As a corporate meditation teacher, I am often asked by my friends in the healthcare field how meditation can help both doctors and patients.
The good news is that meditation is most definitely beneficial in the field. If you’re a doctor wondering how you can manage your own stress while maintaining your medical career, then meditation can certainly help.
Not only can it help reduce stress everywhere from your private practice to the hospital E.R., but it also increases compassion, enhances job performance, and helps patients recover. I’ve seen this many times in my corporate meditation classes.
Let me show you what you need to know.
Guided Meditation for Healthcare Workers
Benefits of Meditation for Healthcare Workers
Naturally, there is substantial stress for healthcare workers. Whether you’re a nurse or a brain surgeon, stress is inevitable. Meditation, however, can help to release stress for both the medical professional and their patients .
Salina Shelton says, “Meditation helps us create space between ourselves and the things that worry or stress us.”
It’s imperative that doctors look after their own mental health while tending to patients. Otherwise, stress can occur, potentially over the long term.
“The physical responses to chronic stress can have long-term results including, increased blood pressure, diabetes, digestive problems, and more,” says Shelton.
‘By incorporating meditation into our self-care/healthcare plan, we are actively working to reverse the impact of stress on our bodies.”
Dr Ricardo Castrellon [an experienced double board-certified plastic surgeon serving the South Florida area] agrees, “Healthcare is a demanding industry, no matter what sector you work in. For healthcare workers in hospitals, the stress level is obvious—emergency situations may arise at any moment, and you must think on your feet.
“In other areas, the stress can be more subtle.
“For example, in private practice doctors see dozens of patients each day and strive to give them our very best. As a plastic surgeon, the importance of a level head and a literal steady hand cannot be understated.
“Meditation is a great tool to calm the brain and reduce the inherent stress that comes with work in the healthcare field.”
Protect your own mental health
Another issue many in the healthcare field are facing is that they become too engrossed in their patient’s concerns at the expense of their own well-being.
Elisabeth Mandel Goldberg, [LMFT, PLLC] says, “As a therapist, I am often triggered by what my clients tell me, especially if it reminds me of my family or partner.” This is understandable. After all, healthcare workers are human like the rest of us, and just as subject to personal problems. But this can become an issue when it prevents us from focusing on our work. Thankfully, meditation can help.
“Meditating before and after sessions allow me to clear away my own stuff so that I can be unbiased during sessions,” says Goldberg.
It also helps with compassion
Naturally, compassion is incredibly important to medical professionals. Sadly, sometimes stress and anxiety can lead us to be less compassionate.
Studies show that when an individual is stressed their levels of compassion decline. To maintain compassion, it’s imperative to keep stress under control
Shanon Henry says, “Meditation helps in the development of a caring and compassionate mind, benefitting both the healthcare worker and their colleagues. Studies found that meditation training increases the ability of the brain to recognise the emotions and concerns of others.”
Guided Meditation 2
There are many different ways healthcare workers can meditate. You can learn all about the traditional meditation techniques in this guide.
There are, however, some specific methods of meditation healthcare workers might like to try.
Goldberg says, “When I meditate, I do it in various settings: in my office, outside, in bed or while I am doing a task such as folding laundry.
“You don’t have to sit still to meditate. It is about a deliberate call to action for preparing your mind and body for optimal performance.
“I close my eyes, take a few deep breaths, listen to calming music, make sure I am physically comfortable if that means wrapping myself in a blanket, or smelling a lavender candle.
“Meditation works best when you engage all of your senses including your imagination. I imagine myself having a good day where I help people and do not allow their stress to interfere with the quality of my work. That is how I do my service best.”
How To Introduce Meditation To Patients
Not only are there benefits of meditation for nurses and doctors, but for patients too.
Shelton says that she has been successful in introducing patients to meditation and has some valuable tips on meditation for healthcare professionals.
“As a healthcare provider, I introduce meditation in small ways to my clients,” says Shelton.
“We discuss the mental and physical benefits of slowing our breath before and after a few practice breaths. From there I ask them to try incorporating one minute throughout the day to slow their breath.
“I teach a 4-6 breath method: inhale 4 seconds, exhale 6 seconds with a natural pause in between. Our brain releases the calming, relaxing chemicals on our exhale. For this reason, we extend the exhale.
“On follow-up visits, I ask how the practice went and we explore ways to expand the practice. It may be in a full 5-minute meditation in the morning or it may be a brief practice before a daily event like meals.”
Goldberg has likewise used meditation to aid her clients.
“I encourage clients to meditate during sessions,” says Goldberg. “If they are getting very upset, angry, crying, reactive, I ask them if they would like to feel more in control of their feelings, and offer a short meditation break.
“I teach them skills to use outside of therapy sessions whenever they feel overwhelmed. I practice it with them, so they know how to do it, and follow-up with them in each session about if and how they used meditation before our previous session.”
Journals can help too
Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, MD says, “At my practice, [journaling] is the best way I’ve found to get my patients committed to trying meditation.
“Similar to calorie or sugar diaries for diabetics, I give my patients a simple pen and notepad where they can jot down their progress.
“The goal is to achieve consistent daily meditation as a form of reducing stress and improving overall health. So, the goal is to gradually increase the minutes spent meditating per day, without surpassing 25 minutes, which is plenty.”
Djordevic says he quickly sees the benefits of meditation in his patients. “Just 5 minutes of meditating every day can already help a lot, so with a journal it can be more encouraging, as all the progress is recorded.
“I like to recommend starting with 5 minutes of meditation every day and increasing it by a minute every week, as far as they can push it. Personally, I find meditation a great way of dealing with mild anxiety and some patients are no longer dependent on traditional anti-anxiety medications thanks to meditation sessions.”
There are significant reasons for healthcare workers to meditate. Not only does it reduce stress, but it enhances compassion and helps us to perform our jobs more effectively.
Are you a healthcare worker? Would you like to learn to meditate properly? Take a look at our corporate meditation programs.
1: Salina Shelton, Licensed Professional Counselor and Board Certified Art Therapist at the Chronic Pain Resource Center of South Texas and founder of HopeWise
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations.