Self-Care For You & Quality Care For Your Patients
It might be hard to imagine fitting mindfulness into your busy practice. That’s why we recommend brief, informal practices that can be used throughout the day to care for yourself and stay present with your patients.
A big part of your job is taking care of others. There’s no getting around it. But making time to care for yourself is important too. Mindfulness promotes stress resilience and well-being and can protect against burnout.
Mindfulness may also improve the quality of care you provide to children and families by promoting attuned listening, openness to patient perspectives and increased feelings of compassion and connectedness.
Try mindful transitions like the “doorknob practice.”
Take a brief pause just before entering a treatment room. Feel your hand on the doorknob, noticing its texture, temperature, and sensation. Take a deep breath into your belly. Exhale fully, then enter the room, intentionally leaving the previous activity behind and focusing attention on the next one.
Practice “feet on the ground.”
Choose an intentional time to do this practice (i.e. after entering notes, every time you enter a specific area, or after a patient leaves your office). Stand or sit and bring awareness to the sensations of your feet touching the floor. Feel the solid support below you. Take three deep breaths. Extend each inhale all the way down to your feet. With each exhale, imagine releasing your breath out the soles of your feet.
Use active mindfulness each day.
Select one activity you do many times each day (handwashing is a great one). Use that time to practice mindfulness by paying close attention to the sensory experiences. Notice all the small body movements you make, sensations of touch, sight, hearing, and even smell as you complete your activity. Bring all your attention to your senses, allowing any thoughts, if they arise, to simply go.
Choose a daily activity to signal your transition from work to home.
Perhaps it is taking off a lab coat or removing your stethoscope. When you perform this activiy, focus on each small movement you take: the feel, smell, and sounds you experience. When you are done with this activity, take in one deep breath, fully exhale, and continue.
The hardest thing about mindfulness is remembering to practice. Experiment with different practices and use the ones that work best for you. It might make it easier to practice mindfulness regularly if you partner with interested peers. When you practice with others it’s easier to make mindfulness part of your daily routine. You can support each other with reminders, by practicing together, or with other creative ways to integrate mindful self-care into your work place.