Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ - #healthynurse Spotlight Series - Sally Saez, RN, BSN, CCM, CDCES
Nurse lives a life guided by service.
Some people go through life searching for their purpose. Others clearly know what drives them, and that purpose serves as a beacon guiding their every move.
For #healthynurse Sally Saez, RN, BSN, CCM, CDCES, service to others is the common thread that runs through her life and guides her actions. It’s why she became a nurse and why she can’t imagine a life where she isn’t giving of herself in whatever way she can.
“My faith is very important to me,” Sally says. “I’ve always believed we are called to help others, but it’s also what really brings me joy.”
Embracing Opportunities for Service
Sally isn’t someone who volunteers her time occasionally — especially now that her children are adults and living out of the house. She’s always looking for new opportunities to help those around her.
Within her community, Sally is involved in:
Sally had been volunteering as a parish nurse at her church when she first heard about a diabetes education program being established as a community outreach. After working as the program coordinator, Sally became a certified diabetes care and education specialist (CDCES).
“I initially got involved because it was a community outreach program,” Sally says. “But then I realized how much I love diabetes education.” She’s helped people understand diabetes for 11 years, and it’s changed her life in many ways. Her knowledge of diabetes helped her evaluate her own lifestyle and adopt healthier habits for diet and exercise.
Through a local after-school program, Sally tutors a Hispanic child who doesn’t speak English as a first language. “These children are at risk because the only English they hear is from the teacher,” Sally says. “They fall behind in reading. This program teaches them and can help to improve their lives.”
Volunteering at a nursing home
Sally has enriched the lives of nursing home residents for almost 8 years, organizing bingo events, celebrating holidays, and helping with activities. “It’s a nursing home that’s mostly government funded, so many of the residents don’t have their families nearby,” she says. “They love when people like me come by and spend time.”
Finding Ways to Give at Work
Sally’s call to service permeates her time at work too. In addition to her full-time role at Humana, Sally volunteers as a “Well-being Champion” — an appointed advocate and representative for the wellness programs at Humana. She answers her coworkers’ questions about the company’s wellness resources and takes it upon herself to send a weekly wellness email to the 60 people on her team.
Sally’s been creating the “Wellness Wednesdays” email for the past 9 years. It includes tidbits ranging from healthy recipes to information on self-care topics like managing stress and reducing inflammation.
“People look forward to the emails because they’re not work-related. They just help them invest in themselves,” Sally says. “I’ve had folks who have been here for years but are just now taking advantage of our wellness programs. They’re doing that because I made it easier for them, and that makes me happy.”
Prioritizing Self to Be of Service to Others
Helping others brings Sally joy, but she has learned that she can’t give of herself if she doesn’t take care of herself first.
Sally relies on wellness practices that feed her body and mind to be the best version of herself when she helps others. “I’ve adopted a morning routine that works for me,” Sally says. “I get up crazy early at 4:30 am to accomplish the things that make me feel good. These practices are key to my mental and physical health.”
The activities and habits that rejuvenate Sally and help her find balance include:
- Enjoying nature: She spends time outdoors whenever possible and loves watching the birds that visit her many birdfeeders.
- Exercising: Hiking, biking, and running are essential to Sally’s mental health.
- Journaling: Expressing gratitude each morning grounds her before the day’s stress sets in.
- Prioritizing her health: Sally makes sure she gets enough sleep, water, and healthy food each day.
- Traveling: She and her husband cherish their trips to new places across the country.
Knowing Your Limits and Celebrating the Journey
Not all of Sally’s self-care practices add more to her plate. She also makes it a point to recognize and respect her limits.
“There was a time when I tried to juggle too many balls, and it wasn’t good for my mental health,” Sally says. “But now I know how much I can give. I don’t pack something into every day, and I’ve become good at saying ‘no’ when I need to.”
She also gives herself grace when the day doesn’t go as planned. “I try to remember that every day is a new day. If I make a bad choice about what to eat or don’t get to exercise like I wanted to, I don’t beat myself up,” she says. “The most important thing is that I don’t give up on the journey.”
Sally Saez, RN, BSN, CCM, CDCES is a STARS improvement clinical professional at Humana.
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