Nurses Week 2019: 20 Activity Ideas to Celebrate Yourself & Your Colleagues
If you’re a nurse or have a nurse in your life, here are some great activity ideas to honor the nurses who spend their time caring for others.
Image via Unsplash.com/Brooke Lark
No matter what specialty you’re in, you know that a nurse’s work never stops. Day in and day out, you’re dedicated to saving the lives of patients and you take on unpredictable situations with grace. You go above and beyond for the patients in your care. You are a real-life superhero.
That’s why the American Nursing Association established National Nurses Week in 1990. For one week, hospitals, businesses, and your local community honor you and your peers for all your hard work and dedication to the medical profession. In 2019, the annual event starts on May 6 and wraps up on May 12. The final day of National Nurses Week commemorates the birth of Florence Nightingale, whom many attribute as a pioneer, visionary, and founder of modern nursing.
Whether you’re on-call or working a 12-hour shift, it’s time to practice a bit of self-care. Here are 20 fun and inexpensive activity ideas for celebrating yourself and your colleagues this nurses week.
10 Activity Ideas To Do With Your Colleagues During Nurses Week
- Pass out handwritten cards. You don’t have to spend a fortune or do something elaborate to make your colleagues feel special. A simple handwritten note or card with an appreciative message may be just the ticket to put a smile on their faces.
- Create a sweet snack. As nurses, you’re all literal lifesavers. So enjoy the word-play by picking up a roll or a bag of Lifesavers candies for each nurse on your team. Add a card that thanks them for being such a Lifesaver.
- Host a luncheon. You’re always on the go, so you need a good meal (and one that’s not cafeteria food) to keep yourself powered up. You all spend a good portion of your time at work, so see if your manager will treat the staff to a catered, in-house lunch from a restaurant of your choice. If not, host a potluck in which you all bring a favorite dish and learn a little about each other.
- Organize a nurses’ night out. Gather up as many of your peers as you can and meet up for dinner and a night of fun. This can also be done in groups so each nurse at your hospital or care facility has a chance to get in on the celebration.
- Design t-shirts for the group. Cheesy, maybe. Team spirit? You know it. Design a group T-shirt for your whole team to wear. Sites like Custom Ink offer free shipping on orders. Rush Order Tees offers 30 percent off your entire order with free eight-day delivery. You all should be proud of the work you do as nurses. Why not let the world know?
- Create a relaxation room. Dr. Elise Bialylew, founder of Mindful in May, found that practicing mindfulness meditation for 10 minutes a day (for one month) created more positive emotions, reduced stress, increased self-compassion, and strengthened focus. So find a spare room to encourage the staff to disconnect for their own personal health. Add cozy chairs, soothing lights, and a sound machine to drown out noise from the hall. And if there’s budget for it, invite a meditation teacher or masseuse in for a day or two.
- Recognize each other’s accomplishments. Come up with an award for each member of your nursing staff. Ideally, the recognition should be unique to their personalities, such as the award for “Most Creative Scrubs,” the “Floor’s Biggest Cheerleader,” and the “Calm During the Storm Award.” You can print them from a site like Canva, or go DIY with a box of crayons.
- Host a party for Flo. May 12 is Florence Nightingale’s birthday and creates a great reason to eat cake. If you want to get your “geek” on, try playing some nursing history trivia with your colleagues. All you need to do is Google “nursing history facts” and see how many you can all get right! Don’t forget your cardboard cutout of the founder of modern nursing herself.
- Bring a comfort dog to work. Studies have found that therapy dogs can help reduce stress. Find out if your hospital has therapy dogs on staff or is connected to any therapy dog organizations, and see if they can make a surprise round or two on your floor.
- Decorate your space. Liven up your workspace or floor with bright and cheerful decorations. Print out pictures of each nurse on your team and display them on a hospital bulletin board. Above the photos, write out a banner that says, “Superheroes Wear Scrubs.” This will remind you and your colleagues how important and appreciated they are.
- Bring in a guest speaker. As you know, learning never stops in your profession. Consider bringing in a well-respected industry professional to give a seminar, or talk about a topic you think your colleagues would find beneficial and/or inspiring. For example, if there’s a new technique that’s trending in nursing — such as nurse informatics, consider bringing in an expert who can teach you everything you need to know about it.
10 Ideas for Pampering Yourself During Nurses Week
- Treat your day off like an actual day off. When you actually have time to kick back and relax… do just that. Go ahead and binge-watch Netflix in bed, shop at your favorite stores, or head to the beach. Your chore list can wait; self-care can’t.
- Enjoy a meal on the house. In the past, Chipotle has offered buy-one-get-one-free meals for nurses. Typically, Cinnabon gives out free treats during National Nurses Week, too. A valid I.D., like an official hospital badge, is typically needed to claim these deals. As the week gets closer, we will be adding a list to this page of all the companies giving free food for nurses.
- Attend a conference. Get revved up about your job by expanding your educational and professional know-how. Find a nursing conference to attend in person or online. Check out the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s upcoming conference webcasts.
- Two words: Spa. Day. Being on your feet all day long is exhausting. Book a massage, mani-pedi, facial, or hair treatment to treat yourself.
- Learn a new skill. As a nurse, you never stop learning about your profession. In your free time, take a course in something that interests you outside of work. This could be a pottery class you’ve been dying to take, learning a new language, or a photography course. Do something that caters to your interests. It seems like such a small thing, but learning a new skill can feel invigorating.
- Spend time outdoors. Your work days are mostly spent inside, so it’s not often you get to venture outside and enjoy the fresh air. Studies have found that spending time outdoors, even for just 15 minutes, can reduce stress. So, instead of hanging out in the breakroom, step outside for a short walk or sit on a bench and zone out with a book or favorite podcast.
- Brag. There’s no shame in celebrating yourself on social media with a humble brag or two. Post a photo of yourself in scrubs with the hashtag #NationalNursesWeek and include an anecdote about your time as a nurse thus far. It’s heartwarming and self-affirming to share your hard work with friends, and it can be even more fun when they write messages of support back.
- Write a letter to yourself. Go ahead, no one else has to read it. Reflect back on all the wonderful people you’ve met in your career, the skills you’ve developed and honed, and — most importantly — the lives you’ve changed. Tell yourself how proud you are of you! You can turn this into a fun time capsule by sealing it up and leaving it someplace you’ll easily find later, such as in a desk or nightstand drawer. Then, the following Nurses Week, you can open it up, reread it, and see just how far you’ve come.
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