Updated: Apr 9, 2019
Do you dread going into work? Do you find it difficult to say anything positive about your job, your place of work, or your colleagues? Are you too exhausted to do anything else, like spend time with friends, family, or on other pursuits you used to enjoy? Are you finding yourself more likely to snap at or criticize someone - a friend, a co-worker, or a patient - than to listen or to react with compassion?
If any of these sound like you, keep reading. You need the benefits of mindfulness, and should consider taking a mental health day.
The first thing to know is that it’s not your fault. All of these are symptoms of burnout - extreme emotional and mental exhaustion that takes a real toll on your body and your ability to help others. Nursing - and providing healthcare in general - is a high-stress, high-pressure, and often high-anxiety field, and we are all constantly trying to figure out how to do more with less.
It’s not surprising, that between the inherent stresses of the job and the pressures of modern medicine, nurses suffer from depression at twice the normal rate (almost 20% of nurses, as compared to about 9% of general population).
There’s pressure, and there’s burnout.
Nurses and other healthcare providers have to work well under pressure, and manage difficult situations with aplomb. But there’s a difference between pressure and a feeling of being constantly overwhelmed, anxious, or exhausted. These are signs of chronic burnout, and while we may not be able to single-handedly change the medical profession (although we are striving to do our part at Skilled Wound Care to change the culture!), we can control our own reactions.
Mindfulness is the best remedy.
Work-related stress and job burnout are among the leading causes of poor physical and mental health. But there is help out there - and not just in quitting your job and moving to Costa Rica to set up a surf shop (although that does sound wonderful).
Studies have shown that mindfulness - actual mental practices to help you separate and regulate emotion, decrease stress, and balance yourself in challenging situations. Mindfulness isn’t just taking a yoga class or doing some deep breathing, it’s a discipline, like any other. And the results of practicing mindfulness in a sustained way are clear - at the end of one sixteen week study, participants reported lower stress, better physical and emotional health, higher-quality sleep, and more self-compassion. They also showed significant declines in blood cortisol levels and in blood pressure, indicating a physiological reality to the benefits of mindfulness.
So taking a mental health day can have huge benefits, not just in the opportunity to insert space between you and work-related stress, but as an opportunity to think about - and implement - some new habits and practices to promote mindfulness.
Can’t afford a mental health day? Take five minutes.
Maybe you can’t afford to take a day off, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from some mindfulness practice! Download one of the many free mindfulness/meditation apps available, like Calm or Headspace, and start practicing. Even five minutes a day can have big results!
Skilled Wound Care is a mobile surgical practice committed to transforming the chronic wound care model in nursing facilities. Wound care experts make weekly bedside visits to patients in long-term care facilities, avoiding transfers to hospitals or clinics. Our expert physicians give patients the most up-to-date and effective wound treatments, and educate facility staff on how to help patients continue to heal quickly and effectively between visits. This model of collaborative care allows SWC’s physicians to improve patients’ lives and health outcomes, to empower nursing staff, and to raise public awareness. Skilled Wound Care, along with its nurse and nursing home partners, is working every day to positively transform traditional nursing home wound care.