Think you don’t have time to meditate? Oh, but you do. As meditation practice has become increasingly mainstream, it has evolved to fit all schedules and lifestyles. And based on plentiful evidence, the short- and long-term benefits to your mental health are real.
Most of us don’t have time to shell out dozens of hours and thousands of dollars on transcendental meditation classes—the Cadillac of the self-care industry. But the good news is that it’s possible to find a little quietude, even on the move. After all, you shouldn’t have to be as concerned about your own blood pressure as that of the patient you’re checking on.
While there are websites galore and oodles of apps—some of which can guide you through a session as short as a minute, here are some hands-free options to shush the chaos in your head and help you reset, even when on shift or under a study deadline:
Technique 1: 4-7-8 (Also Known as “Just Breathe”)
Keep this technique in your back pocket for when things are extra frantic because it can soothe and center you in as little as 30 seconds. It’s called “4-7-8 Breathing” and it’s super simple: Inhale through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and then exhale through the mouth for a count of eight. Cycle through the steps as many times as needed but even just once can help you find serenity when you need it most.
Technique 2: Walking Meditation
You don’t have to be seated to be mindful. In fact, meditation while walking is an established practice. It’s a little different because instead of focusing on your breath, you tune into the sensation of your legs and feet while walking. Healthcare professionals often spend a lot of time either on their feet or sitting. Both can benefit from a meditative stroll. Walking between wards? Slow down, if you can, and notice the sensations of your feet, trying to relax your legs. Focus on that movement for as long as you have (ideally 10 minutes or more, but any amount of time is better than none). Pay attention to your body and how it interacts with what’s beneath it, whether it’s the parking lot or the hallway.
Technique 3: Don’t Think
Many improv training programs push students to “not think.” Instead? Listen. This might seem like an unlikely parallel to nursing, but the skills are still applicable. Healthcare professionals often have to think on their toes and make quick decisions. Intrusive thoughts can get in the way of your ability to focus and enjoy what you do. Listening without thinking can actually help you learn how to think better. If you find your thoughts swirling, remind yourself: Just listen. Your other thoughts can (and will) come back in a bit. It’s not easy at first. You’re in the business of urgency. We’re basically hard-wired for it. But it’s a great way to reconnect to your surroundings in a sensory way—and give yourself a short break from whatever’s zooming around inside that overactive brain of yours.
Main point? Don’t knock it ’til you try it … and try it again. They call it “practice” for a reason. And you’re already pursuing a career as a practitioner. It takes work to relax, as counterintuitive as that may sound.
These are just three techniques out of many, and there are numerous resources out there to help you learn mindfulness and peacefulness. This list is tailored to those, like nurses and students, who might not have the resources, time, or money, to make meditation top priority. At WCU we encourage all our students to pursue wellness and unwind in healthy ways. We hope this helps.
Which is all to say: Namaste!
If you want to learn more about our programs at West Coast University, you can request more information online. If you’re already a student, we’re so glad you’re with us. And stay tuned for our next Decompression Session, coming soon...