Katie Carroll, BSN, RN, CHC, CPT
Nurse and wellness advocate prioritizes her own well-being so she can help others
Living a healthy lifestyle comes easy when you’re passionate about it. That’s the case for #healthynurse Katie Carroll.
Not only is Katie a staff nurse at Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health, she’s also a wellness advocate, certified personal trainer, and public speaker.
“My passion is speaking to health care professionals about self-care, burnout, and stress in the workplace,” says Katie. “I coach high-achieving women who want to squeeze more out of this life and learn how to fill up their cups.”
But before she can help others, she’s got to help herself. That’s why Katie prioritizes her own wellness through the three pillars of physical activity, nutrition, and meditation.
An Effort to Stay Active
In March 2015, Katie graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as a Certified Health Coach. Soon after, she earned her personal training certification. Her ambition for pursuing these certifications wasn’t to turn them into a career, but to educate herself for her own well-being.
Katie has always lived an active lifestyle by exercising and playing sports in school. When her brother opened a gym, she was inspired even more to work out regularly. Her go-to activity is hot yoga, and she also loves a good sweat session through high-intensity-interval training (HIIT).
“Yoga helps me so much with anxiety and stress,” says Katie. “I’ve even found myself doing my yogic breathing during challenging work situations. What I learn from yoga, I take with me and use in everyday life.”
A Good Handle on Nutrition
Katie also knows how important it is to eat nutritious foods. She spends time meal prepping every week so she can bring meals to work instead of relying on vending machines or cafeteria food. She packs healthy snacks, too — her favorites are nuts, yogurt, cheese sticks, and trail mix.
For a well-rounded diet, Katie eats plenty of:
- Green beans
- Sweet potatoes
- Protein shakes
But just because Katie eats plenty of nutritious foods doesn’t mean she never indulges. She loves chocolate and allows herself to have some in moderation.
Meditation for Mental Health
The third pillar of Katie’s healthy lifestyle is meditation, which she does daily. Every morning when she wakes up, she starts her day with a 5-minute meditation. Usually she reads a 1-page meditation in a book.
“This daily habit helps me to get my mind right before my day gets busy,” says Katie. “I’m waking up and pouring into my own cup before pouring into others’ cups.”
Putting this focus on her mental health has also helped Katie learn to create boundaries for herself. Instead of saying “yes” to everything, Katie allows herself to bow out when necessary. She gives herself the grace and permission to stick to her boundaries and not feel guilty about saying no.
“I’m always taking care of everyone else, and in the past, I’ve forgotten to take care of myself,” says Katie. “This led to burnout and depression — and I’m not going to let that happen again. I’m going to focus on my own well-being so I’m good for my patients, coworkers, husband, and family.”
All nurses deserve to pour into their own cups before filling others’. In fact, it’s essential. If you need some motivation to prioritize self-care, consider Katie’s words of wisdom:
- Connect with other nurses: The Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nationä (HNHN) Facebook group is full of people going through similar things like shift work, challenging patient situations, etc. It’s a great place to find support and connect with other nurses. (Editor’s note: Katie is a very popular and frequent poster in this group!)
- Just because you do it all doesn’t mean you have to do it all: As nurses, we do a lot of multi-tasking. We often forget when to take off our nursing hat. Remember that it’s OK to do less or ask for help.
- Follow the ABCs of burnout: Assess your life frequently, set boundaries, and call for help. You’ll get where you’re going faster.
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