Moffitt's coloring wall helps support nurses' mental health: 'Our water cooler'

Being a nurse means being dedicated and compassionate, but there's a lot of stress with the job too – making burn out a big concern. That's why nurses at Moffitt Cancer Center did something colorful to support their mental health. 

It's a simple act of art: pencils to paper.  

There's something soothing about coloring. It's so calming and relaxing that Moffitt nurses created a coloring wall. 

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"You know, 1970s had the water coolers nearby, met at the water cooler," said Kimberly Willoughby, a registered nurse at Moffitt. "This is our water cooler."

It's a meeting place where the staff can find relief from job stress.  

"It gives me that time to really regroup and just take a minute to myself and then come back and be able to accomplish everything that I need to do," said Kelly Dunham, a Moffitt registered nurse said. 

"Often times as nurses, we pour so much into others that we forget to take care of ourselves," said Emery Bergey, a clinical nurse specialist.

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Registered nurses at Moffitt came together and started the wall to support their mental health. 

"We can all stand back here together, do the mindfulness talk at the coloring board and just work together as a team has made us all come closer together," said Kristen Fowler, a registered nurse at Moffitt. "By meeting back here and practicing mindfulness." 

The project is called "Take 5: A Mindfulness Initiative to Reduce RN Burnout."  

"Having the opportunity to take five minutes and just relax and recharge, so that their cup is full, and they can come back and give the best care to our patients," said Bergey. "That's the most important thing." 

It takes concentration to stay in between the lines. 

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"When we're focused on coloring one specific component of this poster. We're in the moment, we're present and our mind is completely focused on doing what we need to do, just to relieve our stress," Bergey explained. 

The mental medicine has a positive impact, creating a supportive work environment.  

"Besides the nurses here in the clinic, even housekeeping comes by," said Fowler. "Different nurses from different departments come by. Even some of the doctors, they come back here." 

"Whatever just happened that maybe pushed me over the edge or made me cry or made me whatever, and I can come here and forget that moment and then just kind of get entwined in this," said Willoughby. "And then, I can go back to what I was doing." 

Sometimes taking a moment to color can be the best medicine of all. The project was started in 2022 and the hospital has about three coloring walls in the hospital, and they hope to have more in the future.


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