As an oncology nurse, you’re well acquainted with the unique honor of caring for patients with cancer. You witness the emotional and physical struggles of patients on a day-to-day basis, you actively participate in their grief, and you see firsthand the discomforts associated with the end stages of life.
Over time, this level of commitment can take its toll. That’s why, during Oncology Nurses Week, it’s crucial to prioritize self-care and give yourself some well-deserved recognition.
Today, we’re here to share six ways to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work you and your team dedicate to patient care—both during this special week and all year long.
Why Is Self-Care Essential for Nursing Teams?
Put simply, self-care refers to the activities you engage in to maintain your physical health and emotional well-being. Sometimes, that means treating yourself to a mani-pedi on your off days. Other times, it could involve taking a much-needed day off and recharging your batteries with the help of a book, a cozy blanket, and a cup of tea.
As an oncology nurse, self-care serves as an outlet to prevent the unwelcome feeling of burnout. It’s designed to refresh you physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, and socially.
Ultimately, self-care is important for several reasons, including:
- Maintaining your mental health – When your role involves overseeing the care of others, particularly oncology patients, it’s easy to unintentionally place your own needs in the back seat. Integrating self-care practices makes it simpler to prioritize yourself and your well-being.
- Ensuring the best patient care – You’re probably familiar with the airplane safety reminder that instructs passengers to put on their own oxygen masks before assisting others. This principle extends beyond patient care, highlighting that by taking care of yourself, you enhance your ability to bring empathy, support, and excellence to your role as a nurse.
- Improving team dynamics – A nursing team that jives with one another is the kind of team that’ll have each other’s backs when someone needs a helping hand. Prioritizing the unity of your colleagues demonstrates your concern for their well-being and creates a trusting environment that lends itself to better collaboration, communication, and support.
6 Self-Care Ideas for Yourself and Your Team
You don’t walk the oncology halls on your own, so as you ramp up your self-care strategies, why not spread the love and share some rejuvenating practices with your coworkers?
Below, we’re sharing six ways to honor yourself and your fellow teammates during Oncology Nursing Week—and any time you need a feel-good moment to reaffirm why you do what you do.
#1 Acknowledge Your Contributions and Growth
Reminding yourself of the numerous ways you’ve grown in your career can be quite an unexpected mood and confidence booster. Not only does it allow you to celebrate each chapter in your professional journey, but it also doubles as an act of self-care, as it fosters a sense of accomplishment and reinforces your resilience and dedication to personal and professional development.
Here are a few ways you can acknowledge your achievements and contributions to your nursing career:
- Keep a journal – Document a positive occurrence from each of your shifts throughout the week, and take a moment to reflect on all of those uplifting moments at the week’s end.
- Celebrate your milestones – Whether you’ve recently reached a certain number of years in the field or you just finished your first travel nursing assignment in oncology, take time to recognize your achievements, no matter their size.
#2 Encourage Team Appreciation and Unity
Appreciating your team can go a long way toward creating a more cohesive nursing unit. It can boost morale, increase job satisfaction, and strengthen your bond as a team. Below, we highlight a few ways everyone can show their appreciation for one another:
- Create a gratitude board – Use sticky notes to express your appreciation for your teammates and hang them on a gratitude board. Whether you’re acknowledging a personality trait you appreciate or sharing a story of a time a coworker excelled in their role, these small gestures can go a long way in fostering a positive team environment.
- Spread the love– A ‘thank you’ is a phrase with the ability to make a big impact on someone’s day. During Oncology Nurses Week, try telling one coworker each day why you’re grateful to have them on your team. Your simple thank you could mean the world to them—and fill up their metaphorical cup with positivity.
#3 Incorporate Mindfulness Practices
Mindfulness practices revolve around being aware of how you’re feeling at any given moment. From reducing stress to improving your sleep, there are many potential benefits of making mindfulness meditation and other practices part of your routine.
Here are a few quick and effective ways to practice mindfulness while you’re at work:
- Mindful breathing – Focus on your breathing for a few minutes. During each inhale, breathe in deeply. Feel the breath as it enters and leaves your body and the sensation that each breath creates. If you’re feeling stressed, this is a quick tool to help you regain your center and manage your anxiety.
- Mindful walking – As you transition from one task to the next, walk purposefully, focusing on each step. Feel the sensation of your feet as they make contact with the ground. This can help bring your focus back to the present moment.
#4 Promote Team Bonding and Relaxation
In addition to offering intentional words of appreciation, there are other strategies you can take advantage of to promote a sense of comradery and bonding for your team:
- Team building outings – From hosting a group lunch to sipping on lattes at your favorite cafe, spending time as a unit when you’re not on the clock allows you to learn more about one another and bond on a more personal level.
- Wellness workshops – If time permits, bring in an expert to conduct a workshop on self-care topics such as stress management, nutrition, and mental health awareness.
#5 Ensure Balance and Well-Deserved Breaks
When you’re working, you’re giving your patients your all—your time, your emotional support, and your expertise. Put simply, your profession is a labor of love, and to continue giving patients the care they need, you have to make sure you’re doing the same for yourself. Sometimes, that means giving yourself a break when you need it.
Below are a few ideas to help you find a balance between working and taking occasional breaks while you’re at work:
- Implement flexibility in work schedules – Whenever possible, explore options to introduce flexibility in work schedules for both you and your team. While specifics may vary for each nursing assignment, potential options encompass transitioning to a part-time schedule, opting for per diem arrangements, or altering the overall working hours for full-time employees.
- Provide quiet spaces to relax – Seek out quiet areas that you can designate as a ‘relaxation space’ where team members can more easily unwind during their breaks. You can then add colorful pillows or soft lighting to add a touch of life to the space.
#6 Set Goals for Continued Self-Care Beyond the Week
When considering self-care, envision it as replenishing your emotional, spiritual, and physical cup—the vessel that fuels your daily vitality. A brimming cup empowers you to thrive in both your professional and personal pursuits. Conversely, when your cup isn’t filled, navigating daily activities can become more challenging.
Making self-care a priority for yourself and your team during Oncology Nursing Week is an admirable first step in ensuring you’re replenishing your cup. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that ensuring your well-being as a nurse goes beyond dedicating a single week each year. This principle holds true for self-care too. Remember, taking care of yourself is as vital as caring for others.
So, try integrating the aforementioned self-care strategies consistently throughout the year, no matter where you work.
In addition, here are some quick tips for incorporating self-care for yourself and your team all year long:
- Schedule regular well-being check-ins with your team
- Ask your nurse manager to detail which support services they offer, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and peer support programs
- Share self-care resources with your team, like articles and apps with fun tips and ideas
Discover a Travel Nursing Agency That Cares with Host Healthcare
It’s important to acknowledge and celebrate the role oncology nurses play in patient care, not just during Oncology Nursing Week but throughout the entire year. So, regardless of your current nursing assignment, make it a priority to regularly invest time in your self-care. That includes partnering with a travel nursing agency like Host Healthcare that actively provides the support you deserve at every stage of your career.
When you apply to work with Host Healthcare, you’re assigned a dedicated recruiter who will find you a position that meets your travel nursing goals and preferences. And, with exclusive access to thousands of healthcare jobs in every state, you can rest assured that you’ll land your ideal position at your dream destination.
Ready to take the first step? Apply today to start building the life and career that you deserve.
“Mindfulness Exercises.” Mayo Clinic. October 11, 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/mindfulness-exercises/art-20046356. Accessed January 01, 2024.