Sophie talks about the power of mindfulness, and remembering how important it is to take care of yourself, as well as others.
- Sophie Johnston
The dreaded second year, the notorious year of the mental breakdown. Better make that plural for me - I've already had countless! One of my lecturers perfectly described second year as "being stuck on a Wednesday", which in my book means it's not party time yet!
Second year is like being caught in limbo – we’ve come so far, yet still have a long way to go. But no matter how long it may seem to take, the weekend always comes around eventually.
Which brings me to thinking… Is it all in the mind? Is second year only tough because we’re told it is, and it becomes this self-fulfilling prophecy?! Does second year have to be as bad as previous students make out? With that in mind I've spent the last few days pondering (and procrastinating) on this idea.
On placement I’m often told I’m a very calming person. I always make sure I’m engaged and smiley, because at the end of the day, who wants a sad or grumpy nurse looking after them? But it’s made me realise, I do tend to push myself to one side, pretending to be OK, when sometimes I'm not.
After this dawned on me, I began to think about how I treat patients (procrastination continues). Cummings (2012) devised the 6C's of care, outlining the values nurses should display. I started to question - why am I limiting this to my patients? Care, Compassion, Commitment, Communication, Courage and Competence can all be applied, not only to my nursing life, but my personal life too. How can I fully care for a patient if I’m not taking care of myself? I’ve started, therefore, caring for my mental health.
My tutor gave a lecture on mindfulness, allowing us ten minutes of meditation. I won’t lie; I was so against the idea. I’m stubborn, and was convinced that it wouldn’t be of any use. Reluctantly, I joined in.
Not only did I love it, but I learnt an important lesson; give everything an open mind. As I write now, I'm a member of the meditation app Headspace, and I'm currently on day 46 reaping the benefits. Mindfulness also has a place in nursing. It’s made me calmer and able to handle stress in a productive way. Being aware of the present moment, focusing in on what you are doing and how you are feeling only benefits practice.
Nowadays I find it easy to remember, it’s never Wednesday forever. Maybe some Wednesdays feel longer than others, but the weekend’s never far away. For anyone struggling through second year, recognise the steps you could take to make that week a little easier on yourself. It’s OK not to be OK - but you can do something about it, and that self-care can influence the care which you deliver.