As an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, I am fortunate enough to have a diverse and physically active day, as I take people through various exercises and forms of physical activity. I first came across mindfulness as part of my personal yoga involvement, and it soon became a necessary element of my work-life balance.
When you work with people all day in the healthcare industry, it is easy to slip into mindlessness. Appointments can turn into the next one, and somewhere in the back of our mind, the to-do list is lurking, only to then get in the car at the end of the day, forget how we got home, try to be present with our loved ones, and then get to work the next morning to do it all again. I notice that when I’m not consistent with a mindfulness habit (whether it be regular yoga, daily journaling, or meditating using an app), I become forgetful and experience a wandering mind during sessions and meetings, with a pressing sense that there’s something I should be doing.
Did you know that mindfulness increases your attentiveness and active listening too? Patients who receive care from practitioners who engage in mindfulness feel more ‘heard’ and report a higher quality of service, even if all other parameters remain the same. Mindfulness allows us to be truly ‘there’ with patients, enhancing the ability to show compassion and empathy but also preserving our own wellbeing as health care professionals.
I also encourage my patients, when indicated, to try out one of the many mindfulness apps (Headspace, Smiling Mind and Calm are great places to start). People who suffer from chronic pain, or are just generally stressed out, are ideal candidates for mindfulness.
If you are a health professional who isn’t currently utilising any mindfulness practices, or you aren’t sure where to begin, my best recommendation is to download one of the apps listed above and see how it can translate throughout your day. I find that I am more present and engaged with patients, colleagues and loved ones. A simple way that I incorporate mindfulness into my work schedule is to take three deep, full breaths in between consultations or meetings. There are many things out of our control in our day to day workplaces, but your mind doesn’t have to be one of them!
Jennifer Smallridge is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist who works in private practice, occupational rehabilitation and hospital settings. She is also an Academic Lecturer in the field of Exercise and Sport Science. Since graduating from the Masters of Clinical Exercise Physiology at Deakin University in 2014, she has taken extra professional development in Pilates, Mindfulness and Therapeutic Yoga, which guides a lot of her clinical work. www.jennifersmallridge.com