As 2018 begins, my brain is a buzz with ideas, plans, deadlines, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Our convoluted, intertwined, and sometimes abstract work in the Medicaid Transformation process can bring about anxiety and feelings of uncertainty (and can lead to sleepless nights). One highly effective and evidence-based tool that can help is the practice of mindfulness. Research reveals that by paying attention to what’s going on around us, we can reduce stress, unlock creativity, and boost performance. Mindfulness exercises promote intention through breathing and focus; the practice can turn the mundane into something with purpose.
As innovators in Healthcare Transformation, the benefits of mindfulness are extensive and can assist of in our work—research shows a link between mindfulness and innovation! The practice is also relevant to the clinical workplace, as it can help improve patient engagement and satisfaction. The Institute for Health Improvement (IHI) offers a free course: Incorporating Mindfulness into Clinical Practice. During the 2017 Edge of Amazing conference in Snohomish County, neuroscientist Dr. John Medina discussed the biology behind stress, empathy, the “Theory of Mind and Mindfulness”, and suggested tools on how to implement these findings into the practical world. One his suggested tools is the book Mindfulness: An 8 Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World.
We all experience work and life stress, and mindfulness can be used to help move past fears and root us in the present moment, allowing us to deal with challenges with a clear head and calm mind.
When you catch yourself caught up in worries about the future or guilt and regret about the past, simply and kindly say to yourself, “come back.” Then take a calming breath and focus on what you are doing right now.
Simply notice what you are experiencing right now through three senses – sound, sight, touch. Take a few slow breaths and ask yourself:
- What are three things I can hear? (clock on the wall, car going by, music in the next room, my breath)
- What are three things I can see? (this table, that sign, a person walking by)
- What are three things I can feel? (the chair under me, the floor under my feet, my phone in my pocket)
Think of these answers to yourself slowly, one sense at a time. It’s impossible to do this exercise and not be present and mindful!