ANA Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation® - #healthynurse Spotlight Series - Latanya (Tanya) Collins, MSN-Ed, RN 4738

ANA Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation® - #healthynurse Spotlight Series - Latanya (Tanya) Collins, MSN-Ed, RN

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Stressful pandemic prompts one nurse to make more conscious wellness choices.

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The most stressful times in our lives can sometimes bring positive change we never saw coming.

That’s what happened to 46-year-old Latanya (Tanya) Collins, MSN-Ed, RN, Humana Clinical Policy Nurse. Only 4 years ago, she was going through a divorce, working as a nurse during a pandemic, dealing with family illnesses, and finishing graduate school. All this was happening while she was also helping her 2 kids get through virtual school.

This peak of stress forced Tanya to take a long, hard look at her wellness. She couldn’t continue down this same path.

“I was letting myself deteriorate, and it was taking a toll on me in every aspect of my life,” says Tanya. “I was pulled in so many directions that it was difficult to focus and sleep. I felt like I was floating through life surviving, rather than truly living and setting clear goals. It was not sustainable, and I realized I had to make some changes in my life for my own well-being.”

The changes began with a daily check-in. She asked herself: How am I doing? What can I do today to improve my physical, emotional, and mental well-being?

A Shift in Mindset for Better Health
Tanya knew she couldn’t control what was happening with the pandemic, her stepfather’s pancreatic cancer, or some parts of her divorce. She couldn’t control that her teenage children were stuck at home doing virtual school. What Tanya could control was her mindset and how she handled stress. That’s when she decided to incorporate mindfulness into her routine.

“We get stuck thinking self-care only includes things like spa days, but it’s not just that,” explains Tanya. “It’s also about building yourself up mentally and emotionally.”

Every day, Tanya spent a few minutes on mindfulness, self-reflection, and journaling. She loved how these activities made her feel, so she took it a step further and dipped her toes into yoga. That brought her to meditation, which helped her overcome the desire to control the uncontrollable.

“I always do nighttime meditation to clear my mind,” says Tanya. “I was most stressed when trying to sleep, with so many thoughts swirling around in my head. But meditation helps with that.”

Ramping Up the Physical Wellness
Aligning well with mindfulness is Tanya’s preference to get outside and move. Exploring her town with daily walks is a personal favorite way to exercise. And when the weather doesn’t cooperate, Tanya turns to beloved activities like yoga, indoor cycling, or working out at the gym with her daughter. It doesn’t matter what the activity is as long as she’s moving.

“Exercise isn’t cookie-cutter, and I love trying new things,” says Tanya. “But whatever I’m doing, I make sure I’m moving every day.”

Nutrition plays a role in Tanya’s self-care routine, too. She’s been eating a vegetarian diet since age 17 and focuses on eating foods that make her feel good. Combined with physical activity and drinking more water, this healthy focus helped Tanya lose 30 pounds.

She adds that she asks herself one key question in all areas of her life: Is it going to suck my energy or give me energy?

“I’ve reached a point where I need to think about this every day,” adds Tanya.

Overcoming Life’s Hurdles With Self-Care
Today looks a bit different for Tanya compared to 4 years ago. The COVID-19 pandemic is behind her. She has completed graduate school and earned her master’s degree. She no longer works as a bedside nurse and has moved on to a clinical policy role. While Tanya has cleared these hurdles, new ones have popped up. The tricky part of her life today is balancing her self-care with everything else. She knows her well-being is (and always will be) a priority, and her 2 daughters pay close attention to how she takes care of herself.

“Females in our society are made to feel that taking time for ourselves, or saying ‘no’ to things, is mean or uncaring,” says Tanya. “But it’s not. Those are the boundaries I find hard to overcome.”

When in doubt, Tanya leans on the mindfulness and meditation practices she’s learned over the years. Having the right mindset when it comes to wellness is half the battle. It’s a crucial component to making self-care a habit.

“You’re going to have bad days, and that’s OK,” adds Tanya. “Just don’t stay in that place too long. Lean into mindfulness to examine your current challenges and learn to deal with them.”

With practice and perseverance, Tanya came out on the other side of a stressful time. She is stronger, healthier, and has more clarity than ever before.

“Looking back, even though 2020 was one of the hardest years, it was also one of the most gratifying years,” says Tanya. “It gave me the confidence to believe that I can do hard things.”

And she believes that the first step is to commit to healthier changes.

“I encourage all nurses to be as dedicated to their own self-care as they are to delivering care to others,” says Tanya. “As nurses, we should hold ourselves to the same standards that we set for the people we serve professionally.”

Tanya Collins, MSN-Ed, RN, is a Senior Clinical Policy Researcher for Humana.

Are you a #healthynurse? Share your stories of transformative health care with us in our discussion.
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Blog #healthynurse Spotlight 04/16/2024 2:38pm CDT

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The #healthynurse Spotlight is a shout out to nurses who are making changes in their lives to improve their health and wellness. You can too! Read their stories for inspiration here.

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