The Self-Centered Nurse: Creating a Healthcare Community Centered Around Mindfulness & Self-Care

Written by: Shannon Parrish, BSN, RNC-NIC

Assessment of Nurse Wellness & Unit Culture

After working as a NICU nurse for the last 10 years, I noticed a jarring shift in my unit’s culture. We were struggling to retain new staff, and hiring at an alarming rate. Since Covid, we lost a significant number of our senior nurses to retirement and career changes, as well as some of our younger staff to NP school and travel nursing.

Morale on the unit was at an all-time low, and my peers were showing all the signs of burn-out.

In my talks with other nurses, I found that most were struggling with mental and physical health. Drinking, binge watching TV, emotional eating, compulsive shopping, and other risky, unhealthy behaviors have been normalized as coping mechanisms and even “self-care”.

I also noticed the same unhealthy shift on social media. Nursing went from being a revered profession to being the butt of jokes about stress, burn-out, and disrespect.

It’s easier to find accounts encouraging nurses to leave the bedside, than one that coaches nurses on ways to nurture their wellbeing. We need to learn how to take care of ourselves, so we can continue to thrive at the bedside.

As someone who is passionate about my nursing career, it hurts me deeply.

My Self-Centered Care Plan

In the last few years, I have struggled personally with anxiety, depression, and insomnia. As a new mother of twins, I desperately tried to balance work, family, and health.

At the start of 2023, I set the goal of prioritizing my mental and physical health. I aimed to be more present and purposeful in both personal and professional life.

I began daily meditation, bullet journaling, and gratitude practice. I created a self-care and bedtime routine that served my physical, mental, and emotional needs. And over the next several months, my life changed drastically.

I was finally sleeping and feeling rested. I had energy to enjoy (and keep up with) my toddlers. I had a newfound confidence, and passion that I didn’t even realize I had within me. I felt happy and fulfilled at work. Soon, I found myself searching for new opportunities for growth and involvement on my unit.

I got promoted to a leadership position, and with my new responsibility and influence, I decided that I would do everything I could to make my unit a happier, healthier place to work. A place that would support and nurture its nurses from orientation on.


Your Most Important Patient – YOU

I didn’t want to stop at improving work-life balance and wellness in the workplace. I wanted to create a community that is Nursing positive.

A community that respects nurses as the humans they are.

A community that focuses on personal health, wellness, mindfulness, and growth.

This year, I was certified as a Mindfulness-Informed Practitioner. With this, and over a year of personal mindfulness practice, I felt ready to pass on what I learned to help others become the best version of themselves.

I have provided new-grad nurses on my unit with a work-life wellness class in which I discuss self-care practices and mindfulness as it relates to their transition to their new nursing career. On my Instagram, @The.SelfCentered.Nurse, I share tools, meditations, affirmations, and gratitude practice guides as well as a nursing self-care journal to help my nurse peers (and the nursing community as a whole) to prioritize their most important patient, themselves.

I encourage you to join me in providing yourself with the self-centered care you deserve.

About Shannon

Shannon is a Neonatal ICU Lead Clinical Nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

She “grew up” there – starting as a Clinical Nurse Extern, and worked her way up the clinical ladder over the last 11 years. Shannon is passionate about bedside nursing, health, wellness, and mindfulness. In the last two years, she has served as co-chair of her unit’s Welcoming Committee – for which she implemented a Nurse Mentorship Program, as well as a work-life-wellness class for new-grad orientation. She is currently working towards a certification in Nursing Professional Development.

When Shannon isn’t taking care of babies in the NICU, she is a wife and mother of two identical twin boys. Her journey into motherhood inspired her to improve mental health and wellness for her nursing peers. Experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, complicated delivery, and NICU stay was an eye-opening experience.

She is grateful for the health of her family and has made it her mission to put herself first, so that she can continue to love and care for her family for many years to come. It’s okay and healthy to be self-centered sometimes!

For mindfulness tools, education, affirmations, and gratitude practice, connect with her at @the.selfcentered.nurse on Instagram.

Download the Self-Centered Nurse journal on Etsy –

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