You’ve heard about mindfulness, but what is it and why is it important to Middlesex Hospital?
According to Merriam-Webster, mindfulness is “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” With the goal of creating an environment that allows the benefits of mindfulness to positively impact patient care, Middlesex formed the Mindfulness Practice Team in February, and it is co-chaired by Chaplain Dennis McCann and Kelly Nicholson, a registered nurse. The decision to create this team came after the Hospital’s Holistic Care Team participated in a Mayo Clinic mindfulness study and after McCann completed mindfulness training through Mayo Clinic.
Any Middlesex employee can be part of the Mindfulness Practice Team, which currently has 105 members. McCann leads monthly discussions, which focus on three areas: education, practice and integration.
How does practicing mindfulness improve Middlesex?
Practicing mindfulness provides employees with a tool that they can use to manage the demands and stress of everyday work and life. While the initiative is new, literature suggests that mindfulness in the workplace has enormous benefits, especially when it comes to patient and staff satisfaction and patient safety.
In general, there are many health benefits for those who practice mindfulness, and many large organizations provide formal education to staff regarding mindfulness practices as a self-care tool.
How can mindfulness help you?
Mindfulness ultimately means taking control of your brain and living in the present. Research suggests that our minds wander most of the time – typically not to good places. We usually focus on the past or anticipated future.
Engaging in mindfulness practices, allows you to take inventory and control of your own thoughts. When you do so, a more objective, rational processing of otherwise stressful moments can take place.
Practicing mindfulness can help lower anxiety, fear and depression. It can also create mental space to make better decisions and improve control over unhealthy behaviors, and it can help lower blood pressure, increase oxygen intake and create a sense of well being and peace.
How to get started?
There are several strategies for integrating mindfulness into your day, and most are simple exercises, guided meditations or activities that bring focus to your body and breathing. These exercises can be found online or on smartphone apps, such as Insight Timer or Headspace.
It is important to note that a mindfulness activity can be any activity that brings focus and attention to the present moment. This can include activities like yoga or mindful walking.
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