Recent research evaluating the factors that contribute to professional quality of life of palliative care workers (PCW) found that engaging in mindful self-care activities had a direct and positive effect.
A total of 141 multidisciplinary palliative and hospice care clinicians from a county-wide agency completed The Mindful Self-Care Scale–33, The Integration of Stressful Life Experiences Scale, and The Professional Quality of Life Scale. Participation in mindful self care activities predicted higher levels of professional quality of life and meaning made. Similarly, higher meaning made resulted in higher professional quality of life.
Based on this study published in the International Journal of Stress Management, if you’re in palliative care, taking the time for mindful self-care activities such as journaling, moving your body or breathing exercises, and meaning-making interventions can help increase your professional quality of life .
Making mindfulness a part of your life
Taking the time to learn how to be mindful can vast benefits. Specifically, improvements in emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, empathy, emotional stability, and self-reported mood. There are a variety of ways that you can participate in mindful exercises. You can take workshops that can take some time, or there are books, videos, websites, podcasts and apps that can help you. In the meantime, here are a few mindfulness exercises to try from Nicholas Kerr, DO, of the Palliative Care Network of Wisconsin.
Body Scan: Find a quiet place to sit comfortably so you can direct all your attention to the task. Focus on each part of your body starting at your toes and working your attention up to the top of your head, paying attention to how each body part feels.
Loving-Kindness Meditation: Find a quiet place to sit comfortably so you can direct all your attention to the task. Direct warm, loving feelings toward loved ones. You might want to imagine a bright, warm light engulfing them. Next, direct those feelings towards yourself and larger circles of others.
Walking Meditation: Find a quiet, safe area that you can roam with a relaxed, leisurely gait. Focus on the experience and feelings associated with the movement. Pay attention to the environment around you: the sights, sounds, smells and textures.
Not all practices of mindfulness need to be done at a separate time. Simple everyday activities can be opportunities. Here are a few suggestions from Kerr:
- Concentrating on the present moment by setting aside electronic devices and avoiding the distractions of multitasking.
- In the thick of a difficult situation, take four to five long deep breaths focusing on the relaxing effects of purposeful deep breathing.
- Take the few moments during hand washing to focus attention on the sensations of the water’s temperature and scent of the soap.