“Anyone whose work involves immense human suffering needs to be aware of their inner life. The nature of the work that physicians do makes [them] more vulnerable to negative emotions or making errors” – Ronald M. Epstein, M.D, Medical News Today.
At a time when burnout is at a high, patients are extremely nervous about anything that has to with health and we’re coming out of a PTSD-invoking pandemic, there is nothing more crucial than the minds of our healthcare workers. For years now, many have taken on the stress and anxiety of the world which transforms itself into depression and burnout. Although somewhat inevitable in times like these, we cannot sit and let these negative emotions take over our entire being. As a Locum Tenens who needs to jump into any and every situation to fill gaps in hospitals, practicing mindfulness can be what separates an awful day from a powerful one.
Mindful practices can be described as a type of meditation. Many think meditation is both something you sit and do in silence for a timed moment and simultaneously something that they can’t do. But meditation runs a little deeper and isn’t only cornered into one process. Mindful practices, or exercises, can range from specific techniques that serve their purpose to your needs, or something that you have found works best for you. Although the concept is similar – finding the time to be silent – the process can be different for everyone.
As a doctor, physician or Locum Tenens, understanding the practices, finding what works best for you and discovering a connection between your body and mind can help in immense ways. Don’t just take our word for it, you can read up on it yourself in books like “Attending Medicine, Mindfulness and Humanity” by Ronald M. Epstein, M.D., or “Meditation as Medicine” by Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa. Both dive deep into the ins and outs of how powerful our mind truly is and how when we can process our inner world more strategically, we can create a life that is much calmer and freeing than ever before.
At the end of the day, it’s up to us to uncover what we can do to elevate our minds and which technique can work best for us. So, what are the mindful practices Locum Tenens can use throughout their career?
Using Your Breath
Our Breath is INCREDIBLY powerful. Although it is a constant and something we don’t pay any attention to. When we do, it has the ability to calm our whole nervous system, connect our mind to our body, slow down our thoughts or emotions and instantly re-center our focus. With all of these things, you’d think we’d be a little more aware of it.
You can use your breath in many ways. It can be long deep breaths when you wake up in the morning. Take a deep breath in both your chest and stomach, holding it and releasing it slowly multiple times. Or, it can be taking some deep breaths and acknowledging your feet on the ground before entering a patient’s room. Even the smallest moments of breathing can bring on tremendous moments of clarity.
Becoming Aware Of Your Thoughts and Feelings
Many of us struggle with our thoughts and feelings, especially men. When we aren’t taught it is okay to possess them, then we most certainly aren’t taught how to manage them. Despite the fact that there is no way around having thoughts and feelings. More significantly when our emotions are negative – frustration, anger, shame, being overwhelmed or regret – we push them down and then react abruptly. Yet, there is a simpler way. Think of your thoughts and feelings as clouds floating by. They are there to be observed, not to take over your whole being. For instance, if something negative happens and you feel angry, you can recognize you are feeling anger and separate that emotion from yourself. Then, you can use those breathing techniques to slow yourself down, talk yourself through said emotion and let the anger go, or better yet, watch the cloud of anger roll by.
Treating Yourself With Compassion
If someone close to you was experiencing negative emotions, you wouldn’t react adversely toward them. You most likely try supporting them by giving them advice or helping them through what their feeling. When it is so easy to show compassion to someone else, why is it so hard to be compassionate towards ourselves? We too struggle with our emotions and feelings; we too need that support and guidance through it and we too can help ourselves in the exact same way we help others. Show yourself compassion in all the moments, speak to yourself kindly and watch your inner world open up into something much brighter and new. It can be an incredible feeling when you know you’ve always got your own back.
In a work environment that forces us to be on the go constantly, there is nothing more substantial than having the ability to slow down. As a healthcare worker, this can be more of a skill that needs to be built rather than something we can simply do. Nevertheless, as we said, you’re busy, so you need to find the moments in which you can take the time to slow down, whether it’s for 5 minutes or 30 seconds. It can all make a difference.
The next time you go for a coffee, instead of sitting in the crowded coffee shop or cafeteria, take it for a walk. Focus on the sips you take, the smell, your environment and what is around you. Become present and in the moment.
While we were quick to talk about how many find the actual practice of long-timed mediation very difficult, it is a practice that can bring on the most vital transformations. Can it be a struggle to sit for 5 or 10 minutes and try and quiet your mind, focus on a certain point or envision what you desire in your future? Absolutely. Will it bring on an immense amount of peace? 100%.
It does take time and practice to get to the point where you can sit patiently and watch your thoughts come and slowly slip away so that you can come into a peaceful mindset. But it is a practice that can elevate all parts of your life, in and out of work. So, without sounding too blunt, just start. When you can achieve a meditative state, you can hear what’s being said to you.
As a Locum Tenens, there are many moments of high and low emotions. These emotional spectrums can be good in some ways, but can also cause us to move too rapidly and in turn, make mistakes. Wherever you are at in your career, it is never the wrong time to start implementing mindful practices into your daily life. Once you can master them, you can watch your entire world become a calmer, smoother and more controlled place. All you have to do is start.