Relaxing: An Undervalued Skill as a Nurse

Image copyright Tanya Parker

Taking the art of collage seriously.

I recently attended an art workshop at the Biggs Museum of American Art led by artist Melissa Sutherland Moss, whose work is currently on exhibit there. The award-winning artist shared her process and guided participants in creating collage art based on the themes of self-identify and reflection. With participant permission, the artwork was featured in an exhibit at the museum as a part of the Dover Citywide Black History Celebration in February.

This was not the same collaging I remembered from elementary school years. There was nothing “juvenile” about the process. In fact, the only thing that invoked nostalgia was the use of the materials (magazines, photos, and other resources) to bring my vision to fruition. My end product, shown above, was titled “Relaxation.”

A visual reflection on relaxation.

Nursing is a caring profession. We know well how to serve others (patients , families, colleagues, students), but often neglect to care for ourselves. There’s an underestimated strength in the ability to rest, “relax,” and recharge. Self-care is often an afterthought or a never-thought. It’s frequently downplayed and or dismissed. However, with self-care we are able to be a better version of ourselves and better caregivers. Relaxation can often feel like a luxury, but in fact it should be a necessity. Relaxation shouldn’t be just an expectation during vacation; it needs to be woven into everyday life.

I took stock of my relaxation efforts, and recognized that I have work to do. The artwork is a self-reminder of what represents relaxation to me and the tools needed to facilitate it. As I look at the finished artwork, I mentally commit myself to utilizing the tools suggested in the image, such as reading, meditation, making music, rest, and spending time in nature.

The whole experience was an introspective exercise in identifying what can help me gain and maintain mental health. I was inspired to continue collaging and have gone on to create another collage called “Relaxation 2.0”!

By Tanya Parker, DNP, RN, NPD-BC, NEA-BC

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