Oncology nursing is a rewarding profession that offers nurses opportunities to build meaningful relationships with patients and families, manage complex patient situations, and provide compassionate care during a scary time in someone’s life. But what makes oncology nursing so special can also make nurses more vulnerable to occupational stress, which can lead to compassion fatigue or burnout.   

What the Research Tells Us 

Self-care for nurses is considered part of a holistic nursing practice. Engaging strategies such as journaling, mindfulness, and retreats may decrease or prevent burnout. It is worth it, too, because without caring for yourself it is unlikely that you can care for others with the compassion and understanding they need.

How to Practice

The good news is that self-care doesn’t have to be time consuming or complicated. Here are five strategies that you can practice even if you just have five minutes:

  1. Stretch: Raise your arms above your head and stretch them long, or stand and twist from the left to the right. Sometimes just checking in with your body and giving it a couple of good stretches can help you conquer the rest of your day. 
  2. Listen: Do you have a tried and true song that lifts your mood? Find a private space or put on your headphones to immerse yourself in the song for a couple of minutes.
  3. Draw: Being creative or just filling in a coloring page can get you away from stress and focused on creating something. Need inspiration? Here's a coloring page to get started.
  4. Journal: List three things that bring you joy or three things that you are grateful for. Some people do this at the start or end of the day. I dare you to try not to smile when you think of the things or people who bring joy into your life.
  5. Move: A five-minute walk can help you get away or give you time to breathe. You could even grab a friend to talk through a situation.

What self-care practices work for you? Share your ideas at n.ons.org/2UF4mhi.