When I talk or listen to peers and colleagues, I am amazed at how many healthcare professionals are already integrating mindfulness, meditation or relaxation techniques into their lives on a regular basis in order to ground themselves and find headspace and calm . Many successful apps, like Headspace (below), have been developed and are gaining in popularity.
Mindfulness though, like resilience. is another new buzzword.
What is it, how does it help and what is the evidence?
According to Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the “founders” of mindfulness,
“mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally”.
Mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) has been used in the NHS as an adjunct treatment for many years and there is a good evidence base for it use in depression and more recently anxiety. It is not a panacea for all problems – it is not appropriate for severe depression, alcohol and drug problems and psychosis. Some studies report it as being as effective as medication with less side effects and cheap as it can be taught in groups. Its provision within the NHS though is patchy.
This evidence also suggests that mindfulness might help you manage stress better at work.
An article in the Guardian, states that mindfulness can specifically help health professionals in:
“resolving conflict with clients and colleagues, improving your boundaries in the workplace, increasing your awareness of your stress levels by understanding emotional and psychological triggers of your own.”
Want to find out more?
Workshops and courses
Dr. Reena Kotecha has set up “Mindfulmedics” which has linked up with the Practitioner Health programme in London providing weekly drop-in mindfulness sessions for doctors.
The British Mindfulness Institute run 8 week on-line courses for individuals and 8 week courses for health professionals.
The UK Network for Mindfulness-Based Teacher Training Organisations has a list of recommended local teachers.
Recommended mindfulness books
There are many books about mindfulness. Two that I have found useful are:
Finding peace in a frantic world by Mark Williams & Danny Penman. This has an 8 week course that you can do using a CD and the book. I have completed it and cannot recommend it highly enough.
Sitting still like a frog by Eline Snel (mindfulness for kids). I have tried this when teaching in schools and on my own children. They really love it, finding it very calming and relaxing .It starts to give children an awareness of their bodies and the changes that can happen depending how they feel. They learn to use the breath as a means of grounding themselves.
Mindfulness apps recommended by peers
In May 2016, the guardian did an article recommending the 5 best meditation apps:
Headspace – this seems the most popular amongst people that I know. I currently use it as it is more achievable as it takes just 10 minutes out of your day. The founder Andy Puddicombe, has done a TED talk “All it takes is 10 mindful minutes“. Dr David Cox, a UK trained doctor, has been part of the management team. His interview with Dr Paddy Barrett of the Dr paradox is really worth listening to.