How often do you think about your own mental health as an agency nurse? Do you ever just pause inside the crowded storeroom or when getting into your car after a shift to reflect on how you feel? Though it may seem unnatural for some of us, our mental health needs attention too. Technology can play a part, so read on to explore 7 apps nurses should consider to start prioritising their mental health.
Looking after yourself and your mental health as an agency nurse is imperative to prevent burnout but to also increase resilience and control over your life and all its moving parts. But sometimes we need a reminder to concentrate on ourselves and that’s exactly what the month of October is. It’s Mental Health Awareness Month! Now is the time to focus on you and what is really important.
How often do you stop everything you’re doing and just pause? Listening to the sounds around you, the thoughts in your head and how you feel? Though it may sound fluffy and “un nurse like” to spend time prioritising ourselves, it may help lower stress, improve our sleep and allow us to focus more.
Headspace is a user-friendly meditation app that cuts to the chase. It features fun and witty illustrations which are guaranteed to make you smile. Plus you get an abundance of short audio mindfulness sessions that teach you how to relax. And from what the reviews (and my personal experience) say - it works.
In regards to cost, the app is free to download and offers a 10-day beginners course which is well worth a go if you’re new to meditation. However, to unlock the nitty gritty benefits of the app you’ll have to pay around $6 per month.
Link to - Headspace website
Link to - Download the Headspace app
Much like Headspace, Calm is an innovative and thoughtfully created app to help you relax and focus. And it’s hugely popular with over 1 million reviews. It offers music, sleep tips, guided meditation and mindfulness practices to help you focus and take a time out from your busy nursing lives.
The app is free to download but does cost around $15.00 per month to unlock all the features.
Though attempting meditation in the nursing tea room may be out of the question, who said a few minutes rest and focus once you get home from a shift isn’t achievable? Sometimes we just need somebody to show us how, with Calm doing just that.
Link to - Calm website
Link to - Download the Calm app
Exploring and developing your own mental health as a nurse may not mean sitting quietly meditating and focusing on being mindful. Sometimes what we really need is the run, jump, kick and punch to feel alive, let off some steam and dive into why we are feeling a certain way.
Strava is a fitness app which allows you to track your exercise, specifically cycling, walking and running. Though there are an abundance of fitness apps throughout the App Store and on Google Play, we like this one because you can share your exercise experience and goals with your friends and family, creating your own fitness community. We are learning that staying fit and maintaining a positive headspace (particularly when living in Melbourne right now) takes encouragement, shared goals and even some healthy peer pressure.
The app is free to download here, offering a range of features but will cost you $5.00 per month to unlock the app's full capabilities.
Wim Hof Method
You might have seen Wim or “The Ice Man” as he is often called on extreme sports shows sitting in buckets of ice for hours on end and thought, “is that guy for real?” Though he appears out there and to possess superhuman powers, there may be a thing or two we can learn if we dare to try.
Wim uses three distinct pillars; cold therapy (stick with me), breathing and commitment to achieve a range of health benefits such as improved sleep, increased energy, heightened focus and determination and enhanced creativity - just to name a few.
Though Wim may not be every nurse's cup of tea for providing relaxation, his breathing and meditative techniques have been tested and proven by scientists to make a difference. Though I am new to Wim’s practice I am hungry to learn more and curious about the possibility these techniques can have on my life as a nurse.
The app is free (download it here) with lots of videos to guide you on your way.
Yoga Down Dog
Most of us are aware that yoga can increase our flexibility, improve muscle strength and tone and even help us lose weight. But did you know it can also help reduce anxiety, stress and your quality of sleep? Even with this knowledge, how often are we really hitting the mat?
Using a handy app such as Yoga Down Dog offers not only yoga but also HIIT, barre, 7 minute workouts and even prenatal yoga sessions. The app is simple to use, making the excuses harder to come up with.
Improving your mental health through exercise doesn’t necessarily mean you need to sprint up a hill, jump rope for 30 minutes or smash out 100 push ups like a crazy person. A simple downward dog and a few cat cows can work wonders.
Download Yoga Down Dog here
When you think about your nursing schedule do you feel stressed, anxious and overwhelmed? Though there is generally no consistency to a typical nurse's schedule, it doesn't mean you cannot be organised and feel somewhat in control.
My Shift Planner is an incredibly comprehensive calendar app which easily allows you to keep track of your shifts. It can be seamlessly integrated with your personal calendar and can be personalised to suit your own look and feel.
Though there are an abundance of shift work calendar apps on the market, this one is feature rich, easy to use and is also free, making it a clear stand out. Download it here.
Feelings of depression, anxiety and suicide doesn’t discriminate. Beyond Blue, an Australian Organisation, provides support, resources and guidance to all Australians, for free, whenever they need it. And it seems that in 2020 we need this support more than ever.
According to the ABC, “Beyond Blue has noticed a 30 percent increase in calls since social restrictions came into play, and their online discussion forum has a record 50,000 views.”
This year nurses, ironically in the year of the nurse, are working harder and longer, whilst covered in more PPE than we ever have before. We are so focused on not only providing effective patient centered care but also trying to juggle homeschooling, caring for our elderly relatives and looking out for our isolated friends. So we sometimes forget about number one.
Beyond Blue is available via an app and on the web. There is no shame in seeking help and admitting that things are not okay. Download the app here.
In summary, it’s okay not to be okay. 2020 has thrown us more roadblocks than we could have ever imagined and for most of us it hasn’t been easy. Acknowledge the moments your mental health is wavering by TAKING A BREAK from this high stimulus, active environment. Give one of our apps a go or pick up the phone and talk to someone. Help is never far away.
Co-Founder The Other Shift