Practising mindfulness at work can cut nurses’ stress

Canadian nurse researcher tells RCN event that training programme has also improved ‘mental focus’ 

Canadian nurse researcher tells RCN event that workplace mindfulness training has improved ‘mental focus’  and reduced stress

Picture show woman meditating. Regular meditation-based practice can help nurses to copy, a study shows
Regular meditation-based practice can help nurses to cope, a study shows. Picture: iStock

Tailored workplace mindfulness programmes could help nurses cope better with stress, according to a Canadian nurse researcher.

Mindfulness can be defined as a mind-body approach helping people to focus on physical and psychosomatic body responses and thinking patterns, then process these in a way that reduces stressful emotional reactions, according to Sara Belton, assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan College of Nursing.

Mindfulness training to healthcare staff helps mitigate workplace stress and burnout risk

Dr Belton’s research evaluated mindfulness training given to nurses and other healthcare staff to mitigate workplace stress and burnout risk during organisational change.

Participants were offered free online training for 30 days, which included daily guided ten-minute long relaxation exercises such as 'body scans', breath training, reorienting thoughts and other meditation-inspired techniques.

In total, 600 participants took part, with 87 reporting back their feedback through an online survey. Of those 77% expressing interest in continuing a workplace-based practice.

Dr Belton said: 'The main effects reported were decreased stress and anxiety, increased coping skills, better mental focus, better sleep, and increased tolerance with challenging situations and people, at work and at home.’ 

One participant said: 'It helps me refocus and practise calmness in a not-so-calm career.'

Following the perceived success of programme, it is now being introduced across Canada’s Saskatchewan province.

Lack of time a barrier to practising mindfulness

However, Dr Belton acknowledged that a lack of time at work had been reported as a problem, with 68% of respondents saying this was a major barrier to practicing mindfulness.

During a discussion with RCN International Nursing Research Conference delegates, Dr Belton mentioned that some managers had been supportive during the training and had allowed nurses time at the start of shifts to carry out the exercises.

She suggested that handover could be a good time to implement protected time for such activity.

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