A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class is now offered at Pembroke Hospital, taught by Nan Herron, MD. This course, open to all Pembroke employees, is designed to teach techniques to manage stress using meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques. Dr. Herron learned these skills in programs sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness, founded 30 years ago by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD.
The classes are held every Wednesday for one hour. Participants learn how to become more aware of their own reactions to stress and to control how they manage challenging situations. These skills benefit individuals by minimizing the stressors of psychiatric inpatient work. In addition, clinicians are using these skills to develop groups for patients to teach them how to manage difficulties in the hospital as well as after discharge.
Current class participants include doctors, nurses, administrators, allied therapists and case managers. Every week introduces different skills designed to help people become more aware of their behaviors, thoughts and emotions as they happen. With practice, participants find that they can be more in touch with how they respond to situations in all areas of their lives. Most people notice that as they learn more about themselves they develop more choices about how they react when difficulties arise.
Some sessions consist of yoga maneuvers with gentle stretching using mats on the floor. During other weeks the focus is a “body scan,” learning how to be more aware and in control of physical tensions or discomfort by slowly concentrating on the body, one area at a time. Still other weeks participants sit in chairs and do quiet sitting mediation to focus on being aware of how distractions and intrusive thoughts influence daily experience and interactions with others.
Participants describe that they notice immediate results from the course: feeling more relaxed, and an ability to be more focused and productive.