Manage Hospital Stress with Meditation

Manage Hospital Stress With Meditation

By Sandra C. Brook, R.N.

‘Please give me strength to be compassionate and not injure anyone today,’ I repeated to myself while pulling up the support hosiery I wore to tame the varicose vein pain I’d endure over the next 12-hour hospital shift. My job was so demanding and the needs of patients in the Emergency Department so great, I often ignored my own discomfort. At the same time, I feared making a mistake that might do harm to a patient. There were so many people to care for, so many treatments to perform, so many medications to give—and all with the grace of a nurse.

I planned to stay in the healthcare field for decades to come. How could I find strength throughout the day and preserve my passion for the job over time?

When Hospital Work Takes A Toll

The pace of jobs in healthcare is fast and furious, and the degree of human suffering encountered by workers and volunteers unparalleled in any other industry. For nurses, there are treatments, procedures, surgeries and medications to monitor, and an ICU patient bedside can trigger approximately 350 alarms per shift to which one must discern and respond to.4 Most patients and their visitors are kind and appreciative to hospital staff and volunteers, while others can appear insistent and critical to those caring for them during this stressful time. Either way, one must be professional and compassionate to ensure that patients have the best possible outcomes. In hospitals, suffering occurs with patients, their loved ones and all of those caring for them, and bearing witness to it all, every work day, can take its toll.

Over time, some healthcare providers become tired and jaded. Compassion fatigue sets in. They can develop depression and anxiety as their jobs and personal lives demand greater attention. Feelings of being overwhelmed by digital demands and constant stimulus in the hospital become more apparent. Such emotionally and physically challenging jobs have high professional fatigue and burnout rates. In September 2007, Dr. Christine T. Kovner and colleagues found that 13% of newly licensed RNs had changed principal jobs after one year, and 37% reported that they felt ready to change jobs.1

The Meditation Solution

Many hospital workers and volunteers are turning to relaxation and meditation because it has been scientifically proven to improve overall physical and mental wellbeing and decrease stress symptoms.4

It turns out that routine mental exercise is as important as routine physical exercise. Training your brain is like training your muscles—it takes time and persistence. Neuroscientists use the following analogy to describe how the brain changes: with physical exercise, muscles become larger and denser with muscle mass. In a similar way, when the brain is exercised with meditation, it becomes larger and denser with neural mass or gray matter. The phenomenon is known as neuroplasticity and describes how the brain actually changes throughout life.2 

Scientists are also finding that the mind can change as a result of the thoughts we think, and perhaps, lead to a greater capacity for empathy, compassion and even happiness. So, for healthcare providers working with people who are suffering, meditation can help them to be more compassionate.

 When your mood is lifted, your body responds1. Dr. Herbert Benson of the Harvard Medical School found in his research that depression, loneliness and psychological conditions prevalent in westerners can be alleviated with meditation. And a study conducted at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and published by the American Heart Association showed that African Americans with heart disease who practiced transcendental meditation regularly were 48% less likely to have a heart attackstroke or die compared with those who attended a health education class over more than five years. Those practicing meditation also lowered their blood pressure and reported less stress and anger. And the more regularly patients meditated, the greater their survival, said researchers who conducted the study.

How Is It Done?

There are many ways to meditate, including meditation with movement such as Tai Chi, mindfulness, transcendental meditation and more, but the key is to find what is most comfortable and effective for you. Focusing awareness and performing controlled gentle breathing are common elements to each of the various meditation techniques.

Gentle diaphragmatic breathing alone is key to inducing the relaxation response by stimulating the vagus nerve and slowing heart rate and blood pressure. With effective diaphragmatic breathing, the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated as well, further decreasing work stress.3 To induce the relaxation response, try this technique:                             

Step 1:   Place the palm of one hand on the chest and the other hand over the naval.

Step 2:   Inhale deeply down to the lower lungs so that the hand on the naval moves first.

Step 3:   Slowly and effortlessly exhale.

Step 4:   Calm your mind & focus on the breath. Continue exercise for 2-5 minutes at a  time.    

Know that your mind will wander, because that is what the human mind does. Part of the mental training is the experience of letting thoughts pass by and returning your attention to your breathing. Silently repeating a mantra can also help to calm your mind. Try an inspirational phrase, such as ‘I am love’ or ‘I have compassion for myself and those around me.’

To incorporate this meditation practice into a hospital job, create a habit of doing the breathing exercise each time you perform a repetitive task such as hand washing or documenting in patient charts. This can be a reminder to slow down and be mindful throughout your workday. Many hospitals have meditation rooms or chapels, spaces intended for personal prayer, meditation, or reflection that are often underutilized. Caregivers, healthcare personnel and volunteers could benefit from going there during work breaks to meditate and calm the mind.

Still not sure if meditation is right for you? Talk with someone who has already started meditating routinely; you may be surprised at how much it has changed their physical and mental wellbeing.

About the Author

Sandra Brook, R.N. is a meditation specialist who teaches the benefits of meditation and also how to establish your own relaxation and meditation practice.  She also does speaking engagements for companies and conferences.  For more information on her practice, you may contact her at:

 1. Buddha's Brain: Neuroplasticity and Meditation. R. J. Davidson and A. Lutz in IEEE Signal Processing Magazine, Vol. 25, No. 1, pages 174–176; January 1, 2008.

2. Schocker, L. LOOK: What Meditation Can Do For Your Mind, Body And Spirit. Retrieved April 28, 2015, from

3. Dr. Herbert Benson's Relaxation Response. Retrieved April 28, 2015, from

4. Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation. Clinical Alarms: 2011 Summit. Retrieved April 28, 2015, from publication.pdf


Hospital Gift Shops and E-commerce

Why Hospital Gift Shops Need E-commerce

Having an online presence is becoming increasingly important for all trades and for retailers in particular. Retailer’s online marketing strategy should include online shops that operate alongside existing store-based outlets. Offering customers an online option leads to the idea of "endless aisles" within the retail space, as they can offer products online without the need to merchandise the inventory within the shop’s physical location. This is especially important for Hospital Gift Shops who have extremely limited space and must carefully consider their inventory options.

An online gift shop not only benefits the hospital gift shop but also patients and their loved ones as well. A loved one who lives in New York can easily send a gift to a patient in a hospital in California from the privacy of their home. An online gift shop allows for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week service for customers and enables them to shop online at any hour of the day or night, outside of shop hours, providing an obvious huge advantage for hospital gift shops.

Online shopping has become a multibillion-dollar revenue stream and online shopping retail sales are predicted to grow steadily to $370 billion in 2017, up from $231 billion in 2012. It is clear to see that a hospital gift shop who does not have an e-shop is missing out on a lot of potential revenue.

E-commerce Benefits for Hospital Gift Shops

The benefits of e-commerce include its round-the-clock availability, speed of access, and wide selection of goods and services for the consumer. The process is quick, easy, and convenient. The majority of e-commerce websites are retail stores selling products directly to the public, allowing them to reach a greater number of consumers who are not in close proximity. Physical stores are limited by the geographical area they can service, an e-commerce website provides an international and even global reach.

E-commerce enables the consumer to complete transactions from the comfort of their own home, transactions take only minutes rather than hours. It is convenient, saves time, saves gas, and offers a greater product selection. E-commerce is no longer a luxury for hospital gift shops, it is a necessity to maximize growth.

The Proliferation of Mobile Search

I would say that mobile is the future of marketing, but the era of mobile has already arrived, more users are spending larger amounts of time engaged with mobile devices than ever before. We can expect this growth trend to continue in the future.

According to recent reports, 40% of users’ internet time is spent on mobile devices. Walk around any public area and you’ll find more than just a few folks with faces glued to their smartphone screens.

Google refers to mobile search as “The new font door to your store”. There are now more Google searches on mobile than desktop, and more than half of all web traffic now comes from mobile and tablet devices. This has all happened primarily in the past two years, and this trend will only continue. We are a mobile society, with unparalleled processing power in our pockets. And with the improvements around voice search, it will be easier than ever to search for things while on the go.

Mobile traffic now exceeds desktop traffic! Companies like Yelp have reported that 55% of all searches are from mobile devices. It is safe to say mobile is important for hospital gift shops.

About Healthy Commerce

Healthy Commerce got its start in 2005 with our first website, (HGS). Since that time HGS has grown into the largest network of online hospital gift shops in the United States. We now have more than 550 hospitals under contract and thousands of orders are placed through our partner E-commerce shops every month.

Healthy Commerce provides our partners (hospitals and clinics) with highly-customizable, fully-hosted, online E-Shops, providing our partners with the opportunity to gain a reputable online presence, an enhanced patient experience and added revenue from commissions on all sales. All with absolutely NO financial commitment or overhead required!

Our Mission

We believe that a patient receiving flowers and gifts from a friend or family member can act as a powerful motivating force towards a full and speedy recovery. Therefore our ultimate mission is to aid in improving the outcomes of patients in every hospital nationwide by easily connecting them to their loved ones through an E-Commerce shop located directly on the hospital's website.

Benefits of     

  • We manage the E-shop orders both online and by phone 
  • Customers can reach a live person 24/7 on our 800 line
  • We  manage re-routing for home delivery if discharged
  • We manage returns, cancellations and substitutions
  • The core of our agenda is a continued focus on improved patient experience
  • Allows loved ones who don’t live in the area to easily and conveniently send gifts
  • Improved patient satisfaction
  • We strive to put the patient first, and create a patient- and family-centered culture.
  • Gain added revenue for your hospital
  • Product selections unique to your location
  • Online inventory is virtually unlimited

For more information on how your hospital or clinic can easily and quickly begin realizing the benefits of E-commerce contact Maria Sternlicht at or 760-473-0712.

Improving Patient Satisfaction

How To Improve Patient Satisfaction

Patients’ top concerns

It is imperative that Health systems put patients at the center of all actions in order to improve the patient experience. The “soft stuff” counts to patients, and patients will continue to gauge their quality of care on their own measures (like being treated respectfully) because that’s what they understand. Hospital leaders may believe that patients are more concerned about issues like long wait times, but the data shows otherwise.

To really become transformational and succeed in the value-based care environment, hospitals need to understand their patients’ needs. And the only way to know how to zero in on what matters to patients is by looking at the data.

Present, Happy providers

Patients want to see providers that are present and connecting with them, patients perceive these providers to be more approachable. A doctor walking into a patient’s room appearing to be in a hurry could cause patients to be more reserved and refrain from asking questions because they don’t want to delay the doctor nor contribute to whatever the doctor is dealing with. In another example, if a nurse or a doctor walks into the patient’s room and appears to be upset, the patient is often less likely to engage out of concern that he or she will further upset the provider.

Communication between caregivers

Patients use different measures to determine the level of care they are receiving. Communication between physicians and nurses often influence the patient’s perception of their treatment. For instance, a doctor speaks with a patient and soon after the nurse is asked by the patient to explain what the doctor said, but the nurse is unable to assist the patient because she has not communicated with the doctor. The perceived lack of communication between the doctor and the nurse leads some patients to believe they are receiving substandard care.


Respect is important to patients, they want providers to treat them like individuals and engage them on a personal level. However, providers have been taught to be objective and unemotional. But for patients, this personal connection is very important; they tend to perceive that when providers connect with them on a personal level, those providers will make fewer mistakes.


According to Becker’s Hospital Review “Hospitals’ scores on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey are becoming increasingly important for hospitals to maintain market share and avoid losing reimbursement. Under the value-based purchasing program, hospitals could be financially penalized for low HCAHPS scores. In addition, hospitals' increased transparency and patients' greater involvement in choosing their hospital will force hospitals to provide a positive experience to attract patients. According to HCAHPS, here are some strategies hospitals can use to increase their scores.” 1 

Communicate Cleary and frequently

Communication between providers and patients and also among providers is vital in ensuring a positive experience for patients. Several questions on the HCAHPS survey address communication. For example, the survey asks patients:  

How often nurses and physicians listened carefully to them.

How often nurses and physicians explained things in a way they could understand If hospital staff told them what their medicine was for.

If hospital staff described possible side effects of their medicine.

If physicians, nurses or other staff discussed whether they would have the help they need after leaving the hospital.

If they received information in writing about symptoms or health problems to look out for after leaving the hospital

Patient Follow-up

Hospitals are following up with patients after they are discharged to address questions or concerns, make sure discharge instructions are understood and being followed and to obtain feedback on their experience. Inquiring about a patient’s experience after they have been discharged results in the patient feeling they are being listened to and cared about

Target Key Satisfaction Drivers

HCAHPS surveys, follow-up calls and other tools, are effective measurements that can guide hospitals in determining best practices to ensure patient satisfaction and optimum experience for patients.

Patient Education

Educating patients during their stay is also vital to raising HCAHPS scores. To ensure they can take care of themselves post discharge hospitals must educate people from the day they are admitted. This can be accomplished with individual patient communication, written instructions and videos.  A patient who is educated and communicated to about their condition will have more confidence about the care they are receiving, feel more connected with their caregivers and engaged in their healing process.

Adopting a patient-centric approach can help hospitals stress the importance of patient satisfaction. Hospital staff should approach each patient as they would like a family member treated, hospitals may be a common, everyday place for professionals, but a hospital stay is a unique situation for patients and their family

1. “4 Strategies to Boost Hospitals' HCAHPS Scores” -      Becker Healthcare