Essential Mental Health Strategies for Nurses

Essential Mental Health Strategies for Nurses

Nurses are a critical part of the healthcare system during public health emergencies. They are highly trusted, compassionate, and willing to go to great lengths to protect their patients. However, with no clear endpoint, COVID-19 is not a typical public health crisis and has created a range of mental health challenges for nurses.

Today’s nurses are working under a cloud of fear and stress, which can lead to physical and psychological symptoms. However, there are steps that nurses can take to minimize the effects of high-stress levels and keep themselves and their families balanced.

A Two-Pronged Approach to Managing Stress

Stress levels cannot be managed through mental health strategies alone. Making healthy lifestyle choices can directly affect an individual’s outlook on life, energy levels, and mood. These five tactics can create a positive impact on mental health:

  1. Eat regular meals – focus on whole foods that decrease inflammation and build immunity
  2. Stay hydrated – choose water instead of caffeinated beverages, which can cause headaches and mood swings
  3. Exercise regularly – a simple walk with the dog can keep anxiety and depression symptoms at bay
  4. Limit alcohol consumption and refrain from smoking
  5. Make sleep a priority and practice good sleep hygiene

When it comes to managing stress levels, a nurse’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. Incorporating these self-love strategies into your daily routine can help:

  1. Practice meditation and/or mindfulness exercises
  2. Make time for relaxation
  3. Take mini-breaks throughout the workday to practice deep breathing
  4. Keep in touch with friends and family
  5. Limit exposure to media coverage of the pandemic
  6. Lower expectations of yourself and others, reminding yourself that “done” is better than “perfect”
  7. Practice positive self-talk, such as “nurses have a purpose and make a difference”
  8. Talk it out with colleagues or a supervisor, because nurses don’t have to walk this road alone
  9. Accept help when offered, and ask for support when needed

Help Children Manage Stress

Nurses with children at home have a responsibility to help them understand and respond to our changing world. Children may pick up on the stress that a parent is feeling and struggle to understand what is wrong. Children need to receive reassurance and guidance that’s centered around safety, consistency, and love.

Here are some tips to help children manage stress:

  • Maintain a consistent family routine – establish set bedtimes and meal times
  • Include children in conversations about the pandemic, but keep their age in mind and help them navigate their feelings
  • Set family rules for proper hygiene
  • Make routines fun for kids – consider singing during handwashing or developing games for wearing masks
  • Remind children that the situation is temporary
  • Allow children to help out around the house to give them a way to contribute – young children can carry dishes to the sink and help tidy up, while older children can take on bigger chores such as cleaning and yard work
  • Reassure children that the parent is safe in their job

Additional recommending reading:

Symptoms of Excessive Stress

Nurses should self-monitor their mental health status on a regular basis and take action when necessary. Symptoms of depression can include:

  • Sleep difficulties
  • Persistent crying or sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness

Nurses who are forced to make clinical decisions that conflict with their ethical training may experience signs of moral distress, such as feeling guilty or ashamed. Other symptoms to watch for include:

  • Difficulty with decision-making or memory
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Risky behaviors
  • Withdrawal from social interactions
  • Unexplained physical symptoms such as headaches, palpitations, and gastrointestinal issues

Nurses experiencing moral distress or consistent symptoms of depression should talk to their supervisor and seek professional help. Early intervention can be critical to working through moral dilemmas and extreme stress. Nurses seeking to connect with a mental health professional can contact their insurance provider for options in their area.

Mental Health Resources

Anyone experiencing suicidal or homicidal thoughts should call 911.

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association lists the following crisis hotlines:

It’s Okay to Take a Break

Nurses who have decided to step away from bedside nursing amid the pandemic should keep in mind that they are not alone. Taking a break and hitting the reset button can be the difference between a nurse developing serious mental health problems and a nurse maintaining their sanity. Some nurses may use this time to further their education from the comfort of their home by enrolling in an online nursing program. An online program can keep the nurse’s knowledge current while potentially offering a pathway to a better position and higher future earnings.

Self-care is vital to a nurse’s health and well-being, especially in the face of a pandemic. Nurses can fill their mental health “bucket” throughout the day using tools of the trade, and perform regular mental health gut checks to ensure that they get the help they need when they need it.

Cindy Blye, RN

Cindy Blye, RN

Cindy Blye is a nurse-turned-writer with experience in Newborn Intensive Care, Pediatrics, and Case Management. Her works include pediatric nurse certification review materials, policies and procedures, training materials, nursing blog articles, health and wellness articles, and local business reviews. Cindy has three grown children and lives with her husband in North Carolina where she enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, and cooking.

6 Best Anatomy Coloring Books (2020)

6 Best Anatomy Coloring Books (2020)

During the COVID-19 shut down in California, I found myself looking for more creative outlets at home. I’m not sure if it was the fact that I suddenly had to home school my two and 4-year old children, or I had been suppressing the urge to start coloring, but I found my self doodling in my daughter’s anatomy coloring books almost as frequently as she was.

I first discovered anatomy coloring books as a nursing student many years ago.  At the time, I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information I was expected to memorize.  I wasn’t sure why, but putting markers on paper helped me remember the anatomy and physiology better then anything else could.

I later learned that coloring the body and its systems is the most effective way to study the structure and functions of human anatomy according to research. 

Here I am now, in the middle of a global pandemic, and I’m coloring again.  My point is that coloring isn’t just for kids. I think coloring with a crayon or marker should be considered a relaxation or stress-relieving technique.  I am surprised that I am just figuring that out now.

A great anatomy coloring book has every body system

•  The Integumentary System
•  The Skeletal System
•  The Muscular System
•  The Nervous System
•  The Endocrine System
•  The Circulatory System
•  The Lymphatic System
•  The Digestive System
•  The Respiratory System
•  The Urinary System
•  The Reproductive System

By coloring each of the body systems, you can learn how the systems effect and work with one another.

Benefits of coloring

Reduces stress and anxiety – coloring helps to relax the brain, in a similar way that meditation can.  In fact, coloring can be a type of meditation in itself.  When you color, it forces you to be still and quiet, which can help generate mindfulness – especially after a stressful day of work, school, or parenting.

Improve focus – Coloring requires attention and allows you to live in the moment.

Improve sleep – Coloring is always better than looking at blue-light electronics like cell-phones; it also much better than browsing through social media, which can cause more stress and keep you awake at night.

Coloring a kidney will help you understand it’s anatomy and function.

Colors and meanings

Since color impacts memory, it is important to know what different colors mean or symbolize.

  • Red: anger, passion, danger, vigor
  • Green:  money, eco-friendly, peace, environmentally friendly, jealousy, envy, fertility & healing
  • Blue:  peace, knowledge, cool/cold, trust
  • Black:  mourning, elegance, death, evil, negativity
  • Purple:  spirituality, royalty, wisdom, intelligence
  • Yellow:  clarity, intelligence, energy, freshness
  • Pink:   girly, romantic, feminine, playful
  • Orange:   warmth, joy, success, balance, freedom

Emotional and Psychological Meaning of Colors..

 

 

6 Best Anatomy Coloring Books:

 

#1.  The Yoga Anatomy Coloring Book: A Visual Guide to Form, Function, and Movement

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This fun mix of coloring book and instructional guide demystifies anatomy for the yoga enthusiast!  This book is great for yoga teachers learning anatomy used in all different yoga poses.

The creator of The Yoga Anatomy Coloring Book is a yoga instructor, licensed massage therapist, and anatomy teacher Kelly. The workbook provides an entertaining and informative journey through the human body, focusing on the bones, joints, and muscles used in yoga.

After an overview of helpful terms, Kelly covers the skeletal system, joints, and connective tissue, followed by the muscular system. Each anatomical feature is illustrated with a beautiful black-and-white drawing of a yoga posture, or asana, to color.

Coloring the bones and muscles, and their names, will help you to remember their location and function, and 32 perforated flashcards enable readers to quiz themselves and study yoga anatomy on the go.

#2.  Kaplan Anatomy Coloring Book

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This anatomy coloring book features detailed illustrations of the body’s anatomical systems.  Plus, Color Guides on every 2-page spread offer instructions for best coloring results so you can study effectively.  The Amazon description states this coloring book has:

  • More than 450 detailed, realistic medical illustrations, including microscopic views of cells and tissues
  • Exclusive perforated, flashcard-format illustrations of 96 muscle structures to color and study on-the-go
  • Clear, descriptive overview on the page opposite each picture, with key learning terms in boldface
  • Self-quizzing for each illustration, with convenient same-page answer keys
  • Full coverage of the major body systems, plus physiological information on cells, tissues, muscles, and development

 

#3.  The Human Body Coloring Book: The Ultimate Anatomy Study Guide

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The Human Body Coloring Book takes an interactive approach to human anatomy that will help users learn, understand, and revisit the subject with ease.

Drawing on an unparalleled library of state-of-the-art specialist anatomical illustrations, The Human Body Coloring Book is structured system by system for ease of use, with comprehensive coverage of the human body from cell to system.

The Human Body Coloring Book is a unique study aid that provides students with an innovative approach to learning. At the same time, the opportunity to self-test maximizes the ability to recall knowledge.

#4.  The Netter’s Anatomy Coloring Book: Second Edition Updated Learn by Coloring

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This Netter’s Anatomy Coloring Book provides realistic drawings, clear descriptions, and must-know terms for an easy way to learn and master anatomy.

You can trace arteries, veins, and nerves through their courses and bifurcations,  and memorize bones and muscle groups.

This book also claims to help learners develop a better understanding of the integration of individual organs in the workings of each body system throughout the human form.

Additional key features:

  • Illustrations small enough for quick coloring, but large enough to provide you with essential details
  • Tips for coloring key structures and quizzing yourself with end-of-section review questions
  • Accompanying tables that review muscle attachments, innervation, and actions
  • Understand the role of anatomy in medicine

 

#5.  The Princeton Review Anatomy Coloring Workbook, 4th Edition

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Another great book that helps with a concise understanding of anatomy.

The Anatomy Coloring Workbook includes:

• 126 coloring plates with precise, easy-to-follow renderings of anatomical structures
• Comprehensive explanations of the pictured structures and anatomical concepts
• An introductory section on terminology to get you started and coloring suggestions to assist you
• A glossary of standard anatomical terms
• New injury & ailment appendices, with additional memorization techniques

 

#6.  Anatomy Student’s Self-Test Coloring Book

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This Student’s Self-Test Coloring Book includes hundreds of anatomically accurate line illustrations to help you learn the human body.

Coloring the anatomy systems helps you learn the shape and location of each body part, making it easier to visualize, retain the information. In addition to clear explanations and instructive content, it features

  • New to this edition: Clinical points text boxes to illustrate the medical significance of the structure
  • 144 two-color pages that lie flat for easy coloring.
  • 16 new pages of text
  • Extra-heavy paper that minimizes show-through
  • Includes every body system and part
  • All parts labeled with correct anatomical names

 

Conclusion

Any of the anatomy coloring books on this list are very detailed and helpful for learning.  Or, if you just need a coloring outlet to relieve stress that also allows you to learn something new, any of these works perfectly.

Additional recommended reading:

 

7 Helpful Tips For Compassion Fatigue In Nursing

7 Helpful Tips For Compassion Fatigue In Nursing

*This post about compassion fatigue in nursing may contain affiliate links.  You can find our disclosure page here.

I first realized that I was experiencing compassion fatigue as a nurse after only two years in the profession.

That’s correct.  After only TWO YEARS, I was already feeling overstressed, exhausted, and cynical about my career.

When my mind finally wrapped itself around this understanding, I thought I’ve barely graduated with my BSN, and I’m ALREADY burned out? How am I going to continue in the nursing profession for an entire career?  

I was frustrated, confused, and, to be honest, a little heartbroken.  I was passionate about helping others, and I did enjoy the mental stimulation that I got as a nurse.  But I couldn’t figure out how there were nurses on our unit who had been doing the same thing for the last 5, 10 or even 20 years.  Didn’t they feel the same way?

Lately, I have spoken with a lot of nurses about their experiences with compassion fatigue. The truth of the matter is that most, if not all, nurses feel spent and exhausted at some point throughout their careers.

What is compassion fatigue in nursing?

Simply put, compassion fatigue is the gradual lessening of compassion over time due to extreme caregiver stress and overwork.  Compassion fatigue in nursing is also almost always tied to the chronic stress that comes with working 12-hour shifts, which can be very physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging, even on a good day.

Unfortunately, compassion fatigue is prevalent in the nursing profession.  But with awareness and the willingness to make a change, it is possible to overcome this chronic, stressful state and learn to thrive within your nursing career again.

Here are seven tips to help deal with compassion fatigue in nursing:

 1.  Find a better work-life balance

Are you rotating days and nights?   Constantly working overtime?   Or maybe just working too many hours per week?

That may work for a while, but it is not a very good long term plan.  Everyone needs a break, especially nurses.

Consider taking a vacation (or stay-cation) and plan a few solid days of  “me” time.  A little TLC can go a long way.   You simply can’t continue to take good care of others before taking care of yourself first.

Becoming a per diem nurse helped me find a better work-life balance.  What can you do to help balance your life?

2.  Make your health the #1 priority

One of the best things a nurse can do to help prevent nurse burnout is to take good care of themselves.  Often this notion is counter-intuitive to nurses because the nature of their job is to put others’ needs in front of their own continually.  Ask yourself, what do I need to be healthy?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take a yoga class or join a gym.
  • Make sure you plan for your 12-hour shifts, so you have healthy snacks while you are at work.
  • Get at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep before a shift.
  • Try meditation or just sit alone with your eyes closed for 10 minutes during your lunch break.
  • Create a calming environment (at work or home) with a stress-relieving essential oil such as Lavender.

3.  Find the “why” in your compassion fatigue

What is it that is causing you to feel compassion fatigue?  Try writing your thoughts down at the end of a few shifts to help figure out what is overwhelming you.

Is there a pattern?    Perhaps you need to plan your shifts differently.  Are there a few personalities in your workplace that you are not jiving with?

Or, maybe you just are not inspired by your chosen specialty.  Permit yourself to be brutally honest.  If a change is what you need, then make a change.

Additional recommended reading:

 

4.  Challenge yourself

Are you under-challenged at work?  There are so many ways to challenge yourself as a nurse:

  • Become a certified nurse in your specialty (or a completely new specialty!)
  • Take on a charge nurse role.
  • Be a preceptor to novice nurses in your unit.
  • Take on additional committee roles.
  • Attend a nurse conference.
  • Change your nursing specialty.
  • Consider advancing your nursing degree.

5. Surround yourself with positive support

Compassion fatigue and nurse burnout are so common among nurses.  Left unchecked, they can lead to mistakes, unhappiness, or even depression.

Share your nursing compassion fatigue struggles with a close comrade from work who can empathize with your effort.   If that doesn’t help, consider talking to a trusted mentor, a therapist, or find a career coach that can help you work your way out of nurse burnout.

Nurses are self-giving creatures by nature, but we must give to our own needs as well.  Crawl out of your shell and start talking it out.

6. Find an outlet

What do you do on your days off that may you happy?  If you don’t have a stress-relieving outlet, then its time to find one.

Is your inner artist craving a creative outlet, such as painting, designing, or even scrapbooking? Does a day on the golf course or an afternoon on the tennis court bring you joy?  Maybe you have been so busy that you have forgotten how wonderfully distracting it can be to become enveloped into an activity that you love to do.

Research has shown that finding a joyful outlet can enhance your mood, increase energy, lower stress levels, and even make your immune system stronger. Find out what makes you happy outside of the nursing profession.

7. Consider new options

Do don’t have to stay in the same place throughout your entire career.  If fact, one of the greatest benefits of becoming a nurse is that there are so many types of nursing careers out there.

Have an honest discussion with yourself about your career.   Are you a med/Surg nurse who has always dreamed of working in the ICU?  Or maybe you are an ER nurse with interest in becoming a flight nurse.  A change in specialty might be what you need to tackle your compassion fatigue as a nurse.

On another note, nurses don’t have to work in a hospital.   Perhaps working in a dermatology office or as a home healthcare nurse would be a better fit. There are so many nursing careers to choose from.   The sky is the limit.  Find your passion!

Additional recommended reading:

3 Reasons Why Nurses Quit

3 Reasons Why Nurses Quit

Why do nurses quit the profession?

Nursing is the most trusted profession in America and has been considered so for decades.   Yet, nurses are burning out at a rate unparalleled to any other profession.

It turns out that nurses may not be getting the same respect and care that they give to their patients and employers.   As a result, many nurses are looking for alternative ways to practice nursing or are even leaving the nursing professional altogether.

I became a nurse as a second career.  Nursing called to me because I genuinely wanted to help people, and I thought that a nurse’s schedule would work better for me as a mom.  Now, seven years into my nursing career, my passion for nursing is still high.

Yet I, like many other nurses, struggle with burnout.  I have even started looking outside of patient care for alternative ways that I can practicing nursing to deal with my struggle.

Sad and tired nurse (This post may contain affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure page here.)

Reasons Why Nurses Quit

#1.  Not having control over work schedules

Hospital nurses are expected to work all hours of the day and night, holidays, and weekends.  And on top of that, many nurses don’t even have control of their schedules (unless they work per diem – which has been a game-changer for me). I can’t tell you how many times I have missed Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s parties, Easter Sunday, Fourth of July weekend, and so many other special events with my family.

Now that I have my own kids, missing these events is so much harder for me, especially if I have to work on one of their birthdays.  This past Christmas, I was lucky enough to NOT work on Christmas Day, but I worked the entire two weekends before, the two days before Christmas, and the day after Christmas. I missed several Christmas parties, and I was so tired on Christmas day that I could barely keep my eyes open.

Thankfully I am not working graveyard shifts anymore, but if I did I would have quit being a nurse a long time ago.  Working night shifts literally made me feel like I was going to explode.  I felt sick all the time, I was in a constant fog, and I even started to get a little depressed.

Here is an idea that can help:  Work per diem or switch to another nursing position that requires a more regular 9 to 5 work schedule such as occupational health or the Cath lab.

#2.  Bullying in the workplace

You have probably heard the phrase “nurses eat their young.”  That is just a clever way of saying that there are many experienced and burned out older nurses bullying less experienced nurses.  It’s also a primary culprit as to why nurses quit working inpatient care.

I remember one of my own experiences with bullying very clearly. When I was a new nurse grad, a nurse I gave report to at shift change would question everything I had done for my patients that day, and drill me about why I didn’t do things differently.  Her attitude was awful, and I could tell she hated her job and being on the unit.  She had been there for many years, and she treated several other new nurses the same way.

There were days where my shift had gone great – until I had to deal with her at the very end.  Then I left the hospital feeling defeated and inadequate just because of some unhappy, grumpy nurse. I did my best to hold my ground and keep my reports as simple as possible.

Eventually, (and thankfully) she quit and we never had to deal with her again.  Things got better for me, but unfortunately, there are still nurses “eating their young” who are lurking within the hospital.

Here is an idea that may help: I took a course called “Crucial Conversations” during my second year as a nurse, and it was so helpful for me.  It taught me how to deal with difficult situations with other co-workers. Sometimes addressing a bully head-on or finding a way to avoid them entirely is the best way to handle the situation.

#3.  Abusive patients or family members

By and large, most patients and family members in the hospital treat the medical staff respectfully.  However, that is not always the case.

In my seven years career as a nurse, I have been kicked, swung at (thankfully never hit head-on!), had a full urinal thrown at me, been cussed out, and told I should “kill myself.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  There are patients who, despite having full capability to execute all activities of daily living by themselves, take advantage of nurses and other medical staff by asking that everything is done for them.  It’s as if we have nothing to do all day except be a personal butler.  At least it can feel that way sometimes. I’d rather not be a character from Downton Abbey, though!

Often when people are in the hospital, it is because they are sick and need to be there.  Nurses are happy to bend over backward to give the best patient care we can for those patients.  Unfortunately, some people take advantage of the caregivers, and over time, it leads to decreased morale and, ultimately, burnout. This is another big reason why nurses quit the profession.

Here is an idea that can help: Nurse abuse is never okay and can be traumatizing for nurses.  Communicate with management any time a patient or family member is abusive.  Ask for help.  Call security if you feel threatened.   Ask for another assignment or take turns with other nurses giving care to extremely difficult patients.   Talk to staff, family, and friends to help talk out your experience. All of these things can help make dealing with difficult patients and their families a little easier.

HEY NURSES!  Remember to sign up for your FREE COPY of “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” E-book in the sign-up box below! (scroll down)

If you are considering leaving the nursing profession altogether, here are a few ideas to help rekindle your nursing career:

Are you a nurse struggling with burnout and considering leaving the nursing profession?  What experiences lead you there.  Please leave a comment!

Additional Recommending Reading:

Simple Stress Management For Nurses

Simple Stress Management For Nurses

(This post about simple stress management for nurses may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure page for more information.)

Nurses are more stressed-out than ever.

It is no surprise that prolonged stress damages the body.  Yet many nurses are dealing with unchecked, chronic stress for years, or even decades.  Still, the passion that many nurses have for helping others drives them to continue forward in their nursing careers.  But who is helping nurses?

The unfortunate truth is that nurses themselves are the ones who must take care of themselves first.   Nurse safety and well-being are not being taken seriously by the very own hospitals where we work so hard and strive to give only the very best patient care.   Nationwide, it appears that hospital administrator’s main priority is making money for the hospital, and the health and well-being of their nurses doesn’t even make the list.

Nurse Stress Relief And Coping Tips

Simple stress management for nurses

Do some hospitals see nurses as indispensable?

For some nurses, it may feel like it.  Even I have felt that despite my own dependability, clinical knowledge, and positive attitude that it wouldn’t matter in the slightest if I left.    The feeling is disheartening.

For example, I became a per diem nurse after the birth of my first child because a unit director stated that they were “unable” to give me consistent scheduling so I could plan daycare for my child.  Per diem nursing gives me the flexibility to schedule my days to fit my childcare situation; however, now I have no benefits, no disability, no retirement, and no maternity leave – and I had another baby this year!  Needless to say, it was a hyper-expensive year for us and caused a lot of stress for me.

But, they knew another nurse would come along and fill my spot.  So why be flexible with my schedule so that I could stay?

I still have a passion for nursing, despite the stress.

Workplace stress in nursing is common.  I am not leaving the profession soon because my children are still very small, and I still do have a strong desire and passion for helping others.  So in the meantime, I make stress management a huge priority in my life.

If you are a nurse who feels like me, keep an eye out for nurse burnout symptoms that could be wreaking havoc on your overall health and happiness.  And start taking simple steps to help keep stress in check, so you don’t end up as a patient yourself.  Nurses shouldn’t be creating unhealthy habits to cope with their stressful nursing careers.  And if it becomes too much where your health is severely being affected negatively, then consider other nursing options away from the bedside.  Nurse, you need to take care of yourself first!

Simple Stress Management Techniques For Nurses:

1.  Watch a funny movie

When was the last time you had a good laugh?  Do you even remember how good it feels to laugh out loud?  Watching a funny movie is a great way to passively tune out and focus on something more light-hearted.  Especially for nurses who deal with immense stress in the workplace.

Studies show that laughter is so good for your health.  A good laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.  Also, laughter increases your immune system by decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

Laughter makes people feel good, which is precisely what stressed-out nurses need.   It releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Studies show that laughter has the power to promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Woman watching a funny movie and laughing

2.  Get moving:  endorphins are natural stress reducers

Get your heart rate up on your days off!  The benefits of exercise have been well documented is essential for nurse self-care.  It is no secret that regular exercise helps control weight, boosts overall energy, improves your mood, and helps decrease stress levels.  Not only does exercise benefit the nurse personally, but it also allows nurses to have the stamina to give better care to patients as well.

Need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.  Which, in turn, will help manage caregiver burden and help you feel your best.

3.  Yoga:  learn the art of how to relax

Yoga is a great stress management tool for nurses. Compassion fatigue can be overwhelming for nurses, and learning how to use yoga for relaxation can help.

study published in Workplace Health & Safety on yoga for self-care and burnout prevention of nurses found that yoga participants “reported significantly higher self-care as well as less emotional exhaustion upon completion of an 8-week yoga intervention.” While the control group demonstrated no change throughout the course of the study, the yoga group showed a significant improvement in scores for self-care, mindfulness, and emotional exhaustion outcomes.

Nurse self-care in the form of yoga is scientifically proven to be beneficial:

  • Stress management.  A study published in the National Institute of Biotechnology Information investigated the effects of yoga on stress coping strategies of ICU nurses. After only eight weeks of yoga, the results showed that the participating ICU nurses had significantly better focus coping strategies and a significant reduction in perceived mental pressure.  (If that is what can happen after only eight weeks, imagine the impact a regular, permanent yoga practice could have on stress management levels!).
  • Prevent or eliminate chronic low back pain.  Chronic back pain in the nursing population is a common ailment. An evidenced-based review at the Texas Women’s University reported that estimates of chronic low back pain among nurses range from 50%-80%.  Yoga not only increases flexibly but increases muscle strength and prevents injuries such as chronic lower back pain.
  • Prevent burnout and compassion fatigue:  study published in Workplace Health & Safety on yoga for self-care and burnout prevention of nurses found that yoga participants “reported significantly higher self-care as well as less emotional exhaustion upon completion of an 8-week yoga intervention.”

Woman doing child's pose.

4.  Have a social life

Good friends can help you manage chronic stress.  It is essential to find balance when you work as a nurse, and that includes making time for friendships and a social life outside of the hospital.

Nurses with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure, and an unhealthy body mass index.  Talking with other nurses who are struggling with the same stressors, you are can help provide support when you need it most.

Having a good social support group can help in many other ways:

  • Increase your sense of belonging and purpose as a nurse
  • Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
  • Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
  • Help you cope with traumatic situations in the workplace, such as patient deaths and abusive or combative patient situations
  • Supportive friendships can encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise

5.  Meditate

Meditation is the practice of focusing your mind on a particular thought or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.  It is claimed to reduce stress, anxiety, and burnout, and enhance resilience.  And stressed-out nurses working long, arduous shifts with often changing schedules need this more than anyone.

A few benefits of meditation:

  • Decreased burnout
  • Better focus and ability to ignore distractions
  • Boost compassion
  • Better sleep
  • Stress relief
  • Happier state of mind



Headspace is an app for your phone that has many different meditations, each lasting 10 to 60 minutes. If you can find 10 minutes in your day, then you have no excuse not to meditate!  Meditation is attainable for even the busiest of nurses!

Like yoga, meditation is a practice. There is no good or bad. It is just what it is at the time. You can keep practicing to train your mind to do better the next time. And then eventually your brain is rewired by the habitual repetition of meditation, and it becomes easier.

It is not uncommon for hospitals to have a space for spiritual prayer or meditation for patients and their families.  However, nurses should also be offered a meditative space to clear their heads and have a quiet moment to themselves.  This would help nurses return to their work environments with renewed energy and focus on giving better patient care.

Women meditating on bed

6.  Eat nutritious foods

Nurse break rooms are notorious for having sugary snacks like donuts, cookies, or other unhealthy junk food all within an arms reach.  Sweets are so tempting to nibble on when you are tired and need a little extra energy.  But then a few moments later you crash and are even more tired.   On another note, eating nutritious and easy snacks will keep you energized during a 12-hour shift. 

Pack snacks like these in your lunch bag to help keep your blood sugar levels balanced during your shift:

  • Baby carrots, broccoli or other veggies & hummus
  • Celery and almond butter
  • Strawberries, blueberries
  • Granola and yogurt
  • Almonds or cashews
  • Avocado toast
  • Sliced apples and peanut butter
  • Cottage cheese with pineapple or banana
  • Trail mix

Tips for nurses to make healthy meals fast:  Try making a big batch of quinoa, brown rice, or black bean pasta to have handy in the fridge.  These are a few great staples that you can build a nourishing meal around.  When you get hungry, you can mix in a protein, veggies, nuts or seeds, dried fruits, or even just enjoy them with a little olive oil and sea salt.   The key is to have healthy food that is easy to prepare BEFORE you get super hungry.

P.S.  HEY, NURSES!  Remember to grab your FREE E-Book “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” below! (scroll down)

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Nurse Burnout Symptoms To Watch Out For

Nurse Burnout Symptoms To Watch Out For

(This post about nurse burnout symptoms may contain affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure page here.)

The nursing profession tends to attract the most compassionate and empathetic people alive.  For that reason, nurses are also the most susceptible to experiencing “burnout.”  Eventually, chronic overwork and stress can lead to nurse burnout symptoms such as exhaustion, anxiety, physical injury, or even depression.  If you have been a nurse for a while, then you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.

Nurse burnout symptoms don’t start right away.

A novice nurse is so fresh.  The happiness to be done with nursing school combined with the excitement of having the title R.N. after your name moves the new nurse optimistically through each 12-hour shift.

Yet, many nurses find themselves experiencing nurse burnout symptoms, sometimes after only a year or two in the profession.  Still, they continue working with the same rigor and determination without taking good care of themselves.

A tired nurse holding her head down with nurse burnout and compassion fatigue

Here are a few nurse burnout symptoms to look out for:

1.  Chronic exhaustion

Have you ever gotten 8 hours of sleep yet still felt exhausted when you woke up?  Or, are you so tired that you can’t imagine how you are going to make it through another 12-hour shift?  If so, you may be experiencing chronic exhaustion.

Many nurses aren’t just tired; they are completely worn out.  Not only do nurses work long 12 hour shifts, but many nurses are working mid shifts, night shifts and overtime. Studies show that the longer the shifts for hospital nurses, the higher the levels of burnout and patient dissatisfaction.

2.  Compassion Fatigue

Nursing is a caring profession, and compassion is one of the essential elements of patient care.  However, constantly caring for others’ needs before your own can lead to compassion fatigue.  Symptoms of compassion fatigue include emotional exhaustion, irritability, and poor job satisfaction.  You simply cannot be a good nurse if you begin to dislike your job.

If you find yourself feeling like you are losing compassion for your patients because you are experiencing this nurse burnout symptom, then you owe it to your patients and yourself to take a break.  Go on a vacation, play a round of golf, take a yoga class, or find a way to get some quality alone time to recharge your batteries.

3.  Losing your passion

When many nurses are asked why they decided to go into the nursing profession, they say it was because they had a “passion” for helping humankind.  Passion is exactly what drives us to do good work.  So, if you feel you are losing your passion, then it may be a good time to find it again.

Stagnation is the killer of passion.  Do you feel like you are no longer learning within your specialty? Perhaps it is time to become certified within your specialty or even find a new specialty altogether.  Nursing is a career for lifelong learners.  Learning keeps us educated, and it can also help you find your passion for nursing again.  It’s a win-win!

Nurse burnout symptoms to watch out for.

More is expected of nurses than ever before.

Nurses need to find a work-life balance more than ever.  Heavier patient loads and the physical demands that come with working arduous 12-hour shifts are killing the spirit of many R.N.’s.  To top it off, it seems as if hospitals are trying to save money in any way they can, and unfortunately, that usually translates into less and less resources for nurses.

The bottom line is this:  when nurses take care of themselves, they can give the best possible care to their patients.  This scenario is a win-win for everyone involved:  nurses, patients, and the business people who are managing healthcare.

As nurses, we simply cannot continue to burn the candle at both ends and expect a good outcome.

If you are experiencing nurse burnout, there is hope!  You can beat nurse burnout and even rediscover your passion for nursing.  A result of my own nurse burnout was that I became a nurse blogger to vent my frustrations and help find solutions for my own burnout.  However, it is your responsibility to figure out why you are unhappy within your career and find your nursing passion once again.  You too, can beat nurse burnout!

P.S. Sign up to receive your FREE COPY of “The Nurse’s Guide To Health And Self Care” at the bottom of this post!

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