As you lie in bed trying to drift off, do you yearn to be able to stop the persistent thoughts of tomorrow’s to-do-list, whether you turned the oven off or cringing at that embarrassing moment from 2003? One of the latest trends in well-being – mindfulness - taps into this desire, encouraging practitioners to focus on the present and not be overcome with distractions.
Although not a new concept, in the last few years mindfulness has gained a cult following. Others are more cynical and a recent RCGP initiative of ‘well-being boxes’ for trainees was met with scepticism.
There is a growing movement for use of mindfulness in various settings including schools, prisons and workplaces. Within health, various NHS providers and medical schools across the globe have incorporated mindfulness into the curricula for staff and medical students1. Intensive courses can last days or weeks but the digital era is also opening mindfulness up to the masses; a search on the app store brings up hundreds of results with specialist apps claiming to help with conditions ranging from migraine and OCD to smoking cessation and pregnancy.
Clinically, NICE recommends mindfulness based CBT as a preventative measure to limit relapse in patients with three of more prior bouts of depression2. It is also cited as an option for patients with chronic pain3, anxiety4 and other long terms conditions.
Disappearing behind a stack of admin, waiting for Mrs Smith to discuss the latest in her growing list of co-morbidities, it is hard to comprehend how anybody working in general practice can afford not to multi-task. Conversely, with only 10 minutes to unravel a plethora of symptoms, being able to focus on the task at hand, is a vital skill.
On a more personal note, as workload and burnout reach critical levels, having an increased awareness of your own mental wellbeing and being able to identify stress quickly is crucial to all of those in primary care. Whether or not mindfulness is a solution for you, it is certainly worth exploring all the options.
We often hear from delegates that one of the benefits of attending an event is the ability to get away from the relentless distractions of the office and reflect on the bigger picture. Wouldn’t it be great to incorporate that attitude into every day?
Pulse LIVE and Management in Practice events this year have all featured introductory workshops on Mindfulness. We have explored benefits for patients, clinicians and practice staff. Interested to find out more? There are more events throughout the UK in 2017?