Sandra Foley, DNP, RN

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Nurse faculty member prioritizes positivity in her health routine with jogging, a triathlon, and…laughter yoga!

For Sandra (Sandy) Foley, living an active lifestyle comes naturally. It’s ingrained into her routine, and it has been for as long as she can remember.

Going back to her early 20s, Sandy has been a runner. One of her favorite activities is to get outside for some fresh air and go for a walk/jog. She knows it benefits her physical health, but her motivation to do it comes more from the mental side of things. She’s also always enjoyed working out at her local gym.

“I’m not a fast runner, but I jog, and when I do, I can just go, go, go,” said Sandy. “It makes me feel so much better mentally.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more challenging to feel motivated to exercise, she hasn’t let it stop her. Instead of going to the gym, Sandy takes greater advantage of the outdoors, especially on days when the sun shines. She goes for hikes, bikes, and walks/jogs.

An Active Support System
Sandy credits not just her active young adult years but also the people around her for keeping her physically active. Her husband and sons both do some form of exercise regularly — whether biking, running, or weightlifting — and Sandy wants to keep up.

“When my husband goes out for a bike ride, I feel guilty if I don’t go out, too,” said Sandy. “That drives me and makes me want to go outside, get the fresh air, and have a good sweat.”

Sandy’s motivation reached new levels when she decided to compete in the 2020 Jersey Girl Triathlon with some friends. It included a 300-yard swim, 11-mile bike ride, and 3-mile run.

“It was such a feel-good triathlon,” said Sandy. “It’s only women and it’s low pressure — you’re just there to have fun and do your best.”

Healthy All Around
In addition to physical activity, Sandy prioritizes a healthy diet. She limits fats and sugars, and is beginning to try new foods like tofu.

“It’s been more difficult with COVID and the inability to work out at the gym, but I really try to make sure to eat well,” said Sandy.

While Sandy turns to exercise for the mental health benefits, she also turns to other outlets like laughter yoga. In fact, she studied laughter yoga for her thesis project while earning a doctoral degree. In the process, she led many virtual laughter yoga sessions with other nurses. Her thesis included a small sample size of nurse interviews to gauge the effect of laughter yoga. The majority of respondents confirmed that laughter yoga helped reduce their stress levels.

Sandy takes that laughter and cheerfulness with her outside of those virtual sessions.

“Wherever I go, I try to remain upbeat and have a positive attitude,” said Sandy. “I feel my presence is positive and that I bring hope to other people around me.”

Sandy’s Advice
Both mental and physical health are important to Sandy, and the benefits motivate her to keep living a healthy lifestyle. Here’s what Sandy hopes for other nurses:
  • Find your troop: Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, you need to surround yourself with people who will inspire you. Find support who will back you up in a time of need and help you toward your goals.
  • Remain grateful: Start your day with a positive, hopeful, and grateful attitude. Sandy gets up every day and says “I am blessed, I will be a blessing to someone, and I am thankful.” That’s what gets her through the rough days.
  • Keep some normalcy in your life: With the ups and downs of this pandemic, it’s important to keep some component of your life as normal as possible. That will give you a sense of hope.

Sandra Foley, DNP, RN, is a member of the nursing faculty at William Paterson University.

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Posted by Holly E Carpenter, RN, BSN on Jan 5, 2021 10:56 AM America/Chicago

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