Welcome to McGill Medicine Mindfulness! We are super excited to start sharing with you everything about mindfulness, how it is used in healthcare, and how it can help each and every one of us. Let’s start with a quick dive into the summary of an article written by Matias P. Raski, a medical student at the University of British Columbia.
Mindfulness: What it is and How it is impacting healthcare
“Mindfulness is about paying attention on purpose, non-judgmentally, and being grounded in the present moment. Take waking up for example, maybe you spend some time in bed swiping through your phone, looking through work emails and answering messages from your work colleagues. You’re already planning the rest of the day, thinking about what you’ll discuss in your 9 o’clock meeting at the office or wondering how your zoom call will go with your boss. There’s something to be said for spending that time instead doing some reading, a guided meditation, some stretches, or mindful breathing exercises. And besides the intuitive notion that these things are good for us, there’s an abundance of evidence for potential health benefits of mindfulness too; when integrated into everyday routine, mindfulness practices have been demonstrated to reduce negative feelings of anxiety, reactivity and promote understanding and compassion. Physiological changes have been described as well, including normalizing heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and even immune function.”
“Healthcare providers are burdened with many stressors in their medical practice, leading to anxiety, burnout, and compassion fatigue. These can lead to less patient-centered care, less listening and compassion, and more medical errors. However, there is an increasing amount of evidence suggesting that mindfulness can be a remedy to these ailments affecting healthcare providers. Mindfulness can also lead to better care for patients, both by maintaining the wellbeing of healthcare providers and by the development of self-reflection skills that can translate to better recognition of patient distress and more compassionate care.”
Now, you might be wondering how mindfulness ties back to you and I, as students in the healthcare field. I am sure that, no matter what year of study you’re in, you have already started feeling the stress and anxiety that is prevalent in our field. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge to gain, with many sleepless nights and difficult exams to go through. You might also feel a lot of pressure to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life, as soon as possible (“Hello, first-year medical student who hasn’t set foot in the hospital yet, do you know what you want to specialize in?!”). And once you have set foot in the hospital, you are faced with countless new challenges and learning experiences that can become slightly overwhelming. Throughout all of those years of hard work, you would like to maintain a healthy lifestyle, with enough sleep, enough exercise, enough time spent on hobbies and passions, and enough time spent nurturing your relationships with friends and families. But how can you do that when you constantly have a million things on your mind?
McGill Medicine Mindfulness is here to provide some tools that will help filter out all the thoughts running through your mind every second. Those tools will help you feel grounded in your present moment, whether that be on the ward, or at home spending time with your family or friends. Throughout our blog posts, podcasts and resources, we hope to share with you:
- Evidence surrounding mindfulness, as well as its impact on students and healthcare (Evidence-Based Mindfulness)
- Easy and accessible techniques that can help you practice mindfulness in your day-to-day life
- Tools that will help you as a student, and later on as a practitioner
- And so much more…
We invite you on this journey towards mindfulness, and we hope it will be as beneficial for you, as it has been for us.
See you soon!
Reference: Raski, M. P. (2015). Mindfulness: What It Is and How It Is Impacting Healthcare. University of British Columbia Medical Journal, 7(1), 56–59.
This article was written by Lea Sultanem and Madison Le Gallee, third and second year medical students at McGill University and members of the McGill Med Mindfulness team.