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In the Healthcare Battlefield, Nurses Work In the Foxholes. Is there a Way to Survive and Thrive?
Saturday April 01, 2017 22:16 by Rosaleen White - Rivertime Press
Author Shows How Mindfulness Helps
Licensed psychotherapist, author and publisher Carmel Sheridan knows that no matter where nurses live and work, they struggle with similar issues: compassion fatigue, depression, substance abuse, poor boundary setting, neglected self-care, and high stress levels. "I've lived in the U.S. and Ireland, and many of the participants in my stress-management groups are nurses spanning every specialty. Nurses have particularly high levels of stress and burnout." Often dubbed "the invisible patients," nurses endure emotionally grueling and physically draining shifts, often with little support.
Stress in nursing won't reduce until conditions improve. But in the meantime, mindfulness can help nurses prioritise their own self-care and wellbeing.
Nursing is one of the most stressful professions, putting nurses at high risk for stress-related illness. A new book by Donegal woman Carmel Sheridan is hoping to address some of the stress issues affecting nurses.
The Mindful Nurse: Using the Power of Mindfulness and Compassion to Help You Thrive In Your Work is the first book of its kind to outline how mindfulness can help those working in healthcare to protect themselves both physically and mentally.
Ms. Sheridan, a mindfulness teacher and therapist said that she decided to write the book after becoming aware of increasing levels of stress in the healthcare profession. Much of the stress is caused by short-staffing, changing roles, increasing demands as well as inadequate support.
"I have been teaching mindfulness for several years and more and more healthcare workers are enrolling in these courses. Nurses, doctors, social workers and other healthcare staff are having to deal with increasing levels of stress. Mindfulness has alot to offer for managing stress and preventing burnout."
"Often, nurses and other healthcare providers are the “invisible patients.” The focus of care is always on their assigned patients, but
what about the health of the nurses themselves? How is their mental health? Regrettably, their own needs are often ignored or pushed to the back burner."
She says that mindfulness offers nurses a new set of skills to cope with challenges and sustain compasison in the long term. Mindfulness is a way of learning to pay attention to the present moment and cultivate peace of mind. "In teaching nurses to practice mindfulness and compassion, I have witnessed how these practices can dramatically reduce their stress and fatigue. Nurses who integrate these practices into their lives make lasting improvements in how they respond to everyday stress and avoid burnout. These nurses get their energy back. They learn to be fully present with themselves and their patients, often restoring their love of the profession."
The book helps nurses to nurture others without depleting themselves, overcome compassion fatigue and burnout, decrease mistakes through attention management, respond (not react) to crises, and improve patient care while reducing patient risk.
Since the book was published, it has been endorsed by the nursing community internationally and has been adopted as a course text by many schools of nursing in the US and Canada. For further information, visit www.nursingmindfully.com and www.facebook.com/TheMindfulNurse. The Mindful Nurse is available on Amazon in print and Kindle versions, and wherever books are sold.
Carmel Sheridan, MA, MSc, is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice. She is the author of two other books:
Failure-Free Activities for the Alzheimer’s Patient, and Reminiscence: Uncovering a Lifetime of Memories. Carmel teaches mindfulness and compassion-based practices to healthcare professionals, including nurses, to promote resilience, focus, self-care, and well-being.