Clean Out the Cobwebs
As we journey through this most challenging time in our nursing careers, it is so very important to remember to take care of ourselves. Whatever your day consists of, here are three things I do to help clear my thinking or “Clean out the Cobwebs.” It is truly amazing how you will have a fresh outlook if you just STOP and try these techniques. I do admit it is hard sometimes to stop when working on something but try it. I have been taking a walk each day, which not only allows me to clear my thinking but has given me a new perspective of my neighborhood seeing for the first time a very busy fox! The following are some tips on how to “Clean out the Cobwebs.” Be mindful of the present. Learn about the power of breathing. Take a walk.
Mindfulness is a daily practice.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, an expert in mindfulness, reminds us that Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally and with kindness (2012). Here are two great videos on mindfulness:
Non-Striving (one of the “9 Attitudes of Mindfulness”) – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Your Thoughts are Bubbles – Jon Kabat-Zinn
The Power of Breathing
Dr. Andrew Weil is the founder of 4-7-8 breathing. Breathing can have a calming effect on the mind and body. It can slow down the autonomic nervous system, which controls our hearts. You can use this new skill anywhere, anytime or whenever you are aware of internal tension. ANYONE CAN DO IT.
Try the 4-7-8 Breath with Dr. Andrew Weil
The only thing you need to learn is that your breathing out should be twice as long as your breathing in.
- Sit or lie comfortably with your back straight.
- Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth and keep it there throughout the entire exercise.
- Exhale completely through your mouth.
- Close your mouth lightly and inhale through your nose quietly to a count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 7.
- Exhale audibly through your mouth for a count of 8.
- Repeat steps 4-6 three more times for a total of four breath cycles.
- Breathe normally and observe how your body feels.
TIP: For one month, try using this practice twice a day and any other time you want to relax your body and mind. As you become comfortable with this technique, you can gradually increase the number of breath cycles to 8.
Our bodies are made to move! Movement leads to improved blood circulation, increased alertness and increased metabolism.
Set yourself up for success: Start with a simple goal, such as taking a 5- or 10- minute walk outside around the hospital, your office or your neighborhood. When this walk becomes routine, set another goal such as a 20-minute walk after work.
Best wishes on your journey,
Sue Weaver and the Healthy Nurse Healthy New Jersey Team
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2012). Mindfulness for beginners: Reclaiming the present moment and your life. Boulder, CO: Sounds Trues.