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Holistic Self-Care for Nurses

The World Health Organization says "self-care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health and prevent and deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing:

  • Hygiene (general and personal)self-care
  • Nutrition (type and quality of food eaten)
  • Lifestyle (sporting activities, leisure etc.)
  • Environmental factors (living conditions, social habits, etc.)
  • Socioeconomic factors (income level, cultural beliefs, etc.)
  • Self-medication”

(World Health Organization, 2016.)

Self-care includes holistic self-assessment, personal development and conscious empowerment as an assertive participant in life so we embody what we wish for our patients/clients: being healthy and enjoying life.

Also see Holistic Stress Management Tools

Self-Care Is a Core Value of Holistic Nursing

“Holistic nurses value themselves and mobilize the necessary resources to care for themselves. They endeavor to integrate self-awareness, self-care, self-healing, and self-responsibility into their lives by incorporating a variety of practices including: mind-body practices, biologically-based therapies, manipulative and body based methods, energy therapies, good nutrition and exercise, lifelong learning, and self-assessment.

In selecting approaches to self-care, holistic nurses honor the unique development of their own psychological-social-cultural self, intellectual self, spiritual self and body. Through continuing education, practice, and self-work, holistic nurses develop the skills of authentic and deep self-reflection and introspection needed to understand themselves and their journey. They recognize that this is a lifelong process.

Holistic nurses understand that in order to facilitate healing within others, they must undertake the process to become healed themselves and continue to work towards healing.

As holistic nurses strive to achieve harmony/balance in their own lives, they learn about healing from the inside and can identify their limitations and strengths. Experiencing the process of self-care, holistic nurses develop self-love and compassion for themselves, create healing environments, learn how to let go of self-destructive behaviors and attitudes, and practice centering and stress-reduction techniques.

These skills and insights not only help holistic nurses guide others on their healing journey, but also allow them to serve as role models to others (be they clients, colleagues or personal contacts), because of their experience in both achieving successful change and learning how to move forward after facing challenges. In addition, the self-care process helps holistic nurses effectively manage the physical and emotional stressors of the work and home environments and, thus, be more effective caregivers and healers.  

… Recent research on the effects of holistic self-care programs for nurses and nursing students demonstrates that such programs foster good health behaviors; resilience; improved nurse–patient communication, care, and satisfaction; and improved work environments, and may help sustain the nursing profession.” (Holistic Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, 2nd ed. (2013), Core Value 5, page 21.)

AHNA's Beginnings Magazine: Self-Care Issue

Proven Practices, Written by Nurses, to Help Nurses Find Balance

self care for nurses

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Caring Science Compassion Fatigue

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Stress Resiliency

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meditation emotional well-being


American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA), & American Nurses Association (ANA). (2013). Holistic nursing: Scope and standards of practice (2nd ed.) Silver Spring, MD:

American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA). (2016). Self-care: finding time and balance. Beginnings; (36)4.

American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA). (2015). Holistic nourishment for healing & resilience. Beginnings, (35)6, 21.

Bennett, M. (2015). It's about resilience. American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA). Beginnings, (35)6, 6-9, 26-27.

Rovinsky, P. (2015). Stress and resiliency: Challenges of 21st century living. American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA). Beginnings, (35)6, 18-20.

Rosa, W. (2014). Caring science and compassion fatigue: Reflective inventory for the individual processes of self- healing. American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA). Beginnings; 34(4), 18-20.

Schroeder, T. (2017). Meditation for emotional well-being. American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA). Beginnings; 37(3), 10-11.

World Health Organization, 2016.