Medicine by its nature is a demanding profession. People's lives are in our hands every day.
So how can mindfulness help us as doctors to shoulder that often heavy burden?
𝘔𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘧𝘶𝘭𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘵𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘴 𝘶𝘴 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘴.
So that niggling worry about your patient that is keeping you awake at 3am even though you safely handed over care to a colleague and know that you provided excellent care while you were at work- well that's the sort of ruminating thought that practicing mindfulness can help you to deal with.
Mindfulness 𝗱𝗼𝗲𝘀 𝗻𝗼𝘁 take away disorganised systems or workplaces that need better management or support.
That isn't a reason however, not to use mindfulness training for individuals to help them to better manage the stresses that naturally come from working in such a dynamic and stressful field.
It's 𝗻𝗼𝘁 an 𝘦𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨- just because we teach mindfulness to individuals, doesn't mean that the healthcare system can't also change to better support clinicians as well.
Likewise, self awareness is an often overlooked part of being a healthy, well rounded human.
Our ability to know our capabilities and have a good respect of our own abilities is one part of self awareness. But so is the ability to check in with ourselves and know what we need in order to function optimally.
In order to do this, we need to have a baseline level of function that isn't dominated by stress, worry and rumination.
For many of us, our baseline level of function is very 𝘴𝘺𝘮𝘱𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘥𝘳𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘯. That is, we're running on adrenaline and cortisol every day and even when we do come to rest (on holidays or days off) it can take us a little bit of time to actually slow down.
For many, self awareness is an innate thing that doesn't need too much practice. But there are many others (ourselves included!) who do need to keep an eye on our baseline level of self awareness- it does begin to get a bit out of kilter when we aren't meditating regularly or eating healthily, making sure we exercise and nourish our relationships outside of work.
Our self awareness is often intimately tied to our self care practices- and when one goes a bit off course, often the other one does too.
We can help you to check back in and reflect on we're you're at with your level of self awareness as well as building a plan for what you're going to do when you notice it's drifted a bit off course- while you're with us on one of our retreats.
We're not super human just because we're doctors. We all struggle with this stuff.