Reflections from a Physio and Busy Mum

by Sarah Duncton

I became interested in Mindfulness a good few years ago now. All of a sudden it seemed to be the buzzword in Physiotherapy and the management of pain and other stress related disorders.

Having worked as a Physiotherapist for around 20 years and also having carved out an interest in helping people with chronic pain disorders I thought I’d better find out a bit more.

I read a few books and listened to a few CD’s, but I was fairly underwhelmed.

Mindfulness wasn’t going away however, which is when I decided I better enrol on a course to learn more, seeing as I was recommending it to my patients.

Attending a live class

I did my first beginners course, 3-4 years ago, really with the intention of understanding better this ‘method’ I was recommending to my patients who were stressed, depressed and/or in pain.

What I gained from then attending several courses over the next two years or so was far from underwhelming.

Learning ‘how to be mindful’ has helped me both professionally as a physiotherapist but also personally as a mum/wife/daughter/business owner and friend.

The nature of my work is that there is a knock on my door every 30 mins, and a new person enters with their story of pain often associated with worry/fear/distress/frustration…..

Importance of Mindfulness at work

For me, the need to be ‘in the present moment’ is vital so that I can keep up with the pace of the diary, as well and being able to create a therapeutic bond with every person that comes in to my room.

At times I may be hearing a particularly traumatic story, or be dealing with someone who is highly anxious, and practicing mindfulness during the consultation can prevent me from getting ‘swept away’.

Simply the focus on my breath at these times gives me a level of resilience I didn’t use to have.

I feel I can be much more present with people’s discomfort, without it having a negative effect on me.

I also now recognise when I’m being mindless.

It used to take me three attempts to leave work, and I’d go back to pick up my keys, and back again to turn off the computer, and maybe a third time to collect my lunchbox! I pack up ‘mindfully’ now, and usually only leave once!

Mindfulness practice helps being a Mum!

Another key aspect of my life, where I feel Mindfulness has helped me no end is in my role of Mummy.

Having children has been the highlight of my life by a long, long stretch, but it has also introduced me to level of frustration, fury and rage I didn’t know existed!!

Naturally now I am more able to gauge ‘where I am at’ I have strategies to use at particularly frustrating times like meal times and bedtimes when they were really little and now homework times and switching off the iPad times that stops me from ‘flipping my lid’.

I’m able to recognise when I need to walk away and just ‘re-connect and breath’ and somehow I’m just able to be a bit kinder to myself and to them around these times.

I’ve also taught them little mindful practices, which they do for a few minutes if they are particularly over tired and struggling to sleep or if they have hurt themselves.

We use an image of a flower opening and closing on my phone and they will ask ‘can we breath into the flower’. I wish I’d learnt to do that when I was 5!

Better late than never…

Article written by Sarah Duncton.

Sarah runs Physio Art, a Physiotherapy and Pilates practice based in Edgbaston, Birmingham. She has an interest in all things health, exercise and wellbeing related and has developed an expertise in helping people with long-term painful conditions.  To find out more take a look at www.physioart.co.uk

Follow Sarah on Twitter here.

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