Ronald M. Epstein, M.D., Professor of medicine at the University of Rochester in New York, and a family and palliative care Physician, believes mindfulness is a powerful tool for medical professionals in dealing with personal stress, being more compassionate, and reducing clinical errors.
“Anyone whose work involves immense human suffering needs to be aware of their inner life. The nature of the work that Physicians do makes them more vulnerable to negative emotions or making errors,” he said.
Try these mindfulness techniques to help you focus and destress.
Pause and breathe
Either sitting or standing, take a deep breath. Focus on your breathing and on exhaling and inhaling but especially the pause in between. Pay attention to all aspects of the breathing; make note of the feeling of air entering and leaving your nose/mouth and the rise and fall of your belly as your breathe.
Expect your mind to wander and get distracted. This is what minds do. Every time you notice your mind wandering, simply bring it back to your breath, without judgment. Letting go of judgment and self-criticism is an important part of this practice.
Be aware of feelings
Some practices involve asking “How do I feel?” and naming the emotion. Take inventory of all the emotions you’re feeling at that moment. No matter what you are feeling accept it openly. Remember you are not your thoughts (feeling a moment of anger does not make you an angry person). And then let it go and let your mind clear.
Take a moment to listen to the sounds around you and observe the views around you. Pay attention to that small details like the sound the air conditioner is making or how the cool air feels in the room. Bringing your attention to that moment draws you into the present.
Find your footing
This is as simple as it sounds: when seated or standing, become aware of where your feet are, their position on the floor, the balance of weight between the two feet, and any sensations in them. Many public speakers use this technique.
Many medical students and Doctors often have difficulty consistently practicing these techniques. But they can practice on the go.
Some examples of on the go practicing include, taking breaks more regularly, going for a short walk rather than joining busy break rooms, paying attention to drinking your cup of coffee rather than gulping it down, and taking a breathing space in between seeing patients.