Wellness Corner

Nurse Shares: Peace and Positivity

Kate Carey-Trull

Pictured: Rattikarn “Ratti” D’Amico begins and ends each yoga session by sitting and closing her eyes, taking a few minutes to clear her mind, be quiet and breathe. 

Rattikarn D’Amico, or Ratti to friends and colleagues, shares her positive attitude with patients and coworkers, helping them reduce stress through breathing exercises, stretching and yoga. 

A psychiatric nurse at St. Vincent’s Medical Center Behavioral Health Unit in Westport, D’Amico has practiced yoga for more than 20 years and said it started as exercise. Now, she practices it mindfully as a meditation, and began teaching out of her home to interested friends and colleagues. She also works on stress-reducing stretching exercises with colleagues. 

Stress and depression hit her during the pandemic. 

“When we first had lockdown, I was studying from home, my son was doing virtual learning and my husband was working from home. It was really hard not to have your own space. It was a lot of stress,” she said. “There are so many things we aren’t able to control and we have to let it go. That is why it is so important to be happy and healthy and spread positivity. 

“Depression can be a silent disease, making it hard for me to focus. I had a lack of motivation, but then I found a meditation program. I put it into practice, using stretching and breathing exercises. It helped me improve my focus and coping skills.” 

In the last year, she connected yoga with breathing, practicing mindful breathing to better understand why it is so important. Because it’s working well for her, she wanted to share her strategies. 

“We learn in nursing school that when people have anxiety and breathe too fast, it can cause a release of cortisol and increase the heart rate and stress,” she said. “If you can control your breathing, it can help you control your stress.” 

She finds it interesting that an anti-anxiety medication can take 30 to 45 minutes to work, but breathing exercises can help calm a patient in just a few minutes. When interviewing patients in triage, she said she sees many dealing with anxiety and depression. 

“They often don’t have coping skills, and start drinking and using drugs because they don’t want to deal with the reality and pain,” D’Amico said. 

It is important to put it into everyday practice, she said of mindfulness and yoga. 

“We all deal with stress and anxiety every day, but there are ways to turn it into positive energy and get through the day,” she said. 

Posed for Success

Photos by Rusty Kimball

Warrior Pose: Standing strong, legs stretched-out, this pose is good for quads and thighs. Extend one leg and bend the other, making sure your back foot faces straight, and the foot where the leg is bent faces to the side. Stretch both arms out straight.

High Lunge: Spread legs apart, lower your back knee and take a deep breath as you raise arms up in the air. Then exhale. This is good for releasing tightness in the lower back.

Tree Pose: Bend one knee and tuck the foot up against the other leg. This is good for balance and helps with focus.

Extended Side Angle: Place one hand on the floor and stretch one leg out while the other knee is bent. Beginners can modify the pose by placing one hand in front of the leg and reaching for the floor. More experienced yogis can reach the hand behind the leg, staying balanced, for a different stretch.