Nurse Heal Thyself

(by Kim Seelbrede, originally posted on October 2010)

As snowflakes whispered against the backdrop of the mountains, student nurses from around the country gathered to participate in the 59th annual National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) convention held in Salt Lake City. Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT) sessions were offered to the student nurses in The Sanctuary, which was generously provided by Johnson & Johnson. This sublime healing space allowed many nurses to experience, for the first time, the exquisite healing modalities offered by the Urban Zen Integrative Therapists. Introducing nurses to the concept of self-care was our mission; powerful, moving and comforting were but a few of the words participants used to describe their restorative sessions.

Maintaining calm in the chaos was no easy feat as hundreds of nurses waited patiently for their sessions. Once inside the soothing environment, students were given permission to “let go and receive” the self-care techniques that are core to the foundation’s philosophy of treating the “whole person.” Weary, tense bodies softened into restful restorative yoga positions as they received Reiki, essential oil therapy and breath awareness techniques.  One student was overheard saying, “You’ve inspired me to take time for myself, to breathe and rest. I didn’t know how to do this.” Another participant softly told her therapist, “I feel blessed to have met you today.  I’m finally able to be ‘in’ my body.”  This speaks to the stress and burnout that over-worked nurses experience.  Many of these natural caretakers have never learned how to connect to their own needs.  Our valued nurses cannot provide care for others when they are depleted.

Nurses are “taught” to care for others and “told” to care for themselves. The Urban Zen Foundation has created a curriculum to “teach” them how.  Nurses are the frontline of healthcare, and for many reasons, the profession is in a crisis. We simply must reach, teach and address the unique needs of this vulnerable profession. We offer our gratitude to Johnson & Johnson and their Campaign for Nursing’s Future (link) for supporting and raising awareness.  To learn more about the Urban Zen Foundation’s commitment to nurses, click here to read about our presence at Kent State.