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Best Practices for Promoting Good Mental Health Among Nurses

Discover how you can safeguard your mental health and promote the wellness of other nurse practitioners and healthcare workers.

For many practitioners in the field, nursing is more than a career—it’s a calling. A call to provide high-quality treatment, impact patient outcomes, and improve the overall delivery of healthcare services. But in order to extend the most effective and compassionate care possible, it’s critical that nurse practitioners and healthcare workers prioritize their own wellness. This is especially true for front-line COVID-19 workers, who experienced conditions akin to a war zone and reported increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.1 To safeguard your mental health and promote the well-being of other nurses, there are a number of helpful practices that you can apply.

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Best Practices for Promoting Good Mental Health Among Nurses

Check in.
In many ways, nurse practitioners are able to perform their job functions by exercising healthy detachment, a method used to prevent burnout and compassion fatigue. But checking in—with yourself as well as other nurse managers and staff—is equally important. Once a day, perhaps following a shift, ask yourself how you’re feeling. Ask your co-workers how they’re feeling. By bringing awareness to the emotional experience, you and your fellow nurses can become more attuned to the thoughts and emotions that arise during times of stress and identify how to move forward together.

Encourage acts of self-care.
Acts of self-care are critical to maintaining good mental health, especially for those serving in a caregiver capacity. And though the outcomes may be similar, such as a stronger sense of self or more patience, self-care can vary in practice. For some nurse practitioners, self-care might look like attending a weekly yoga or art class. For others, it may mean curling up with a good book or spending time in nature. What matters most is that self-care is encouraged regularly and centered on physical, mental, and/or emotional nourishment.

Extend sincere recognition.
Receiving meaningful recognition has a tremendous effect on the morale and mental health of nurse practitioners. And according to those in the field, recognition from patients, families, and fellow nurses makes the biggest difference. Evidence also suggests that recognizing nurses for their contributions creates a healthier, more harmonious environment.2 A healthier work environment leads to happier nurse practitioners. When you notice someone doing a good job, tell them. Eventually, the appreciation you extend will likely be returned as the work culture begins to shift for the better.

Commit to a group exercise program.
Exercising is just as important for mental health as it is physical. It helps to relieve stress, improve sleep, and can even act as a mood booster. However, with a busy nursing schedule, it can be challenging to stay motivated. By linking up with other nurse leaders, practitioners, and co-workers, you can get on track and have more fun as you get into the swing of a regular workout routine. Go on group hikes, sign up for fitness classes, or join a recreational league together and get those endorphins flowing.

Foster a strong support network.
For nurse practitioners, having a good support system in place is invaluable. By surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals with shared experiences, you can better manage feelings of loneliness and isolation that often accompany difficult times. Take note of the work relationships you find the most comfort in, as well as the ones you’d like to forge moving forward in your nursing career. Perhaps you already have a network of peers you regularly turn to for support, providing the same in return.

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1Source: https://mhanational.org/mental-health-healthcare-workers-covid-19
2Source: www.aacn.org/nursing-excellence/standards/aacn-standards-for-establishing-and-sustaining-healthy-work-environments
3Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) IPEDS database. Based on the most recent year of completions survey data available, using CIP code family 51.38 “Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research, and Clinical Nursing” for Master’s degrees (Award level 7). Available at https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/use-the-data. (Retrieved January 2021; may consist of or include provisional release data.)

The baccalaureate degree program in nursing (BSN), master’s degree program in nursing (MSN), and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at Walden University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (www.ccneaccreditation.org).

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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