6 Life-Changing Mindfulness Techniques to Support Your Rheumatology Team

Two people meditating on the ground outside during sunrise mindfulness techniques rheumatology practice NORM

It’s no wonder many rheumatologists and office managers are turning to mindfulness techniques in their clinics. Healthcare professionals are suffering from burnout at much higher rates than ever before, a problem that has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, the National Academies of Medicine (NAM) reported in 2019 that burnout had reached critical levels, with up to 54% of nurses and physicians suffering from burnout. And since the pandemic, 50% of public health workers report symptoms of at least one mental health condition, such as anxiety, depression, and higher levels of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Burnout is at an all-time high across the globe and showing little sign of slowing down. So, what can be done to tamp down our overworked and overwhelmed minds?

Well, a review of 23 studies on the effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) found that eight weeks of mindfulness training reduced stress, psychological distress, depression, anxiety, emotional exhaustion and occupational stress. Conversely, MSBR training increased self-compassion, relaxation, sleep quality, and a feeling of personal accomplishment.

So, what does mindfulness training look like? In this post, we’re sharing six mindfulness techniques you can practice daily to reduce stress and increase contentment.

Six Mindfulness Techniques to Support Your Team

If you find the team members for your rheumatology practice are spread thin and stressed out, here are some mindfulness techniques that will help everyone reduce their stress levels.

The Pause and Breathe Technique

The simplicity of this MBSR method makes it easy to implement throughout the day. All you must do is:

  1. Pause: Stop what you’re doing and just be.
  2. Breathe: Really! Just breathe in and out normally.
  3. Notice: Your feet on the ground or your hands on your lap.

This mindfulness technique helps to pull you back into the present moment and escape your racing thoughts. The result is greater calm and focus. The best part is that you can practice this wherever you are as many times as you want throughout the day.

Mindful Meditation

This technique drives you to focus on the natural breath, creating awareness around how your breath feels in the body and how your body is feeling.

The key to a successful mindful meditation session, whether it’s one minute or an hour long, is to be kind to yourself when your mind wanders. When you notice the mind has wandered, gently redirect it back to the breath.

Typically, this exercise is done in a seated position, but can be done lying down or moving around. Remember: stay present with the breath and come back to the sensation of your breath when becoming distracted.

Awareness of Thoughts and Feelings

This method is very direct and easy to do anywhere! Pay attention to the thoughts that arise and then watch them drift away, which is also known as noting.

Noting involves naming or labeling individual thoughts as they come up. For example, noting “stress” could help pull you out of your preoccupation with stress. You can apply this to anything that preoccupies your mind – worry, feelings, anxiety and more.

Grounding: Find Your Feet

Grounding is a fancy word for a method that is very simple. Whether seated or standing, bring awareness to your feet—their position on the floor, how your weight is balanced through them, and any sensations you notice.

This exercise helps connect your body with the present moment and bring your mind back to the here and now. It’s also particularly helpful when stress takes hold.

Give Everyday Tasks a Twist

Novel experiences help to ground us in the present moment. Think about the last time you traveled somewhere new or ate out at a new restaurant. You are likely to be more present because you’re outside of your routine.

You can do this with everyday tasks, too! Consider using your non-dominant hand when brushing your teeth, eating a meal or washing dishes. This allows you to pay attention to the activity rather than zoning out.

Do a Body Scan

Another excellent way to build awareness and become more present is to do a body scan. To do this, find a quiet place to lay down. Starting at the top of the head and scanning down, notice how the different parts of your body feel. It doesn’t matter whether the sensations are good or bad, you’re simply witnessing without judgement.

While this is an excellent way to reduce stress, it may be tough to find space or time to lay down while in the office. Instead, try this tactic before going to bed. A quick body scan helps to relax and prepare the body for a good night’s sleep.

Support Your Rheumatology Team with Mindfulness Techniques

If your practice has been extra busy, your team may be feeling burnt out with stress. By incorporating mindfulness techniques, they can quickly reduce their stress levels and become far more present while on the clock. From mediation to grounding and body scans to noting, mindfulness also improves sleep, boosts confidence, lowers blood pressure and can extend cognitive functioning.

Today’s the day. Share these mindfulness techniques with your team to create a healthier and more present clinic. Your patients will thank you.

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  • As a speaker at the first ad hoc meeting of rheumatology practice managers gathered in a single small room at its infancy a decade ago, I’m amazed to see how NORM has blossomed into a high energy organization of depth and professional meetings with parallel break-out symposia between plenary sessions. NORM has truly come of age. This is where the “business” of rheumatology gets learned. The ”guildmanship” for rheumatology practice management is now strong.- Paul H. Caldron, DO, FACP, FACR, MBA, Arizona Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates
  • In a time of demanding changes in the management of medical practices in the US, NORM has been a lifesaver to the community of Rheumatology practices.  NORM has allowed our practice to stay ahead of the many demands of CMS and others payors and has ensured that our practice remains cognizant of new issues that arise in HIPPA compliance, human resources and medical billing to name a few. Sending our Practice Manager to NORM's conferences has been cost-effective and beneficial to our practice because she returns to our office with an abundance of information that otherwise would have taken months to compile. Every Rheumatology practice that wishes to stay on top of emerging issues in practice management should consider sending a member of their staff to NORM's conference.- Michael S. Rosen M.D., Chester County Rheumatology PC
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