Let's get two myths about meditation out of the way: yes, you have the time to meditate and no, you don't have to sit still to meditate. Busy nurses can reap meditation's benefits – they just have to commit a few minutes a day!
1. Take 5
Just a few minutes to focus on your breath can help you re-center yourself, says Claire Weigand, assistant director of the academic resource center, in charge of time management and study strategies at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. The proven mind/body connection means that if you can slow your mind, you can reap the physical benefits of a lower heart rate and a calmer outlook. If you can escape to the bathroom or get a cup of coffee during the day, you can use that exceedingly short time to refocus your brain.
2. Meditate in Motion
Meditation is an excellent stress controller and emotion regulator, helping you both reduce your stress and deal with emotional upheavals. And it isn't about clearing your brain of all thoughts - it is about refocusing your thoughts to calm yourself. Luckily, you can meditate in motion, says Weigand – doing the dishes, swimming, walking. Just focus your mind on one aspect of what you are doing, like feeling the warm water over your hands or hearing the steady pattern of your walking. If your mind drifts, purposefully bring your thoughts back to your original focus.
3. Make It Easy
Do you want the shortest way to mediation success? All it takes is three deep breaths. Just take three deep breaths (your belly should expand, not your chest) and focus on one spot in your body where the breath goes, advises Weigand. Feel it through your nose or in your diaphragm or imagine it going down to your toes – it really doesn't matter how you picture it. The point is to focus on that one thing for that short time. Weigand says it takes practice, but she even uses the technique at stoplights to make her drive more pleasant.
4. Plug In to Meditate
Several websites (check out calm.com) have short, guided meditations you can listen to with headphones on. And, yes, there are meditation apps!
5. Start and End Your Workday with Focus
A 5- or 10-minute meditation at the beginning or the end of your work day will do wonders for you. By focusing on something else, your brain can transition either to work or out of work, says Weigand. Find a short meditation you can listen to in your car, on the bus or subway, or however you commute to or from work. Then do it. With a little practice, your focus will improve, you will work more efficiently and will take more pleasure in your activities at home.
Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer based in Bolton, Massachusetts.