Complementary Therapies for Self-care

Posted on July 30, 2021, 4:04 p.m.

Complementary Therapies for Self-care


As I listened to the RNAO open forum for nurses to share their feelings during COVID, I was encouraged by how many nurses, nursing groups and healthcare institutions were concerned about the stress nurses were facing and used some form of Complementary Therapies (CT) from faith/spiritual based to mind/body practices for self-care and stress management.  While in holistic nursing practice the individual nurse has a responsibility for self-care, their workplace and government also have a responsibility for policies and resources to support the nurse’s health, safety and well-being. The RNAO has developed a number of good BPGs relating to creating healthy workplace environments for the nurse that can be viewed at

The Complementary Therapies Nurses’ Interest Group (CTNIG) has always promoted the use of CT as part of a holistic approach to nursing and healthcare as well as self-care and has offered a variety of ideas and resources in our newsletters and on our website.

We have included some resources here that may help you develop a self-care practice.

*** If you are in need of further support for mental health issues, please contact your healthcare provider or a therapist.


1.  RNAO-Complementary Therapies Nurses’ Interest Group

Exploring Self-Care

The CTNIG has initiated a wellness series called Exploring Self-Care on its website to create opportunities in the development of an individualized self-care program. 

This is done through awareness of a variety of self-care strategies, ideas and resources for stress reduction, health and well-being that can be utilized based on the nurse’s unique needs.

Additions are made on an ongoing basis.

2.  American Holistic Nurses Association  and it’s international chapter Canadian Holistic Nurses Association

Stress Management and Resilience Resources For Healthcare Workers - Some of the first publications specific to nurses in the COVID 19 response

Holistic Self-Care Strategies for Nurses - Tools for managing stress

3.  Be Your Own Healer: Self-Care with Therapeutic Touch 

Crystal Hawk, MEd, RT, QTT and Alison Cooke, BSA (Hon), Bed, RT

Therapeutic Touch (TT) for Self-Care programs in the book teach you how to use the techniques of TT for your own good health. You’ll learn about centering yourself, and clearing your field, and you’ll be reminded to rest after each treatment so that your field can remain in its new harmonious state. You can see all the exercises and listen to the imageries on YouTube 

*The self-care program was initially developed by Crystal at Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto 

4.  Health Journeys - Belleruth Naparsteck

Provide evidence-based self-help audio recordings of guided experience (such as imagery, meditation, relaxation, hypnosis, acupressure, yoga) that alleviate distress and assist with medical and mental health challenges. They have free offerings on You Tube

5.  TEND

Offer resources and training to address complex needs of high stress, trauma exposed workplaces to frontline workers, managers, supervisors and support staff in multiple formats.

Resources on their website include compassion fatigue, secondary trauma, vicarious trauma, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

6.  Sounds True

Created the largest living library of transformational teachings that support personal transformation and spiritual awakening through books, audio programs, online learning and in-person events. They have ongoing free offerings on website and on You Tube

7.  Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP)

ACEP has a global membership of over 1,200 licensed mental health professionals and allied health practitioners. 

ACEP members are dedicated to exploring, developing, researching and applying energy psychology methods to alleviate human suffering, enhance human performance and access human potential. ACEP is an approved provider of continuing education for psychologists, social workers, professional counselors, nurses, marriage and family therapists, and drug and alcohol counsellors. 

They provide Resources for Resilience free access to self-help techniques that can help you recover more quickly and easily from stressful events.

8.  DailyOM

Features a universal approach to holistic living for the mind, body, and spirit and supports people who want to live a conscious lifestyle. They offer a selection of courses, articles, tools, and resources all aimed at helping people improve their wellbeing.

9.  Lucia Thornton

Lucia Thornton is a former president of the American Holistic Nurses Association and has been involved in nursing, holistic healing and healthcare for over 40 years. She developed the model Whole Person Caring and has written and spoken at conferences world-wide on topics of self-care and self-healing practices, holistic and integrative nursing among others.

Her website includes articles, resources, videos and courses on holistic nursing and self-care. 

10.  Liberate Meditation App -  

A subscription-based meditation app that includes practices and talks designed for the Black community. Practices are led by meditation teachers representing BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) communities. The app is designed to support Black individuals on their path to healing by naming and offering resources for common cultural experiences, like internalized racism and micro-aggression.

11.  Natural Health Practitioners of Canada Holistic Health Guide 

Established in 1988, the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada (NHPC) is the largest holistic health association across Canada that offer a listing of holistic health practices with a history of the practice, a definition, a treatment section, and reasons to explore the practice.

Committed to raising public awareness of holistic health in the ever-changing landscape of health and wellness and promoting and improving the health of people through information about Complementary Therapies/Holistic Health Practices.

12.  M.T.O. Tamarkoz Association - The Art of Sufi meditation

The Tamarkoz®️ method is the art of self-knowledge through concentration and meditation. It dates back 1,400 years. The Tamarkoz App provides practices to reduce stress, relax, improve focus, sleep better, and gain a more positive perspective on life. 

They offer free meditation (Tamarkoz) and balancing (Movazeneh), daily live and recorded videos about 30 minutes long provided by psychologists, psychotherapists, and other Health Care Professionals in different time zones and available in multiple languages, free on facebook and Instagram. Tamarkoz App provides more enhanced meditation guidelines.  This initiative was developed and enhanced in 2020 in response to the increased need for stress management due to the Pandemic.

13.  Healthline - 30 Grounding Techniques to Quiet Distressing Thoughts

Healthline offers health and wellness information.

14.  Guide to finding Mindfulness programs

Talking to your health care provider about your mental health concerns is an important step towards feeling better. They can support you, provide help and guide your progress. If your next step is to learn about Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Programs and find a program, read this guide. The programs included here are all group programs. 

What are Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Programs?

MBSR programs work well for people who have stress from chronic physical and psychological conditions. These group programs teach practical skills to manage stress, including how to be calm in stressful situations.

MBCT combines mindfulness and cognitive behaviour therapy to help you change how you usually react to situations. Learning these new skills can help you better manage depression and anxiety.

The MBSR and MBCT programs involve doing homework and practicing skills in between sessions.

15.  Positive psychology:15 art therapy activities, exercises, and ideas for children and adults.

Art therapy is a blended field of therapeutic practice that combines art and psychology, utilizing the creative process, artistic techniques, and external artwork to support individuals to develop self-awareness, explore emotions, and address unresolved conflict or trauma.

3 free positive psychology downloads are available.


Development of Self-Care

Ideally, the selection of Complementary Therapies and other healthcare/lifestyle practices for self-care are framed within a holistic/integrative approach including a practice of self-reflection/exploration, self-awareness and self-compassion. 

Where to start? 

What if you were to...

1.  Make a commitment to regularly set aside some time for self-reflection. 

Be kind and compassionate towards yourself during the process, recognizing that imperfection is a part of the human experience and that you love and accept yourself as you are. 

2.  Begin the process by focusing your attention on your heart and connect to feelings of love and compassion. 

Acknowledge that you are a divine, sacred being. 

Set the intention that this process is for your highest and greatest good and those around you.

3.  Look at yourself through the lens of an observer during self-reflection. Practices of mindfulness, deep breathing, guided imagery, music/sound, art and journaling can help develop this ability. 

As an observer you may be more able to uncover patterns and habits, both healthy and unhealthy; and blocks such as resistance to change, attitudes and beliefs, and self-doubt without judgement.

4.  Assess your needs based on individual factors that include your personal attributes: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, economic, workplace and relationship components. Determine what things really matter to you (things to do) and things that distract and drain from that which really matters to you (things not to do).  

5.  Listen and see what comes up most intensely as you assess, to guide you where to start. Then start with small steps … 

It can be to sit down and eat mindfully when your hungry; appreciate the wind blowing through your hair, the sights and sounds of nature when on a walk; say no to that request to sit on another committee; increase your physical activity by taking the stairs instead of the elevator more often; listen to guided imagery/meditation. Honour your own needs.

6.  Start with a goal/self-care practice that is simple, achievable and sustainable based on your needs; knowledge of and skills in various self-care strategies; time and resources; and over time build on it.  

You may want to consider connecting with a CT practitioner (Therapeutic Touch, Healing Touch, chiropractic, aromatherapy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, holistic nutritionist), life coach, counsellor or healthcare professional to work with you to set and reach your goals. 

Then See What Happens!

Goals/practices may change over time as your needs change and as you continue to reflect, become more aware, and explore.

And remember ...

Each day is a gift, 

Change can bring challenges but also opportunities and growth, 

We all need help sometimes.

The information, facts and opinions provided here are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and does not necessarily reflect the views of or constitute endorsement by the RNAO-CTNIG or RNAO nor can the RNAO-CTNIG or RNAO be held responsible for errors or consequences arising from the use of information contained in this. Always consult your primary healthcare provider for any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and before undertaking a new diet or exercise plan.


Darka Neill RN (Non-Practising), BScN, RP, Reiki ll

RNAO-CTNIG Consulting Editor