26 Healthy Habits HCA Healthcare-Affiliated Nurses Live By

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Closeup of nurse holding hands with a patient

Nurses are called to care. Helping others is part of our very nature, and we take pride in the care we provide our families, in our communities and to the millions of patients we serve every day.

From my years of experience, one thing I know to be true is: the best way to take care of others is to take care of yourself first. As caregivers on the frontlines of healthcare, it’s important that we, as nurses, lead by example for the people we are privileged to serve.

As part of our celebration of National Nurses Week, and this year’s American Nursing Association theme – Nursing: the Balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit – HCA Healthcare-affiliated nurses across the country, including me, chimed in on the habits that keep them happy, healthy and whole.

Read on for some great nursing advice to live well and kick-start a healthy, new you!

What is your best life tip?

“Help others. There is a plethora of reasons why this is a must…

  • Helping people has a ripple effect. If you help someone, they will feel more obliged to help someone else.
  • You grow by giving and helping others. It can change you in ways you never expected.
  • Your relationship with that person will become stronger.
  • It’s the most fulfilling thing you can do on this planet.
  • Karma.”

– Jill Goodman, registered nurse and director of critical care, Southern Hills Hospital in Las Vegas

“Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be.”
– Paige Womack, certified nursing assistant, Parkridge Medical Center in Chattanooga, Tenn.

“An attitude of gratitude and self-care! If you fill your cup, you have more to give your patients, co-workers and family.”
– Dana Schroeder, registered nurse, educator surgical weight loss program at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, Cali

“Never fail to see an opportunity to pour yourself into someone else’s life. The person in front of you is there for a reason, either to lift them up or to encourage them.”
– Kem Macabuhay, registered nurse, pre-op/post-anesthesia care unit, Medical City Alliance in Fort Worth, Texas

How do you beat burnout?

“Every day as I leave work and take the long walk to my car, I think of all the positive interactions I had throughout the day. I have done this for 40 years, so it works.”
– Ana Drexler, registered nurse, director service excellence, Portsmouth Regional Hospital in New Hampshire

“I take a vacation and make time for myself.”
– Ashely Burch, registered nurse, Fairview Park Hospital in Dublin, Ga.

“I walk my dogs, go see a movie, and get a massage.”
– Cheryl Tillman, registered nurse, inpatient rehabilitation at TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

“Pace yourself.”
– Abby Valbuena, registered nurse, manager medical-surgical telemetry at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, Cali.

How do you boost your emotional health?

“Spending time outside in the fresh air does amazing things for the soul. I enjoy being outside in the sun and taking neighborhood walks.”
– Kellie Jakobeit, registered nurse, Physicians Services Group, Austin Heart La Grange, in La Grange, Texas

“Be sure to make quality time with your family. We spend so much of our time with our working family and helping others, the best way to help ourselves is to take stock in the people that give us the strength to do what we do and love us for it.”
– James Dismer, registered nurse, Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria, La.

What’s a healthy habit you live by?

“Eat well, sleep long, be grateful.”
– Ana Drexler, registered nurse, director service excellence, Portsmouth Regional Hospital in New Hampshire

“I have adopted some little things in my daily routine to try to sneak in some health habits without really noticing it, like: drinking a full glass of water first thing in the morning and with every meal, parking at the far end of the parking lot, and taking the stairs when going one or two flights either way.”
– Chief Nursing Executive Jane Englebright, HCA Healthcare headquarters in Nashville, Tenn.

“A healthy habit I live by is to ALWAYS get seven to eight hours of sleep each night, regardless of what is going on in my life. No matter how long of a day I have had, I always feel refreshed every morning because I get adequate sleep.”
– Tara Ghisalberti, registered nurse, medical/surgical and ICU director at Lafayette Regional Health Center in Lexington, Missouri

“I have incorporated drinking water daily. I bought a 48-ounce water bottle and keep it in front of me at work. No matter how busy I am nursing, I make a conscious effort to drink water whenever I am charting or even glancing at orders on my computer screen. Whenever I am drinking my water, I am at least not drinking the soda that I tend to crave.”
– Margaret Boatright, registered nurse, Fairview Park Hospital in Dublin, Ga.

How do you get energy?

“Smile, walk, and a protein drink around 3 p.m. every day.”
– Dana Schroeder, registered nurse, educator surgical weight loss program at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, Cali.

How do you stay motivated to exercise?

“My job keeps me motivated. By working in the ER and caring for people who are sick and ailing, it’s very motivating for me to keep myself and my family healthy with clean food choices and exercise.”
– Kristin Cooper, registered nurse, emergency room at TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital in Bowling Green, Ky.

“Work out with friends as much as possible. Set a time to meet at the gym so you feel more obligated to go. Listen to a great playlist to get you pumped up and able to push through tough workouts. Buy fun work-out clothes as a treat. Have your labs and hormone levels drawn regularly and fix any imbalances that would make you tired or unmotivated.”
– Angela Junker, registered nurse, labor and delivery, Medical City Alliance in Fort Worth, Texas 

“Motivation is fun. It will get you in the door, but it won’t get the job done.  What you’re really looking for is discipline. That’s the hard part. To win the battle of the body, you must first win the battle of the mind. Get your mind right, and in time, the body will follow. This isn’t to say you can trick yourself into the right mindset. In fact, the trick is there is no trick. You must be willing to be brutally, hard-core, radically honest with yourself, and accept no excuse. You can have results, or you can have excuses, but you cannot have both. You must maintain and nurture discipline. You will suffer pain, either pain of discipline or pain of disappointment. Forget rewards; they’ll come in their own time. Do it for its own sake. Do it because it’s right. Do it because it’s good for you. Do it because no one else can do it for you.”
– Michael Sanders, registered nurse, Parkridge Valley Adult & Senior Campus in Chattanooga, Tenn.

“Join a regularly scheduled class so that a routine is formed. On the days that I do not feel like going I tell myself to “just show up”. This helps me get out the door. When I enter the gym environment, the rest follows. You’re still doing more than you were on the couch. JUST SHOW UP!”
– Devan Peek, registered nurse, Parkridge Medical Center in Chattanooga, Tenn.

How do you fight off a cold?

“First of all, wash your hands like a maniac. Don’t touch anything in public you don’t have to: use your elbow to push elevator buttons and your forearms to push open doors, and cover your hands with your sleeves to open doors.”
– Angela Junker, registered nurse, labor and delivery, Medical City Alliance in Fort Worth, Texas

“Sleep, Vitamin C, and sleep!”
– Amber Craig, clinical nurse supervisor, emergency department, West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell, Idaho

How do you curb a sweet tooth?

“I make a nut mix with almonds, dark chocolate, and coconut pieces! A much better option than a candy bar.”
– Jacquilyn Baldwin, registered nurse, Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver, Colo.

“When I run to my secret stash of chocolate before I even unwrap a piece I ask myself, ‘why?’ If it’s a reward then great, but if I’m unwrapping while I’m angry, stressed or even sad, I try and take a walk and assess my feelings instead of trying to feed them.”
– Renee DeHaas, registered nurse, risk management and clinical quality coordinator, West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell, Idaho

How do you manage stress?

“I have a wonderful group of girlfriends who are nurses that I have known for 20-plus years. Although we now work in different areas of nursing, we get together for breakfast about every two months.  It is so nice to share our joys, concerns, questions of aging, or just spend time catching up and laughing.”
– Robin Surrattt, charge registered nurse, Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver, Colo.

“Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense – Ralph Waldo Emerson”
– Katherine S. Comeaux, registered nurse, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) director, Women’s & Children’s Hospital in Lafayette, La.

What do you do for a good night’s rest?

“I have a spa radio station on Pandora and a lavender neck wrap that I heat in the microwave for about two minutes, then wrap around my neck and shoulders. I lay in a comfortable position and focus on the music and my breathing.”
– Sara Miller, registered nurse, labor and delivery, Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver, Colo.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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