9 Self-Care Apps for Nurses

The past few years have taken a particular toll on nurses and other healthcare providers. Between staff shortages and other pandemic-related challenges, many of us in the profession have found that there’s little time to take care of ourselves. 

Female doctor working at the hospital and using a smart phoneThat’s taking a toll on nurses’ mental health; a recent survey conducted by the American Nurses Foundation revealed the following: 

  • 34% of nurses rated their health as not, or not at all, emotionally healthy.
  • Most nurses surveyed said they have felt stressed (75%), frustrated (69%), and overwhelmed (62%).
  • Close to half (42%) of nurse respondents answered “yes” when asked if they have had an extremely stressful, disturbing, or traumatic experience due to COVID-19.

It’s clear that nurses’ emotional health often takes a backseat to other demands, but it’s tough to reclaim the time for self-care. 

Even if you just have a few minutes during a busy shift, you have some tools right in your pocket. These mobile apps offer a quick, convenient way for you to show yourself a little love. 

 

#1. Fifth Window

Available on iOS, Android

Cost: Free

Fifth Window’s mission is to provide helpful tools and resources specifically for nurses. By doing so, they strive to support nurse wellness and develop a platform that emphasizes a community filled with support and togetherness.

The Fifth Window app encourages and enables you to:

  •  Check in with yourself to see how you are feeling during your day.
  • Be matched with a quick calming or grounding practice.
  • Receive scheduled notifications to take mindful breaks.
  • Connect with other healthcare providers to share and learn new ways to care for ourselves.
  • Get daily self-care tips.

 

#2. Nursewell

Available on iOS

Cost: Free

Nursewell was explicitly created for nurses and midwives to promote and practice their self-care. The app was designed and developed in Australia by the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District by surveying practicing nurses and then targeting the most emphasized and pressing health issues. The app is broken down into several sections for improving sleep, thinking, mindful eating, and more. At the end of each section, app users can keep track of their progress, mark essential lessons learned, and more. The app also offers meditation and pilates exercises that nurses can use and do on their own time, in groups or individually, and help promote and create a self-care strategy of their choosing.

 

#3. Headspace

Available on iOS, Android

Cost: Free, but offers paid premium options

Headspace is one of the most popular and effective ways to destress, meditate, and improve your mental health. As one of the leading meditations and wellness apps, they have options for beginners to total enlightenment seekers. The app offers short, guided meditations, which are great for nursing students, new nurses, seasoned nurses, and travel nurses who may not have a "home base" to practice longer "om" sessions. 

Headspace is more than just a meditation app; they offer hundreds of personalized and themed sessions to help users manage stress and anxiety, boost morale, improve focus, and form better sleeping habits. These well-rounded options make it an excellent starting point for nurses looking to re-focus and re-center their focus, practice, and enhance their sense of self-care.

 

#4. Calm

Available on iOS, Android

Cost: Free, but offers a premium subscription

Calm promotes moments of serenity and meditation. This mindful app is one of the most popular apps across app stores for a reason- it works! You can try out the free version with free and premium options before purchasing a subscription. The app encourages users to find or create a peaceful environment, even just momentarily or whenever they can or need to. 

 

This app even has celebrity guest hosts from time to time, including Matthew McConaughey, Harry Styles, and Lebron James. Calm is an excellent choice if you are looking to add something simple and soothing to your daily routine, as it encourages you to take even just a moment of calmness during your day.



#5. Aloe Bud

Available on iOS

Cost: Free, but offers paid premium options

Aloe Bud markets itself as "your self-care pocket companion." While not explicitly created and developed for nurses, it offers many activities, information, exercises, and tips that can be extremely helpful and mindful for all types of people, including nurses. 

The app sends gentle reminders to its users to encourage them to incorporate self-care into their daily routine. This could come in the form of motivational content, dietary tips, breathing exercises, and even a journal feature. The journal feature explicitly encourages you to vent about any stressors you may be experiencing in your day, express any gratitudes or inspiring events that may be occurring, and even keep track of the self-care habits you have showcased. Overall, the app is meant to be a motivational and empowering tool to help you improve your self-care routine and boost your overall wellness.

 

#6. 7 Cups

 Available on iOS, Android

 Cost: Free, with premium subscriptions available

Have you ever felt like you just need a shoulder to cry on after a long day? Or need to vent? 7 Cups does just that! The app is a perfect fit for anyone who just wants to get their feelings and frustrations out–no appointments required and no strings attached. When you start with the free version of the app, you will be automatically connected to trained active listeners who will help you through any negative thoughts or issues or provide a listening ear. 

 

We want to clarify that 7 Cups is not therapy and does not replace a therapist; it is more like having a conversation with a friend over coffee. The listener on the other end of the line truly cares about you and your well-being and wants to help. A day in the life of a nurse is exhausting and stressful, and sometimes you just want to talk about it and relieve some of the stress of the day-7 Cups can help!

 

#7. Dare

Available on iOS, Android

Cost: Free, but offers paid premium options

 

While anxiety affects people of every age, profession, lifestyle, and more, it is no secret that it is common among nurses. Dare provides stress relief tips, tricks, and techniques targeted toward nurses who suffer from day-to-day anxiety.

The Dare app uses personalized challenges and techniques to encourage nurses to fight their anxiety, even when it feels impossible. The app is derived from and inspired by the book Dare by Barry McDonagh, which encourages people who struggle with anxiety to take back the control it has had within their lives. The Dare app has many features, including breathing exercises, worry, panic, insomnia, and anxiety aids. A unique feature the app offers is an "SOS" button for when an overwhelming sense of panic takes over – which can be fairly common for stressed nurses. 

 

#8. Reflectly

Available on iOS, Android

Cost: Free, but offers paid premium options

Reflectly is the world's first smart journal. It's pretty well known that journaling is a fantastic way to relieve stress and get frustrations out. In today's busy world, many people simply struggle to find the time to get out a pen and paper and physically write out their thoughts. However, rarely do people forget their cell phones. This app is an excellent option for nurses who want to express themselves creatively and their thoughts and feelings. 

 

The app removes any stress that people find in journaling and allows nurses to manage and track their ups and downs and daily moods. The app utilizes artificial intelligence to provide recommendations to users to boost their mental health and incorporate structure into their workday. Reflectly helps make journaling a seamless and less stressful experience.



#9. What's Up?

Available on iOS

Cost: Free

Many nurses are constantly searching for ways to support their mental health and minimize negative thinking. What's Up? Incorporates cognitive-behavioral therapy and acceptance-commitment therapy methods to eliminate negative thoughts before affecting mood and behavior.

What's Up? Users have said that the application is user-friendly and provides valuable strategies to minimize anxiety and negative thoughts (unlike apps that may just offer up an often unhelpful motivational quote). Nurses who struggle with anxiety and are constantly in high-pressure situations may find this application helpful and serene when they seek a moment of peace among the chaos of the job.

 

Additional INCA Self-Care Resources for Nurses and Nurse Coaches

 

How to Embrace Self-Care as Soul Care (Podcast)

Lindsay Johnson, MSN, RN, NC-BC, discusses how embracing self-care as soul-care can shift the way you care for yourself without caring about yourself, and this is very important in times when one feels self-critical or in self-doubt.  Caring for yourself without caring about yourself oftentimes allows self-love. Listen Now>

 

Cultivating Resiliency, Stillness, and Calm (Video Series)

Hosted by Monique Class, MS, APRN, BC, this series of six videos offers tools and strategies for finding resilience, stillness, and calm in times of turmoil.  Watch now>

 

Battling Burnout with Nurse Coaching (Downloadable PDF)

As a nurse, do you wonder, “Why am I here? This isn’t what I expected.” Do you think, “I am a nurse because I want to help; I love connecting with people, listening, and being part of their healing; so why do I feel disconnected from my deepest desires?” You are not alone. This is the story of how two burned-out critical care nurses –living miles apart in different states – connected to share a similar healing journey to become nurse coaches. By embodying self-compassion and the framework of nurse coaching, they reunited with their passion for nursing and themselves as a whole and unique nurses and human beings. Read now>

I am a 2021 graduate from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with minors in Sociology and Childhood Studies. Outside of my work as a writer, I love to travel! I would say that my greatest adventure so far has been backpacking through Italy and Greece in July 2021 with my best friend. I love writing (not just for work) but specifically, music and poetry, playing piano and guitar, and I love being a homebody at times, binging tv shows with my cats.

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