Linda Roney, EdD, RN-BC, CPEN, CNE

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Lifestyle shift becomes new wellness motivator for nurse educator

Shifting from a bedside nursing job to an administrative role, being a nurse educator comes with many challenges. For Linda Roney, one of those challenges was maintaining her own wellness.

As a bedside nurse, Linda easily walked 3–4 miles per day during her shifts. But becoming an assistant professor and undergraduate nursing program director meant more time sitting and less time being active.

Instead of accepting the change and letting it negatively impact her health, Linda found opportunities to counter it.

“I had to figure out new ways to integrate healthy changes into my life,” said Linda.

Step one was changing her mindset. It wasn’t feasible to fit in a 45-minute workout every day. But she could sprinkle smaller workouts throughout her day, like a 15-minute ride on her exercise bike in the morning and a 15-minute session at the university gym in the afternoon. She learned to be less rigid in terms of how and when she was exercising.

Staying Motivated
Working out multiple times a day in smaller chunks meant more temptation to skip a session. How did she stay motivated?

“I became hardwired to work out,” she said. “I’d lay out my gym clothes next to the bed the night before. I’d also pack a bag with my work clothes, and promised myself I wasn’t going to shower at the gym without working out first.”

Another motivator: her nursing students.

Some faculty members avoid the campus gym because they don’t want to run into students while working out. But Linda feels the opposite. She knows when they see their instructor exercising, she’s setting a good example for what a healthy lifestyle as a nurse looks like.

“It’s important for them to see that even though being a nurse is stressful, and being an adult is stressful, you can still make healthy choices,” said Linda.

Promoting a Healthy Work Environment
Linda also makes it a priority to create healthy opportunities for those around her — especially at work. After she became the undergraduate nursing program director 18 months ago, Linda started hearing recurrent themes around campus:
  • Students and faculty were stressed and anxious
  • Nurses weren’t making enough time for self-care

Linda developed a task force to lessen some of those burdens. The task force worked together to bring health and wellness initiatives to the nursing school by:
  • Collaborating with other disciplines such as public health, social work, and nutrition
  • Developing a holistic nurses retreat with meditation, healthy eating, and self-care education
  • Providing a laughter yoga session

She continues to prioritize new ways to promote health and wellness among her students and colleagues.

“I’m just trying to pick away at a culture where people are highly sedentary, and make those around me more mindful of the little things we can do,” said Linda.

Linda’s Advice
Linda knows the health and wellness challenges faced by nurses, nursing students, and nurse educators. Her advice:
  • Health and wellness don’t have to be all or nothing. Little changes, consistently over time, are just as good as big changes.
  • You are not alone. We’re all struggling to keep health at the forefront.
  • You’re important and you’re worth it. You give so much to other people, but it’s important to take care of yourself.
  • If you haven’t already, find an online community. There are so many nurse wellness groups on social media. It’s fun and motivating to meet other nurses from around the country who are dealing with the same things you are.

Linda Roney, EdD, RN-BC, CPEN, CNE, is an Assistant Professor and Undergraduate Nursing Program Director at the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies at Fairfield University.

Are you a #healthynurse? Share your stories with us in our discussion.
 
Posted by Holly E Carpenter, RN, BSN on Mar 24, 2020 2:54 PM America/Chicago

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