I read recently on a friends page that “Doctors are the brain of the Hospital. Nurses are the Heart…” And boy are we beating with every purkinjie fiber in our being! 12 hr shifts, critical patients, countless meds, endless charting. And we are on our feet the entire time. “Superhero” is a frequent term, used to describe nurses. I agree. But even superhero needs a break. It’s mentally and physically taxing to our precious bodies.
My floor recently opened up a “relaxation room” This is a quiet room where staff can go (separate from the break room) and take a minute to breathe. I think this is a wonderful gift!
I personally use this room to do a little yoga in the middle or the end of my shift. There are two poses that totally recharge me amidst the insanity that it the modern day hospital. These 2 moves are great for all medical staff that are testing their mental and physical limits for 12 hrs. (Nurses, Nurse Aids, Rounding Doctors, Surgeons, ect.)
- The Backbend.
This is one of the best yoga poses. It increases blood flow to the diaphragm and around the spine. While you are on your feet, rushing to give the next SCIP IV antibiotic on time before you “fall out” – all the blood flow is directed to your arms and legs. While you are pumping & circulating stress hormones, as you attempt for the 3rd time to get venous access on an edematous patient – your blood pressure and heart rate increase. This can be damaging over time to your body – and you only get one body! So park that COW/WOW, escape to a quiet place and practice a backbend. As much as you can get into the pose – praise yourself for trying. This is what happens to your body when you practice a backbend….
- Your are reversing the poison stress hormones, the high blood pressure, & the high heart rate, by redirecting blood flow back to your core.
- You are improving your posture. You are counteracting the inevitable round shoulder slouch that we all get from being in front of the computer screen. A backbend stretches the chest while drawing your shoulder blades back together – this is the complete opposite of the slumpy “charting posture” we end up in.
- You stimulate your nervous system while making yourself more alert and more energized. (So instead of that midday coffee to perk you up – try a backbend stretch!)
2. The Meditation Pose (or Lotus Pose)
I like to close my eyes in this position. Will all the pressure off your hands and feet, it becomes very relaxing, and I like to take a moment of gratefulness and purposely but aside my mental “to do” list. I just listen to myself breathe and calm down. Sometimes I put my hand on my heart and feel it beat. It takes me away from the crazy call bells, phone calls, & overall demands. I come away from the pose more aware, more attentive, less frazzled. I believe it makes me a better nurse. Other more predictable benefits for you will be….
- Opening up the hips that become tight from repeated standing & walking.
- Stretches the ankles and knees.
- Brings the blood flow back to the abdomen, pelvis & spine.
PSA to all the hard working people in the medical field….
Please, take care of yourself first so you are better equipped to take care of others.
But if you burn yourself out, there is nothing left to give.
Be kind to the only body your are gifted.