Article: Nurses Cut Stress Levels by 40% with Mindfulness Exercises

Here's a great article about a study conducted at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, in which stress levels in a group of 32 nurses from a surgical intensive care unit (high-stress area of a hospital) were cut by 40% with simple mindfulness exercises. For 8 weeks, the nurses participated in once a week group classes led by a trained instructor. Group activities included gentle stretching, yoga, meditation, and music-based exercises.

To measure the effectiveness of the mindfulness exercises, researchers tested levels of a chemical in their saliva called alpha amylase. Alpha amylase is released when the fight or flight response is triggered in stressful situations... like working in a high-stress hospital unit. Over the 8-week program, nurses reported on standard questionnaires that their work environment did not change; however, the levels of alpha amylase dropped by 40%, indicating that their response to the stress did change. How great is that!

Hopefully mindfulness-based programs can become incorporated into more and more workplaces. In my time working as a nurse, I know how stressful that environment can be. Patients are sick and uncomfortable or worse and you feel compelled to help them, but you are battling red tape, time constraints, and more, and it can be very stressful for everyone, staff and patients alike. And there are plenty of other high stress work environments. You can't always or may even not want to escape your job, but if you could change your stress response to your job, well that's a step in the right direction.