From the desk of Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, April 27, 2012

Editor's note: This feature is written by nursing professional development expert Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN. Each week, Adrianne writes about an important issue in the area of professional development or answers reader questions. If you have a question for Adrianne, e-mail her at

Health and wellness of nursing professional development specialists: Taking care of ourselves
As nursing professional development (NPD) specialists, we are often called upon to facilitate employee health promotion programs. We are also apt to neglect our own health and wellness. I was recently chatting with a colleague who had been instrumental in designing an employee wellness program that included aerobics and yoga classes offered onsite at her hospital, weight loss programs, smoking cessation programs, and access to a community college's swimming pool and exercise facilities. Impressed, I asked her what activities she had chosen to participate in. Her reply was, "Me? I'm way too busy for that stuff!"

That seems to be the story of our lives. But if we don't take care of ourselves, how can we expect others to follow our advice about health and wellness? Here are some suggestions for making the time to take care of ourselves.

  • Make exercise a part of your life. If you really can't make use of those exercise DVDs sitting in a pile next to your DVD player, or walk on that treadmill lurking in your basement, perhaps you could:
    • Park as far away as safely possible from the employee entrance at work, the entrance to the mall, grocery store, etc., instead of looking for the closest space. Those extra steps really add up and will help promote fitness and, if needed, weight loss.
    • Investigate membership at a no frills gym. You can avoid the expense of a gym that has a swimming pool, formal classes, juice bar, etc. by joining a relatively inexpensive gym that concentrates on letting you be yourself and exercise at your own pace. Planet Fitness is a chain that comes to mind. For just a few dollars a month you have 24-hour access (on weekdays, on weekends the hours may be more limited) to treadmills, stationary bicycles, and weights. You may come and go as you please.
    • Find some type of exercise that you really like and have ready access to. Walking, swimming, hiking, dancing, try whatever works for you! Check out the continuing education calendars from local school districts. These are great resources for all kinds of fun exercise options at reasonable prices.
    • Find someone to exercise with. Many people need someone to help motivate them to exercise.
    • Think about commandeering your children's Wii video game console. Some of those games provide a terrific workout.
  • Check with your human resource department about benefits you may not even be aware of. You may have access to discounts for various exercise facilities just because you are an employee at a particular organization. You may be able to secure a spa discount for a facial, massage, etc. Take time to pamper yourself. Check out local community college programs such as those training beauticians, cosmetologists, massage therapists, etc. These programs frequently offer discounts because services are provided by students.
  • Make time to enjoy an activity that has nothing whatsoever to do with work. For example, how about listening to an audio book as you commute to work or carpool the kids from one activity to another. Check with your local craft stores and find out about classes and group activities that are just plain fun.
  • Avoid or reduce your caffeine intake. Caffeine in large enough quantities can add to your stress, elevate your blood pressure, and increase your heart rate.
  • Stop smoking. This is tough. Consult with your physician and/or your employee health department for support and advice.
  • Pack a snack of fresh fruit or vegetable sticks for a break at work. This will help avoid the sugary snacks so readily available at most work places.
  • Finally, take time, even if it's just 10 minutes a day to do absolutely nothing. Relax for those few minutes and don't think about anything except recharging your energy.

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