ANA Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation® Spotlight - Heather Wulf, RN, BSN, CMCN 4763

ANA Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation® Spotlight - Heather Wulf, RN, BSN, CMCN


Nurse conquers anxiety through action and healthy habits

Personal-development and salesmanship expert, Dale Carnegie, once said, "Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, don't sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy."

This famous quote holds so much meaning for #healthynurse Heather Wulf, RN, BSN, CMCN, who has dealt with anxiety for most of her life. Beginning in her teenage years, anxiety cast a shadow of uncertainty over her life. Since then, it hasn’t been a passing feeling for Heather; it's a constant companion woven into the fabric of daily living. But rather than succumb to its paralyzing grip, Heather has learned to face it head-on.

The key to doing this? Staying busy. She finds solace in action and makes a deliberate choice to stay engaged in the world around her.

"Anxiety can be paralyzing, but I've learned that staying busy is my antidote," Heather shares. "It's about channeling that restless energy into something positive."

Thriving Through Movement, Mindfulness, and Music
Many healthy lifestyle habits have shifted Heather’s anxiety from debilitating to manageable. One example is movement, which has become Heather's sanctuary. Walking is a refuge where she can quiet the noise within and reconnect with her inner strength.

"Movement is medicine for the mind," Heather affirms. "Whether it's yoga, stretching, or taking a brisk walk, I find peace in motion."

Mindfulness became another guiding principle in Heather's life. It’s a daily practice of grounding herself in the present moment and finding gratitude amidst the chaos. She carves out moments of stillness and practices deep breathing and quiet reflections to center herself.

Along these same lines, positive thinking and self-love keep Heather grounded. She often reminds herself and her family members to “be your own best friend.”

Listening to podcasts and immersing herself in inspirational literature also play key roles in her self-care routine. She keeps at least one book with her at all times. No matter where she is, she’ll read a page or two to calm her mind, when needed.

Music is another essential part of Heather’s life. From upbeat melodies that lift her spirits to soulful, nostalgic tunes, music helps Heather connect with her inner self and get through life's challenges with grace.

"Music is connection — the right music links to my memories. It connects me to my inner child, to calm, to the good times and the sad ones, too," says Heather. "The right music can reach the depths of me."

Fueling the Body and Mind
Another way she takes care of herself is through her diet. Over the years, Heather has noticed a clear connection between eating junk food and experiencing aches and pains throughout her body. When she cuts down on processed foods, her pain decreases. That insight motivates Heather to avoid foods and drinks that increase inflammation, such as highly processed foods.

Heather is mindful of the potential health risks associated with pesticides and synthetic chemicals, so she opts for organic produce. "Organic fruits and vegetables are huge for me," she affirms, noting that she follows the Environmental Working Group's "dirty dozen" list. This helps her avoid certain options that are most susceptible to pesticide contamination.

Next on Heather’s list of must-dos is hydration. She makes a point of drinking purified water every day. Whether she's sipping it steadily throughout the day or adding in some homeopathic remedies to help her body absorb it better, she's all about fueling her body with what she needs to feel her best.

The Foundation for Tough Times
All these healthy habits create a strong and sturdy foundation for Heather — so much so that she can cope with almost anything.

When her mom passed away about a year ago, Heather found herself grappling with overwhelming waves of grief. Her commitment to self-care and her strong mind/body connection makes her resilient. That strength provides a reliable anchor in turbulent waters. Most importantly, Heather gives herself the grace to grieve however she needs to.

"I wanted it to be a personal process for me. I didn’t want to reach out to a grief counselor to get over it faster," says Heather. "Even though it’s hard, the grief has helped me feel closer to my mom."

Shaping Herself in Her Role as a Nurse
It’s clear that Heather’s healthy lifestyle helps her manage her anxiety and navigate grief, but it does so much more than that. It makes her a better nurse. Through her own experiences, she's cultivated more empathy, understanding, and patience — qualities that shine through in her interactions with those around her every day.

As Dale Carnegie wisely said, “action breeds confidence and courage.” Heather is proof of that. Her healthy actions give her the confidence and courage she needs to be the best nurse — and the best human — she can be.

Heather Wulf, RN, BSN, CMCN, is a utilization management nurse at Humana.

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Blog #healthynurse Spotlight 06/11/2024 12:30pm 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.