Ten Minutes A Day Can Keep Doctor Burnout Away: The Science Behind Meditation

Meditation To Keep Physician Burnout Away

The effects of mindfulness and meditation are more recently becoming an active area of research on the mental and emotional stability of health professionals.

Mindfulness is the simply defined as the practice of being conscious and present as much as possible. Meditation, an extension of mindfulness, can be defined informally as using periods of intense focus to hone the skill of being mindful, whether a mantra that is repeated for variable amounts of time, or a focus directed inward, the goal of the process is to translate one’s thoughts more directly into actions in everyday as a proactive means of coping with adverse and traumatic situations in a stable and centered manner.

Several studies have documented the biological changes that occur in people with a long history of meditation, as seen in this study excerpt from Interaction between Neuroanatomical and Psychological Changes after Mindfulness-Based Training:

For instance, almost ten years ago Lazar and colleagues [11] have originally reported a significant increase of cortical thickness in the right insula and frontal lobes of expert meditators (insight meditation), by the means of surface-based cortical thickness measurement. Afterwards, other studies using voxel based morphometry (VBM) have suggested an increase of grey matter (volume or concentration) in different brain regions, following long-term meditation.

Over the last decade, growth in mindfulness literature has grown exponentially, with studies involving peer-reviewed and prospective evidence, as well as results from randomized controlled trials. There has been a move towards formal programs that place emphasis on mindfulness and open communication, in concurrence with the evolution of mindfulness research, with increasing research showing such practices to be a useful and easily applicable tool in the medical profession.

Determined more likely to show clinically significant improvement in the mindfulness-based stress reduction group were the participants of a recent randomized controlled trial. The meta-analysis similarly showed meditation to lead to decreased depression,pain, and anxiety.

These studies are just a small part of the progressive research showing meditation and mindfulness to benefit patients with cancer,fibromyalgia, strokes, and chronic pain by allowing them to lead lives with reduced stress. Therefore, not surprising at all is the fact that recently implemented mindfulness programs have been shown to be “positive and transformative,” allowing physicians to “listen deeply to patients’ concerns,” and “give themselves permission to attend to their own personal growth.”

Whether during their morning commute or before bedtime, just an ounce of meditation could be worth a pound of cure, or in this case, significantly reduced burnout.

Joseph Bryant
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