There is no denying the fact that COVID-19 has put extraordinary stress on nurses across the country, even the world. Nurses are spending long hours on their feet, working longer shifts than normal and constantly putting out fires in the form of health emergencies. Add into that the fact that there was already a nursing shortage with not enough nurses to replace the ones that are retiring. It’s enough to make a nurse go crazy if they don’t take some time for self-care and get away from the strain of working on any given floor in a hospital. Unfortunately, many nurses are foregoing their own personal healthcare in order to take care of those in need and are burning out at a rapid pace.
It’s estimated that 50% of qualified nurses in the United States are 50 years or older. Many older nurses are retiring early or quitting their jobs as nurses to work in other fields. What’s not disputed is the fact that there will be a large number of nurses retiring in the next 15 years with fewer nurses coming into the field to replace them. Part of the problem stems from a lack of qualified faculty, clinical sites and classrooms. The shortage of new nurses to replace the wave of nurses that are retiring is putting pressure on the ones that remain in the workforce. This has been an ongoing problem prior to the pandemic, but the issue has made itself prominent in a time where healthcare facilities require all available hands on the floors to handle the ongoing healthcare emergency.
Vaccines for the coronavirus are starting to reach the general populace, but it will take time for normalcy to return to the world. Medical staff will remain under pressure until the population at large is vaccinated and herd immunity has stabilized. There may be seasonal breaks in the rate of infections, but the virus is not easily tamed, nor is it going to disappear for some time to come. Nurses have to make sure to put themselves first so they can be mentally and physically fit to take care of those in need.
The following stress relief apps are suitable for nurses who need to take a break from their stressful jobs. The apps approach self-care in many different ways, but all are designed to provide constructive support for the mind and body. When used consistently, these apps help you carve out a space in your life that is free from the stresses of work and help you learn about useful mental tools that nurses can deploy during heightened periods of stress. The pandemic has nurses finding themselves pushed to limits they never knew they had. Instead of breaking under the strain, self-care in the form of stress relief apps help nurses gain control of their emotions, relieve stress on their minds and bodies and take charge of the situation in front of them with a clear mind.
Moodfit describes itself as “fitness for your mental health”. It seeks to encourage users to journal their moods, engage in daily mental exercises, track their sleep cycles, and guide users in therapy techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness. The app is loaded with beneficial features that cover just about every possible action a stressed-out nurse can take to find relief from the mental pressures. Moodfit is one of the best stress relief apps for nurses due to its comprehensive features and non-intrusive method of delivering real-time data and supportive information.
The app reminds you to engage in activities such as breathing exercises, practice gratitude which helps elevate your mood by seeing the good in the world, engage in mindfulness meditation to help you calm your mind and body, and has daily goals that help you improve your mood while keeping you on track with your duties. There’s also an option to combine different features together for a custom mental stress relief routine.
2. Happy App
The Happy app is a simple concept, but it’s one that provides stress relief for nursing students and nurses alike. Happy gets people to reach out and connect with one another through phone calls with a purpose: to talk to another human being who will listen and provide positive support to the caller. Coronavirus has isolated people even if they’re nurses working with patients. It’s difficult for nurses to find time to talk to someone who has an idea of what it’s like to deal with patients and the virus. Nursing co-workers may not want to listen or express themselves to other nurses. Happy gives nurses an outlet by offering the opportunity to talk to someone who listens and understands what they’re going through.
Happy is one of the best stress relief strategies for nurses who have little in the way of outlets. The app categorizes listeners, known as Givers, into categories such as financial troubles, relationships, health issues and more. All you do is tap the icon that best fits your needs and let the app connect you to a Giver who is familiar with the kind of listening you need. Time for finding support groups and attending meetings is almost non-existent for many nurses due to the demand for caregivers in all reas of healthcare. The Happy app bridges that gap by making it easy to talk to someone who is there to listen and provide constructive advice.
3. A Nursing State of Mind Podcasts
A Nursing State of Mind podcast consists of two nurses talking about various coping mechanisms nurses can use to handle the stresses of COVID-19. They also offer practical ideas that nurses can directly relate to and use during their workday. The podcasters give a well-rounded look at what the working life of nurses is like during these unprecedented times, what nurses can do to cope, how to find solutions to the unique problems that come with the virus, and a feeling of community for nurses who would otherwise feel isolated.
Knowing that there are other nurses who are experiencing the same conditions and problems as you are is a form of support that may be hard to come by otherwise. The feeling of a shared burden is a reassuring one, can help you find relief from stress, and also informs you that you are not the only one who has made certain kinds of decisions when it comes to patient care.
Reflectly is a journaling app that offers self care, tracking of your mood, and offers insights to what you’re writing about. It’s a great stress relief app for nursing students who are entering their roles during a pandemic. The app helps users identify what is at the core of their stress through an AI that looks for and tracks stress indicators. It also asks questions related to journal entries for a deeper look at the problems you’re facing and their causes. Reflectly provides graphs that track stress levels over 10 days and has mood correlations so users can identify what made them feel a certain way in a given moment.
A major component of stress in the workplace is the inability to do more than act, react and think about the problems of the moment. There’s little time to stop and reflect on what’s happened and understand why you’re feeling stressed. Over time, the stress builds up with no way to release due to the seemingly endless shifts taking care of sick people. Reflectly’s focus on journaling gives a nurse the opportunity to pour out the stress into an app that analyzes the language used and comes back with analysis, reflection and insight along with suggestions on how to find stress relief.
The Headspace app helps you engage in various meditation techniques to help you find relief from stress, sleep better, engage in mindfulness and reduce the levels of the emotions and reactions that all build up the stress levels. You start using the app for a few minutes every morning and watch a video with a positive story, advice for having a good day, exercises to get your body moving and advice on eating foods that help your mind and body feel better. Headspace is designed to be used seven days a week with short content bites that are different every day. One feature of the app includes helping you understand meditation and how to engage in the practice in settings where you least expect to be able to meditate. The app helps you find awareness of your motivations, causes of your stress, and how to think more positively.
Headspace demonstrates the fact that these skills are attainable in short amounts of time. This makes it one of the best stress relief apps for nurses who don’t have a lot of time to devote to following information in an app. The short-form programs in the app make it perfect for moments of downtime when a break isn’t possible, but there’s enough of a lull in the activities to relax for a few minutes.
Balance is an app that adapts to your needs and preferences over time. It bills itself as a personalized meditation audio program and delivers a selection of files based on your preferences. The app asks different questions on a daily basis and determines which files best fit the needs of the user. Some of the questions include how you’re feeling in the moment, what kind of goals you have, your age, and where you’re at in your education or career. The responses to the questions are then used to assemble a selection of meditations that are relevant to your responses. The more you use the app and answer the questions, the more relevant the files become.
Meditation is a proven stress relief technique, but it can take work to become comfortable with using it for stress release. An app like Balance makes it easier for you to practice meditation and make it align with your goals and needs through the use of audio files that address your state of mind. Having support in the form of relevant information and guidance makes the act of meditation less intimidating as well as increasing its effectiveness.
Colorfy is a coloring book app that works on phones and tablets. Let your mind wander as you pick out a color to fill in the white space on your screen and find your worries melting away. The beauty of Colorfy and other apps like it is the fact you can pull out your phone during a moment of downtime, load the app and mentally check out for a few minutes. Sometimes you need to take breaks when you find them and Colorfy offers an alternative to checking emails that you can’t answer or reading news headlines that can add to your stress. The app provides wonderful stress relief activities for busy nurses who need a break, but can’t get away for more than a few minutes at a time.
On the surface, coloring book apps for adults may seem like they won’t do much for stress relief, but the exact opposite is true. The simple act of picking colors and turning a black and white image into vibrant colors stimulates your mind into producing serotonin and pulls you away from the stress of your work. Your mind is focused on the task in front of you, not on the stressful situations that you’re dealing with. Nor do you have to complete the coloring in one sitting. Rather, you can pull up the app, give yourself a few minutes to work on a section, and return to work feeling refreshed because you mentally stepped away from work for a moment.
The Calm app is a comprehensive app that teaches users how to engage in different stress relief modalities. It features a masterclass section full of videos from recognized experts in multiple fields. Sit down during a break period and watch a video with advice you can consider later or use techniques in the moment. If you want to engage in meditation more frequently, use the meditation section to help you find your inner calm. There’s a section full of gentle exercises that aid you in getting your body to unwind, release the physical effects of tension and get yourself ready for the next phase of your day. Calm also has exclusive music selections that help you tune out and let your body relax.
Calm offers many stress relief techniques for nurses that can be used whenever there’s an opportunity to step away from the chaos or to prepare for the working day. The app has a whole body approach through physical exercise, maintaining sleep hygiene, helpful advice and visual stimulation that takes the mind off stressors. It’s designed to deliver the type of stress relief you need at a given moment without burying what you seek under multiple layers of categories.
The Dare Response app is a targeted stress response app that lets you identify the type of stress you’re feeling in a given moment and gives you advice on how to handle it. When you’re in need of help, you pull up the app and tap on an icon that best represents the stress you’re experiencing. The app leads you down a series of choices that play audio clips of music in keys that are known to soothe a stressed mind, pick out a breathing exercise that helps you stabilize yourself and relax, or an article that helps you understand why you feel the way you do and how to resolve the feelings in the moment. The app provides solid stress relief techniques for nurses when they’re at work or just getting off a shift.
The Dare app is based on the book of the same title and authored by Barry McDonagh. It’s not necessary to buy the book and read it for the Dare app to be effective, but you can benefit from reading the book and applying the techniques you learn with the app. The book offers static information that you can easily refer back to and connect to the more fluid aspects of the app. Ultimately, there is never such a thing as too much stress relief, and the more tools you have at your use for your own self-care, the better.
10. What’s Up?
What’s Up? is an app that uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance commitment therapy (ACT) to help you deal with anger, stress, anxiety and other negative emotions. The app helps you recognize 12 common negative thinking patterns and gives you the tools you need to overcome them. It delivers metaphors to remind you to think and handle negative emotions or feelings. A diary function helps you journal your thinking and emotions as well as letting you rate how you feel. There’s also access to forums so you can connect with others who are in a similar situation and find support from people who share their experiences and self-care techniques.
What’s Up? is a straightforward app with lots of beneficial features to help take your mind off of stress and onto yourself. Take a break, log into the app, and play the grounding game, learn about common thinking patterns and how to break out of them, and track how you’re feeling at any time of the day. The features in the app offer some of the best stress relief techniques for nurses who need a change of pace even if it’s for a short time.