Believe It or Not, You Can Face the Day With Little to No Caffeine
Caffeine is an integral part of daily life for many. Food and beverage manufacturers are capitalizing on our consumption beyond daily cups of coffee, putting the stimulant in everyday foods like donuts and bottled beverages, including water. However, too much caffeine may affect our health, leading the Caffeine Awareness Alliance to designate March as National Caffeine Awareness Month. You’re in good company if you use caffeine as a regular way to start your day, but here are some strategies if you want to cut back.
Four R’s and Resilience Approach Help Oncology Nurses Respond to Morally Distressing Challenges
Disparity. Inequity. Futility. Barriers. Miscommunication. Unacceptance of the inevitable. Ethical and moral challenges perpetuate throughout practice for today’s healthcare workers, particularly oncology nurses in cancer care. As those burdens build up, nurses struggle to sustain their resilience and risk developing burnout or even leaving the profession entirely.
How I Practice Mindfulness as an Oncology Nurse
The nursing profession both rewards and challenges me: Like many of you, I give so much of myself, but sometimes I’m running on reserve. Over the years, I have been asked how I keep it together and stay calm. As I reflected on such questions, I realized that I unconsciously practice mindfulness throughout my day.
The Power of Reading on a Nurse’s Well-Being
Reading is ubiquitous in life: Whether it’s to learn or understand something at work, to identify the right item at the grocery store, or to simply unwind at home, we regularly find ourselves reading many times throughout the day. But intentionally escaping to the pages of a great book can help improve our personal and professional well-being.
How Nurses and Administrators Can Respond to the Prevalence of Violence in Health Care
As a clinician in inpatient cardiovascular and acute care nursing and as a healthcare administrator, like many of my colleagues across the nation, I have encountered many violent situations in the workplace. Healthcare workers account for 73% of all violence-related nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses, and nurses bear the brunt of that statistic, with 44% reporting physical violence and 68% reporting verbal. In fact, in 2022, more than two nurses were assaulted every hour. The rate of violence-related injuries is higher in health care than in all other occupational settings. But data often reflects reported incidents of violence. Its true prevalence is likely much higher because workers may believe that violence is part of the job and don’t report events, and not all events cause an injury.
Violence in Nursing
Across all nursing specialties and settings, 60% of nurses reported experiencing an incident of workplace bullying and incivility and 29% confronted at least one incident of violence in 2022, according to the American Nurses Foundation 2022 Workplace Survey report. And it’s escalating—violence against hospital employees and healthcare professionals has increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, with 44% of nurses reporting having experienced physical violence and 67% verbal abuse between February and June 2020 alone.
The Case of the Resistance Relevance
Maria is a Black nurse who has worked at her institution’s cancer center for several years. She enjoys educating her colleagues about burnout and well-being to create a happier and healthier work environment and actively supports the institution’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) committee priorities and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) nurses in practice.
Mentorships Open Opportunities for Oncology Nurses’ Career Growth and Wellness
Oncology nurses recognize the value of mentorship in their practice, crediting it to bridging knowledge gaps, identifying best practices, building confidence, and providing a rock and safe person to go to. January is National Mentoring Month, and we’ve asked ONS members to share their own experiences that have helped them grow professionally and personally.
CMS Releases Memo on Workplace Violence Requirements for Hospitals
To combat the increasing incidence of healthcare workplace violence, hospitals must “identify patients at risk for intentional harm to self or others, identify environmental safety risks for such patients, and provide education and training for staff and volunteers” so that workers can deliver care in a safe setting, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services’ (CMS) Quality, Safety, and Oversight Group (QSOG) and Survey and Operations Group (SOG) said in a November 2022 memo.
Wrap Up the Year With Reflection and Gratitude
Self-reflection is natural as we transition between years, and sometimes doing so can be difficult. Brains seem to really like to hold onto the lows, but give yourself equal time to celebrate the highs you experienced this year and reflect on all you’re grateful for as you get ready for another trip around the sun.
Give Thanks for Your Well-Being With Healthy Recipes for Your Holiday Gatherings
The holiday season is an opportunity to unwind, practice well-being, give thanks, and—this month in particular—acknowledge your gratitude for people, circumstances, items, and other things you value and appreciate in your life. Whether you’re celebrating in person or virtually, coming together and spending time with your loved ones is both exciting and overwhelming. Indulge a little, but support and prioritize well-being for both yourself and your loved ones with healthy renditions of your favorite or traditional holiday side dishes.
Color Out Your Stress and Anxiety
More than an activity for children, many people find that the cathartic art of coloring, particularly intricate patterns and swirling mandalas, may help them destress. The first adult coloring book was published in the 1960s, but adults began embracing the idea en mass in April 2015 when illustrator Johanna Basford was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered. By the end of that year, 12 million adult coloring books were sold in the United States.
Listening to Nurses Is a Start, but Hearing Them Leads to Solutions
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Nurses Foundation has monitored its effect on the nursing profession through a series of surveys, the most recent of which collected specific information on staffing, scheduling, organizational support, and solutions. More than 11,000 nurses contributed to the survey, but those who identified as retired were not included in the data analysis. As I read the findings, the report’s subhead—Nurses Not Feeling Heard, Ongoing Staffing and Workplace Issues Contributing to Unhealthy Work Environment—caught my attention. How does one confirm feeling heard?
Tea Soothes Your Soul and Supports Your Well-Being
Throughout history, many generations have used a hot cup of tea to promote mental and physical wellness. The discovery of tea dates to 2732 B.C., when leaves from a wild tree blew into Chinese Emperor Shen Nung’s pot of boiling water and the pleasant scent compelled him to take a sip. The legend says that the emperor described how the liquid gave him a warm feeling that invigorated his body and soul.
Workforce Violence Requires Legislative Support
Health care is a hazardous professional industry. As a calling more than a career, providers understand the risks associated with patient interactions. Florence Nightingale’s environmental theory of nursing calls for nurses to tailor a patient’s surroundings to their treatment plan, and that includes creating a safe space for patients and providers alike.
Vision Boards Turn Your Dreams Into Reality
Vision boards are a collage of images and phrases that represent your goals, dreams, and attitudes; they help you manifest your aspirations by physically placing your thoughts into the world. Although few studies have measured their effectiveness, experts suggest that creating a vision board can help you reach your goals.
Use This Checklist to Take a Stress-Free Vacation
Summer is synonymous with vacations, and vacations require logistical preparation. (What will I pack? What should I plan to do?) But it’s also important to ready yourself mentally for a period of wellness and rejuvenation to reap the full benefits of a well-deserved getaway. Making a checklist can help eliminate the stress of both, before and during your travel.
Health Worker Burnout and Resignation on the Rise, U.S. Surgeon General Warns
Although healthcare providers have long faced challenges in the healthcare system, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated circumstances and ushered a rising healthcare worker burnout crisis in the United States, according to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s, MD, MBA, warning in May 2022.
Self-Affirmations Build Your Personal and Moral Resiliency
Positive phrases or statements that challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts can motivate you, encourage positive lifestyle changes, and boost your self-esteem. Repeat self-affirmation mantras regularly to fully reap the benefits of this practice and make long-term changes to the way you think and feel.
Rest, Unwind, and Reflect so You Can Lead by Example
Many nurses, even those in leadership, believe in the misconception that well-being is an indulgence or luxury they cannot afford, but this simply isn’t the case: it’s an investment that can improve your effectiveness, especially as a leader.
Spring Clean Your Home and Heart
Slowing down to recenter can often feel unrealistic amid a nurse’s competing priorities. However, cultivating internal and external stability can improve life at the bedside and beyond. A clean home and heart can make it easier for us to navigate day-to-day responsibilities and engage in the love and relaxation we deserve as the day winds down.
Empower Your Nurses With Appreciation in Celebration of Oncology Nursing Month
With ONS celebrating Oncology Nursing Month throughout May and recognizing National Nurses Week from May 6–12, it’s a season for nurses everywhere. Celebrate yourself, your colleagues, and the profession by empowering the incredible nurses caring for patients across the globe.
Younger Nurses Are Leaving the Profession Because of Emotional Health
Young nurses are “less emotionally healthy and less optimistic about the future,” even after accounting for age and years of nursing experience, according to findings from a 2022 study conducted by the American Nurses Foundation. High levels of burnout correlate with drones of professionals leaving the nursing field, the foundation said in its Pulse on the Nation’s Nurses Survey Series: COVID-19 Two-Year Impact Assessment Survey.
The Historic Art of Paper Folding Can Also Enhance Healing
Paper folding, also known as origami, has roots in several cultures, including Japanese, Chinese, and European. Origami’s exact origin is unknown. Although we have no concrete evidence of origami existing before 1600, a reference to origami butterflies in a 1680s poem suggests that it was an established art form with much older origins.
American Rescue Plan Funds Will Reduce Burnout, Promote Mental Wellness Among Healthcare Workforce
The United States is investing $103 million to improve healthcare worker retention and respond to the ongoing nursing workforce shortage by reducing burnout and promoting mental health and wellness for healthcare professionals, particularly those in underserved and rural communities, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in January 2022.
Music Reminds You of the Love You Deserve
Does hearing a certain song suddenly energize you or make the day seem brighter? There’s a reason for that. Music can have a powerful effect on our well-being and is a tool nurses can use to help take care of their mental health.
COVID-19’s Impact on Our Nursing Leaders
Rewind. I adjust the strap on my mask and pinch it tightly around my nose and move it just under my lower eyelashes to prevent my goggles from fogging. These days, I am grateful for the face cover as it hides the pallor from six months in and the dark circles from long hours and anxious sleep. I wait at the valet circle for my team. Another SOS text out to them this morning. All hands on deck.
ANA Advocates to Prioritize Healthcare Workers’ Safety After CDC’s Updated Guidance
In late December 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated COVID-19 guidance, shortening the recommended time for isolation for those who tested positive for COVID-19 to five days followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. Organizations that advocate for the well-being of healthcare professionals, such as the American Nurses Association (ANA) voiced their concerns and urged national leaders to prioritize those on the frontlines.
Mental Health Teams Build Programs That Prioritize Staff Well-Being
Given the inherent nature of caregiving, burnout has been part of the nursing profession since the beginning. As the complexities of the profession increase, so do nurses’ vulnerability. Oncology nurses have multiple physical, emotional, and mental demands, which, if left unaddressed, can lead to burnout, compassion fatigue, and moral distress.
Show the World Your Beautiful Mess
Embracing—not judging or hiding—our flaws and vulnerabilities makes us happier and more relatable, a research-supported concept called the beautiful mess effect. What we think are negatives or weaknesses, others see as courageous. Showing vulnerability can lead to stronger relationships, increased self-esteem, and better mental health.
How Nurses Can Monitor and Strengthen Their Mental Health
As nurses, the inclination to nurture and care for others is in our nature, yet sometimes we forget to care for ourselves. That’s an easy routine to fall into, but optimizing our mental well-being improves both the quality of care we provide and our overall health. So today, right now, is all about you. Here are four simple, sustainable ways you can safeguard your mental health, which includes your emotional, psychological, and social well-being, amid the ever-present chaos.
Live a Life in Balance
Although you may not always believe it, living a balanced life is not out of reach. Nurses have a variety of ways to achieve daily balance and well-being, both informally and through dedicated programs. Today, institutions and nursing organizations alike are prioritizing initiatives to support and strengthen nurses’ well-being.
Find Solace in Silence
A balanced life allows us to function at our best. Our bodies do that naturally through homeostasis, a familiar term from nursing school, by self-regulating physiological processes to ensure equilibrium and optimal functioning. But our brains sometimes need help to self-regulate, and one way to do that is to practice silence. After a day of noise and action, silence and solitude can calm and restore you.
HRSA Releases Health Workforce Projections and Dashboard
Tracking health workforce projections, such as supply and demand of healthcare professionals by discipline, and studying how funding, policies, and programs affect those levels, can “inform public policy to help prevent shortages and surpluses,” the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced in September 2021. To achieve that, HRSA created a new dashboard that uses projections from the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis, based on the Health Workforce Simulation Model (HWSM).
It Takes a Team to Confront Moral Distress
Unbearable levels of stress, burnout, frustration, disappointment, and even fear are plaguing today’s healthcare providers more than ever before. But for oncology nurses, moral distress and compassion fatigue have always been in the background when caring for patients with a serious illness.
Lessons From Our Olympians Apply to Nurses, Too
The Olympic Games are about inspiration: individual and team athletic achievement, well-earned medals from rigorous and lengthy training, and underdog stories of joyful winners. Many of those lessons learned during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have meaning for us as nurses.
Can Compassion Bust Burnout and Restore Resilience?
Stress is a normal and necessary part of life. However, prolonged emotional tension takes stress to a new level for many people, including oncology nurses. But what is the antidote to cumulative pressure? The evidence for compassion’s benefits during stress is compelling.
A Deliberate Well-Being Plan Protects You From the Hazards of Your Work
Well-being is as much part of an oncology nurse’s personal protective equipment as gloves and gowns are, Lisa Blackburn, MS, APRN-CNS, PMGT-BC, AOCNS®, from The James at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, said in a session during the ONS BridgeTM virtual conference on September 16, 2021. Just as a construction worker needs a hard hat, safety vest, and harness, oncology nurses need equipment to protect themselves from the hazards of their work, and “it’s more than manis, pedis, and massages,” Blackburn said.
Nursing Shortage Is a National Crisis, ANA Tells HHS
The nursing shortage has reached dire proportions and more needs to be done to ensure the United States has the nurses we need to care for the public, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Nurses Association (ANA) said in a September 2021 letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging the agency to declare the shortage a national crisis and to take action against it.
It’s Okay to Put Yourself First Sometimes
Are you at—or well over—the brink of burnout? Do you feel like you give, give, give and cannot find the time to refill? Those are common feelings for nurses, whose profession is a service to humanity. Although our work is rewarding, it’s also physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. Never feel guilty or judge yourself for stepping away and taking time for yourself—it’s essential to maintain the high level of care you provide every day.
The Seven Dimensions of Rest
Sleep and rest are two different concepts. Society focuses on sleep, but rest is just as important, and not just for the physical body. Rest allows us to nurture our physical, mental, emotional, sensory, creative, social, and spiritual self. Each of those dimensions needs to be consciously rested for a person to truly feel restored.
Strong Social Relationships Strengthen and Sustain You
Social distancing was never intended to be social isolation, but many of us have struggled to maintain relationships in today’s world. Human beings are built to be social, and science has shown that building strong, meaningful relationships can get us through tough times, provide physical and mental advantages, and make us happier. Perhaps a silver lining of the pandemic is a newfound appreciation for social connections with friends, colleagues, and community.
Conflict Engagement Helps Providers Focus on Care
Nurses have an innate drive to improve healthcare delivery. When I was a unit director, I focused on nursing unit turnarounds to improve quality of care. I used mediation as the model for resolving long-time conflicts and provided training to effectively engage and communicate. I started my mediation practice in 2003 to help physicians, nurses, and administrators resolve the complex issues that get in the way of patient care and create stressful work environments.
Multimethod Approach Supports Providers’ Mental Health During COVID-19
Providing variety of methods and approaches allows healthcare workers to choose the best options for them to mitigate and treat psychological distress from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, researchers said in a preliminary report published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Fast-Tracked Our Growth as Nurses
For the past 15 months, healthcare providers across the country risked their lives to care for those who needed us most. After spending more than a year at the forefront of a global health crisis, many of us, naturally, harbor feelings of stress and anxiety. Now that the world is returning to something resembling normal, we can pause, reflect, and observe how much we’ve all grown throughout this experience.
Time in Nature Is Time Well Spent
“Nature alone cures,” Florence Nightingale instructed her fellow nurses in Notes on Nursing—and we’ve continued to follow that principle, creating a healing environment for our patients that involves fresh air and sunlight. That same environment can promote health in nurses as well.
The Key to Managing Moral Distress During a Pandemic? Resiliency
Oncology nursing has always been a challenging career with many stressors, but the moral distress brought on by a global pandemic has increased rates of depression, anxiety, and professional burnout among nurses, Patricia Jakel, RN, MSN, AOCN®, and Devin Ballentine, RN, BSN, both of UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center, said during a session for the 46th Annual ONS Congress™ on April 22, 2021.
ANA: Nurses Should Remember the Importance of Self-Care
Nurses are selfless caregivers. However, compared to the average American, they are more likely to be overweight, have higher levels of stress, and get less than the recommended hours of sleep. Long shifts and work hazards only exacerbate nurses’ propensity for those factors. In response, the American Nurses Association (ANA) is raising awareness for nurses to think about themselves.
Don’t Get Trapped in the Pitfalls of Perfectionism
Having high expectations can motivate you to achieve your very best. In the extreme, however, aiming for perfection can be dangerous to your mental health. In a 2015 TED Talk, self-proclaimed perfectionist Petra Kolber passionately revealed that despite being at the top in her field in the fitness industry, she felt her best was never good enough and she lived a joyless life.