Who wouldn’t want to go to a nurse wellness retreat in a beautiful locale like Hawaii or the Caribbean?! Of course, for many of us, that isn’t a feasible option.
But you don’t need all the bells and whistles to have a rejuvenating respite from the stressors of your life as a nurse. All you need is a few designated hours, a great group of interested nurses and some ideas to get you started.
Explore stress-reduction activities and techniques together. The creation of your own nurse retreat can be the spark for a new movement for you and your colleagues.
1. Find a space
Your institution might have conference rooms available free of charge. But another, more comfortable option might be hosting the retreat in a nurse’s home. Have everyone bring his or her own lunch and snacks. As host, your contribution is providing a cozy space for self-care.
2. Open up with a get-to-know-you game
You work side by side every day, but getting together on a casual basis might make some feel a little more vulnerable. Write a few questions on slips of paper and toss into a bowl. Then draw one and go around the circle to answer it. Some suggestions: Favorite travel experience; What’s your dream vacation; Favorite book; If you could pick one year to live again, what year would it be … The possibilities are endless.
3. Invite a speaker
Do some digging on this one. Does anyone know anyone with some expertise on a topic that they’d like to share? Topics might include healthy work environments, bullying in the workplace, Reiki, yoga, aromatherapy or any area that relates to health and wellness. If you can’t find someone willing to speak without a fee, see if everyone can chip in a small amount to compensate the speaker.
4. Do a guided meditation
Many are intimidated by the prospect of meditating. But doing it as a group, and with a helpful guide, can make a great introduction. Try Deepak Chopra’s free, guided meditations. Who knows? The group might choose to do more than one.
5. Color mandalas
There’s nothing like coloring to remind you of being a kid. Mandala coloring is an in-expensive, simple relaxation intervention that can help alleviate stress build-up. Find free printable mandalas here. Provide crayons, markers or colored pencils, and have fun.
6. Lead an expressive writing intervention
Pass out blank paper and pens. Have everyone take a few moments to close their eyes and pinpoint a difficult professional time in their lives. It might be a sentinel event, a difficult family, an experience of nurse or physician bullying, or anything else that may have caused some distress. Set a timer for 15 to 20 minutes during which everyone writes about that experience. There are no rules, no judgments, just keep the pen moving. If any participant wants to share, encourage them to do so. But reassure the group that the sharing isn’t necessary or expected. The writing in and of itself can be a therapeutic experience. Encourage participants to continue at home for the next two days. Expressive writing can foster understanding of your own story.
7. Brainstorm some ideas for the next retreat
Now that you’ve had your first experience, it’s time to plan your next one! You might choose to have similar activities, or you may be interested in exploring some other areas.
Interested in having a nurse retreat? What would you add to the day’s activities?