Mindfulness meditation serves as stress buster for nurses

High stress levels in nursing can lead to burnout, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and high blood pressure. And hospitals across the country are looking for ways to deal with the problem.

One solution may be mindfulness mediation, a practice that helps nurses better deal with stress and exhaustion by improving life satisfaction and relaxation, all of which improves patient care and satisfaction, Katie Hammond Holtz, a licensed psychologist in Pittsburgh, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Holtz recently led a mindfulness retreat for nurses sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing to provide nurses with the tools they need to reduce their anxiety and stress. Rooted in Buddhism, mindfulness has long been an accepted therapy for anxiety, stress, pain and trauma. Mindfulness is the "purposeful and nonjudgemental attentiveness to one's own experience, thoughts and feelings."

Laura Schubert, a maternity-ward nurse at Magee-Womens Hospital of the UPMC, said lessons she learned at the retreat will help her mental and physical health. "Mindful moments slow you down so you can breathe and check in with yourself and hopefully prevent future burnout," she told the Post-Gazette.

The job stress can take such a toll on nurses that NPR explored how nurses handle stress and burnout in a recent documentary. 

To help nurses and other clinicians reduce stress, the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania offers a "Pet a Pooch" program, FierceHealthcare previously reported. The "puppy time" gives doctors and nurses some much-needed time away from the stess of hospital life.

Other programs, like the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in the District of Columbia, offer nurses the chance to express themselves through art. Activities include journal writing, dance and movement, quilting and painting. 

To learn more:
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