Mindfulness – Helping to Reduce Anxiety and Stress in Patients, Caregivers and You

He was admitted to the hospital after complaining of chest pains, but his test results were negative for a heart attack. What was it? Panic attacks. Through conversations with her patient and his caregiver, Hospice & Community Care nurse practitioner, Marygrace Lomboy, was able to reduce his and his caregiver’s anxiety and lessen his attacks using mindfulness exercises. According to Marygrace, after the first exercise, the patient fell asleep immediately and his wife said “it was the best thing they could do together.”

So what is mindfulness? According to Jon Kabat-zin, founding Executive Director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.

“As a caregiver you often feel helpless – wanting to relieve your loved one’s symptoms,” comments Marygrace Lomboy, MSN, CRNP, ACHPN, CWCN. “Mindfulness creates a sense of intimacy for the caregiver and patient, as well as strengthens their relationship. It decreases the patient’s resistance to things happening with their body and allows them both to be present in the moment.” Mindfulness also helps to improve well being, reduce stress and reduce health risks, as well as bring more joy into someone’s life.

According to Andrea Lowrey, LSW, social worker and a Home Hospice Team Leader, “As more baby boomers age they are becoming savvier and embracing complementary options to wellness and mental health. At Hospice & Community Care, we are using mindfulness exercises to complement our pain and symptom management.”

“It’s not just patients and caregivers who benefit from mindfulness,” commented Marygrace. “Everyone can benefit. We have now started incorporating mindfulness into our new employee orientations. We teach staff a variety of exercises to allow them to be present in the moment when meeting with patients and families, as well as eliminate compassion fatigue. The more our team can be present in the moment, the more they can be a calming presence for our patients.”

We will continue to implement mindfulness among our clinical staff and organizational operations.

“Mindfulness is one of the many ways Hospice & Community Care is helping to address the needs of everyone involved in patient care – from the patient to caregiver to Hospice team members,” shared Andrea.

If you are a caregiver or are receiving hospice, palliative or supportive care and are interested in practicing mindfulness exercises, please speak with any member of your Hospice team.

Are you feeling stressed and anxious?
Everyone experiences those feelings from time to time. There are things you can do to calm your nervous system, feel more relaxed, sleep better, become less anxious, and feel more joy
in your life. Check out this quick mindfulness exercise to get started – square breathing.

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
  • Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breathing.
  • Inhale for the count of 4.
  • Hold for the count of 4.
  • Exhale for the count of 4.
  • Hold it out for the count of 4.
  • Repeat the cycle for at least 4 cycles