Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ - #healthynurse Spotlight Series - Heather Goss, BSN, RN
COVID-19 pandemic sparks a self-care flame for 53-year-old nurse
There’s power in prioritizing self-care and meaningful relationships. Those two priorities, along with a motivational mantra or two, are what keep 53-year-old nurse Heather Goss moving forward.
Heather grew up in a sports-oriented household. She was always playing sports and moving her body. As she got older, she found herself exercising less often until she met her highly athletic husband. He motivated her to get active, but the next decade followed a pattern of loving exercise, falling off the bandwagon, then loving exercise again. Rinse and repeat.
A Pandemic Changes Everything
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, something felt different. What once felt important didn’t seem to matter as much as good health and longevity. Heather had a change in perspective.
“I leaned into prioritizing myself,” says Heather. “That time of my life was like the perfect trifecta — there was a worldwide pandemic, I turned 50, and I became an empty nester. When the pandemic restrictions lifted, I knew that if I didn’t make myself a priority, no one else would.”
That’s when Heather decided it was time to take better care of herself — for good. In doing so, she could not only be around to watch her children start families of their own, but to also set a positive example for them. It was time to show them the value of taking care of yourself — mentally and physically.
For her physical health, Heather fell in love with an exercise boot camp class. While reluctant at first, she agreed to join the class with a group of friends. It didn’t take long before she was hooked. Heather now attends the 30-minute boot camp first thing in the morning, 3 to 4 times each week. With a mix of weight training and cardio, the workouts prove to Heather that she can do hard things.
In fact, “you can do hard things” is a mantra she learned from the boot camp trainer. Now, she repeats it to herself (and those closest to her) almost every day.
For her mental health, Heather prioritizes socialization and spending time with people who lift her up. She owns a lake house next to her cousin and his family, and she spends many weekends there. Heather also has monthly get-togethers with a group of friends she’s known for 35 years.
“There’s something so valuable about having old friends with shared memories,” says Heather. “Even if I don’t always feel like it, I know it’s so important to make time for friends.”
From Bedside to Desk-Side
Having worked as a bedside nurse for 16 years, Heather now works remotely as a Triage and Support Care Manager for Humana. Social interaction through video calls on her computer isn’t the same as in-person connection, but Heather bridges the gap by leading employee engagement for her small team.
She organizes virtual events like baby showers, graduation parties, icebreakers, team chats, and more. She creates employee spotlight presentations to showcase their interests outside of work, which helps coworkers get to know them better. Through all of this, her goal is to promote connectedness among the team, which is scattered across the country.
Part of accomplishing that goal is learning about her coworkers and understanding who shines in the spotlight and who prefers the background. She keeps different personalities in mind, noting that some people enjoy group participation and others avoid it. This thoroughness allows everyone to feel included in a way that works for them.
“At first I thought there was no way I could connect emotionally without seeing my coworkers face-to-face,” says Heather. “But there’s a great deal of connectedness happening in our calls, and I really value the relationships that I have.”
Breaking a Pattern of Procrastination
While Heather always had bouts of self-care and wellness throughout her life, her motivation would fizzle out. For her, something good came out of the pandemic: A shift in perspective that helped Heather ditch her procrastinating tendencies.
“The pandemic made me realize that it’s time to look at things in the here and now, and it gave me a new mindset,” says Heather. “If I find myself procrastinating, I tell myself, if not now, then when?”
Along with “you can do hard things,” these mantras anchor Heather and keep her focused on her goal of prioritizing self-care.
“I want to be active, to be able to travel, and to be able to get down on the floor and play with my future grandkids,” says Heather. “When I dig deep, I can make it happen.”
Heather Goss, BSN, RN, is a Triage and Support Care Manager for Humana.
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