There are so many wonderful benefits of meditation for healthcare workers and their patients.
As a meditation teacher, I am often asked by my friends in the healthcare profession how they can use meditation both for themselves and for their patients. And the good news is that meditation is most definitely beneficial in the field. Not only can it help reduce stress, but it increases compassion, enhance job performance, and help patients recover.
The Benefits Of Meditation For Healthcare Professionals & Patients
Salina Shelton [Licensed Professional Counselor and Board Certified Art Therapist at the Chronic Pain Resource Center of South Texas and founder of HopeWise)] says, “Meditation helps us create space between ourselves and the things that worry/stress us. It teaches us how to create that space.
“The physical responses to chronic stress can have long-term results including, increased blood pressure, diabetes, digestive problems, and more. 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 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.”
With meditation, healthcare professional can protect their own mental health
Another issue many in the healthcare field face is becoming too engrossed in their patient’s concerns at the expense of their own wellbeing.
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.”
Of course, healthcare workers are every bit as human as the rest of us, and just as subject to personal problems. It can become an issue when work causes us to think of problems at home. Not only does this cause stress but it can also impact our performance. Thankfully, meditation can help.
“Meditating before and after sessions allows me to clear away my own stuff so that I can be unbiased during sessions,” says Goldberg. “It is like a commute to and from work, and a coffee or lunch break in between.
Another benefit of meditation for healthcare professionals is an increase in compassion.
Naturally, compassion is incredibly important to medical professionals, but sometimes stress and anxiety can lead us to be less compassionate. After all, 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 [Psy.D, EZCareClinic] says “Meditation helps in the development of a caring and compassionate mind, benefitting both a healthcare professional’s patients and colleagues. Studies found that meditation training increases the ability of the brain to recognise the emotions and concerns of others.”
Ways To Meditate For Healthcare Professionals
There are very 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.
Golderberg 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 healthcare workers, but for patients too.
Shelton says that she has been successful introducing patients to meditation, and has some valuable tips for other 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, 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 everyday 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.
Have you used medication in your profession? If so, did it help? Leave a comment and remembers to subscribe.