Even before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, nurses have always had a tough job and been subject to burnout. Nurses work long hours, handle tough situations day in and day out, and often have very little time for themselves. And then COVID-19 hit, sending hospitalizations to new heights.
Once the pandemic showed up, nurses’ jobs got even harder than they were in the first place. Hospital beds filled up fast, leaving little to no room for new patients. Caseloads piled up, giving already overworked nurses even more to worry about. These days, a nurse’s work is filled with stress and heartbreaking tragedy. When nurses do get time off, it can be tough for them to unwind and put the workday behind them.
Apart from the pandemic, other factors can make life difficult for nurses, too. For example, a nursing shortage has put a strain on an already over-taxed field. Many nurses reached retirement age around the same time, and the amount of new nursing school graduates didn’t make up for the number of retirees who left the field.
With all of these factors coming together, it’s more important now than ever that nurses have ways to take care of themselves. Without self-care and personal boundaries, nurses can experience burnout quickly, and when nurses are burnt out, they make more mistakes on the job, feel resentment toward their patients, and may even quit long before they had intended to do so.
Below is a list of ten apps that nurses may find helpful, especially during this pandemic. Some are designed specifically for nurses, while others are meant for anyone who could use some self-care and stress relief. In any case, they’re some of the best stress relief apps for nurses. These apps focus on a range of life improvements, from encouraging mindfulness to providing hydration reminders to helping anxious minds fall asleep faster.
If you’re a nurse who’s struggling with stress, take a look at the list below. You may find some helpful options. Some of these apps are free, while others are paid subscriptions. Take some time to explore your choices and see if any of them help. Whether you’re looking for stress relief strategies for nurses or stress relief for nursing students, the apps below can help you get started.
Staying hydrated is one of the simplest things that people can do to take care of themselves. It’s an essential part of life, and it helps people stay energized and healthy. It’s also one of the first things that people forget when they get busy. It’s easy to forget to sip water when one’s brain is filled with worries and responsibilities. Nurses in particular may struggle to stay hydrated while their minds are focused on other things. Enter WaterMinder, an app that can help busy nurses keep up with their water intake. This app is available in Apple’s App Store as well as Google Play. It sends friendly reminders for its users to drink water at different intervals, and users can also check their progress within the app. Because this app works with the Apple Watch, it can provide reminders on the go, which is great for nurses who spend a lot of time going back and forth between patients and tasks. The more a person uses the app, the more achievement badges they can earn, which provides an incentive to keep going. This helps ensure that users turn their water-drinking goals into long-term habits.
2. All Trails
All Trails is one of the best stress relief apps for nurses who want to spend more time outdoors. Having a good work-life balance is important for everyone, especially nurses, and especially during a pandemic. One important self-care activity is making sure to spend enough time outdoors. Since nurses spend their work shifts indoors under fluorescent lighting, spending time outside during the off-hours can be a refreshing change of pace. Some nurses fulfill their need for fresh air and exercise by hiking. For those nurses, and for those who want to try hiking for the first time, there’s the All Trails app. Just like its name implies, All Trails is a large collection of trail guides that hikers can use to plan their routes. Users can discover new trails near their own homes, or they can find the nearest trails wherever they may be. Travel nurses in particular might enjoy this app to find trails near their assignment locations. The app lets users filter trails based on different factors, including difficulty level, so those who are brand-new to hiking can get started at an easy pace.
3. Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation
Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation is based on a straightforward premise: When nurses take care of themselves, they set an example for others to do the same. The idea is for nurses to focus on their own health, inspire their friends and family to take care of themselves as well, and create a ripple effect that can reach farther than most users may have imagined. When nurses commit to their own health, this app asserts, the world as a whole can become a healthier place. That’s easier said than done, of course, since nurses tend to put others’ wellbeing ahead of their own. Plus, it’s hard to know where to get started when creating new health goals. This app is here to help. Once users sign up, they can take a health assessment, personalize their health goals, and connect to other like-minded nurses for advice and support. It provides clear and measurable options for nurses who want to create healthy habits for themselves.
4. Down Dog
Down Dog isn’t just for nurses, but it is offering its premium services free for healthcare workers until July of 2021. Down Dog is a yoga app geared toward absolute beginners, highly experienced yogis, and everyone in between. It has several routine options with different lengths and difficulty levels. Users can customize their yoga routines to fit their needs, choosing everything from the focus to the voice of the yoga instructor. Yoga is a great option to add to a self-care routine since it benefits both the mind and the body. Plus, it doesn’t require much time. One can practice yoga for just a few minutes a day if that’s all the time they have. When practiced regularly, yoga can become an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, lower blood pressure, and increase flexibility. For nurses during a pandemic, yoga is a simple, free, and healthy way to take some time for themselves. Down Dog provides a great starting point and makes yoga practice accessible.
Of course, none of these stress relief techniques for nurses can reach their full potential when they’re not backed by a good night’s sleep. Sleep is one of the most important factors in a healthy lifestyle, as the makers of Slumber know. It promotes better mental health, better blood pressure, better responses to stress, and better performance on the job. That last factor is especially important for people in the healthcare field. That said, sleep is getting more and more difficult for everyone these days. The stress of 2020 has taken its toll on everyone. Between the pandemic, the volatile presidential election, job insecurity, and an entire host of other factors, sleep has become elusive for many. For nurses in particular, getting enough sleep can be even more of a challenge than it is for everyone else. Not only do nurses work demanding hours, but they also have to deal with extreme pressure that makes it difficult to wind down at night. The Slumber app can’t deliver more reasonable work hours, but it can help nurses unwind and fall asleep when they do come home from work at the end of the shift. The Slumber app has the largest sleep library in the App Store, with sleep meditations, soothing bedtime stories, and gentle sleep sounds to encourage rest. These options can help users transition from “work mode” to “relax mode” so that they can redirect their brains to a more restful place. It’s a great source of stress relief for nursing students, too.
Some people turn to daily lifestyle changes when looking for stress relief techniques for nurses. The key to a healthy lifestyle is building healthy routines. It’s a simple concept, but it’s not easy, especially for nurses who work long hours and spend their days focusing on other people’s health. A lot of nurses would love to develop healthier routines, but getting started can be overwhelming, and nurses these days are overwhelmed enough as it is. The Fabulous app can help. When developing new routines, a lot of people make the mistake of trying to change everything at once. Then, they get overwhelmed and often quit before their new routine can do them any good. Fabulous takes a different approach. It helps its users develop healthy habits by acting as a convenient digital life coach. Fabulous users focus on adding just one healthy habit at a time to their daily routines. Once a user has had time to develop one habit, they can add another habit to their routine. These habits help people reach various goals, including the goal of having more energy. The “baby steps” approach lets busy, overwhelmed nurses upgrade their routines in a doable way. Fabulous also helps users build their motivation as they go, which is also important when establishing a new routine.
Meditation is one of the top stress relief activities for nurses, but not everyone knows how to get started. Thankfully, starting a meditation practice doesn’t have to be daunting, thanks to an app called digipill. Digipill is a unique app that can help nurses clear their heads, get some sleep and explore healthy lifestyle options. It’s a guided meditation app, but unlike other meditation apps, it’s divided into different “pills” or “prescriptions” that users can store in their virtual pharmacies. Users can select a “pill” for sleep, energy, focus, a quick break, or a variety of other things. The “T break” pill comes free with the app, while other pills come at various prices. These pills are one-time purchases, so users can return to their sessions any time after they buy them. Another option is to get a monthly or yearly subscription, which provides access to all of the pills in the virtual pharmacy. The app has a sleek, contemporary, and simple design, which may appeal to those who don’t connect with more ethereal-looking meditation apps. Since it’s goal-focused, it can help users get exactly what they need — nothing more, nothing less. Users don’t have to weed through a bunch of “extras” or fillers to get what they’re looking for. For those who are skeptical or unsure about whether meditation can help them, digipill can provide a no-nonsense way to get started.
One of the simplest, most beneficial ways to establish a healthier lifestyle is to begin with a regular meditation practice. Meditation is a useful tool for many people, and it’s one of the best stress relief strategies for nurses. Most people who meditate daily experience better moods, lowered stress levels, and even lower severity of certain mental illnesses. Meditation can also help people stay focused during the day, which is essential for nurses with a high caseload. That’s where Omvana comes in. Omvana is a customizable meditation app that appeals to beginners and lifelong meditators alike. It’s a guided app that users can customize to their needs and lifestyles. Omnvana offers different meditation tracks for different goals, including getting more sleep, attracting more wealth, and gaining confidence. In addition to choosing different tracks, users can tweak their experiences with music, sounds, and more. With this app, nurses can find some space to clear their heads and take some time for themselves, which can help them return to the job refreshed and better equipped to handle the workday.
9. Aloe Bud
When it comes to self-care, especially during a highly stressful situation, simplicity is the key to success. When goals become too complicated, they can also become unreachable. Thankfully, Aloe Bud is here to make self-care routines easier, even for busy people like nurses. It’s chock full of stress relief activities for nurses and non-nurses alike. Aloe Bud is a simple self-care app with a soothing design and several features that can help overwhelmed nurses. Users can set reminders to drink water, take a break, connect with loved ones, or be mindful throughout the day. It also has space for journaling and other activities. This app works well for those who prefer gentle reminders over “tough love” methods. The Aloe Bud designers were very intentional about creating a gentle app instead of using shame or irritation to get the job done. The app uses push notifications to nudge users in the right direction. With all of the harshness and stress in today’s world, especially in the nursing field, sometimes gentleness and simplicity are exactly what people need with their self-care.
10. Smoke Free
Smoking and stress go hand in hand. Most people with a daily smoking habit find themselves reaching for a cigarette during times of high stress. For a lot of smokers, 2020 resulted in a lot of cigarette purchases. That’s unfortunate, because smoking causes lung cancer, emphysema, and other health problems. It also takes a toll on people’s energy levels, which is especially unhelpful for nurses who have a lot of work to do these days. Plus, smoking harms the immune system and leaves people vulnerable to disease, including COVID-19. Now, nurses know perfectly well that smoking isn’t good for them. They also know that nicotine addiction makes it hard to quit. For those who smoke, pandemic stress can lead to a vicious cycle. Stress makes it more difficult to quit smoking, and smoking can lead to increased stress. Smoke Free is an app that can help smokers, including those in the healthcare field, quit for good. It uses evidence-based techniques to help users stop the smoking habit, and it shows users their progress, including how much money they’ve saved, how much their health has improved, and more. Many former smokers found success with Smoke Free after other methods failed.
More on Self-Care for Nurses
Self-care is easier said than done, of course, especially for nurses. After all, the nursing profession tends to appeal to those who put others before themselves. For some nurses, focusing on themselves doesn’t come easily, especially during a time when so many other people need care. In fact, some nurses even tend to feel guilty when they focus on their own needs.
So, what can a stressed-out and overwhelmed nurse do to relieve some of that stress? The first step for many nurses is realizing that self-care isn’t selfish. Nurses can start by reminding themselves that they matter just as much as anyone else matters. If that thought feels a little too foreign at first, then another option is to remember that nurses who take care of themselves are better at taking care of their patients because they have more energy to do so.
Next, nurses can seek support for themselves. This might come in the form of seeing a therapist, for example. Therapists can help nurses form healthy coping strategies, work out a healthy work-life balance, and more. Plus, therapists can help nurses address concerns that have nothing to do with nursing. Some therapists work specifically with nurses and other healthcare providers, so they know all about the issues that nurses face today.
For some nurses, however, therapy may be too much of a time commitment or too expensive. For those who can’t seek therapy just yet, confiding to friends and family members may help. There’s also a wealth of apps and services that can nudge nurses in a more positive direction for themselves. These apps for nurses aren’t a replacement for face-to-face healthcare or therapy, of course, but many people find them helpful.