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#TreatYourself: Local nurses share their self-care solutions

It's no secret that nurses work hard. Between the demands of a job that can regularly requires 12-hour shifts and competing priorities at home, there can be little time for self care.

For these five local nurses, self care takes on forms as unique as their own very different lives and schedules.

(Pixabay)

Ashley Dean, Northside Hospital, WellStar Kennestone – Exercise, exercise, exercise

Over the past five years, Ashley Dean has been working as a nurse and embracing her passion for critical care. As an ER nurse, she typically works back-to-back 12-hours shifts.

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Since she doesn't arrive home until about 10 p.m., Dean said she typically takes a long shower as a part of her self-care routine before getting ready to go to sleep. "Sometimes I'll have a glass of wine and watch TV for maybe 20 minutes before bed. Then I have to be up at 6 a.m."

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On her days off, Dean enjoys spending time with her family, reading and staying active. "Exercise is big for me. It's probably my number one form of self care. I'm a runner so I try to work out whenever I'm off."

When her husband is off, Dean also likes to take time to herself to run errands. "My job is to care for people and then I come home and take care of my children, so any chance I have to be by myself is a good thing," Dean said. Simple tasks such as grocery shopping or browsing in Hobby Lobby help her to feel rejuvenated.

Jaylyn Williams, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center – Primetime and wine

For Jaylyn Williams, working a Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule was crucial for her to live her best life. "Because working 12-hour shifts was becoming so stressful, it was really important for me to be off on weekends and holidays," Williams said.

In her current role, Williams describes herself as the watch guard for patients undergoing procedures. Five years into her career, she says that her work schedule allows her to stay active in her church and do the activities she enjoys. "I just try to find my little peaceful moments wherever I can. I try to grab whatever time I have to myself for myself," Williams said.

Once a week, Williams makes time to catch her favorite television show and relax with comfort food. "My dedicated me time is Thursday evenings. It's me, Chinese food, a glass of wine and an episode of Grey's Anatomy."

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Katie Edelstein, DeKalb County Health Department – Keep it moving

Katie Edelstein has been in the medical field since 2007 and has worked as a floor nurse and in labor and delivery. Today she works part-time in a clinic setting that allows her to manage her patient load.

"I was working and seeing 30 to 50 patients daily at one point," Edelstein said. "Now I've got what I can handle and I can see people without being rushed. I like being able to take time with each patient."

When she's at home, Edelstein has a passion for dancing and staying active. "I used to do dance classes – hip hop, modern or jazz – and those were a ton of fun!" she laughed. Now she focuses more on running as a form of self care.

Whenever possible, Edelstein also likes to unwind by spending time with her husband and other families from their church. More often, their down time is spent watching TV together. "Once we get our kids in bed, we just like to relax and watch Netflix or Prime Video," Edelstein said. 

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Kia Pascal, WellStar Kennestone Hospital – Embrace the arts

Working three 12-hour shifts per week, it's not always easy for Kia Pascal to find time to herself. "I usually come straight home and shower," she said of a typical evening after work. When possible, she also likes to squeeze in a little of what she fondly refers to as "trash TV."

When she has spare time, Pascal focuses on creative activities as her spin on self care. "I love cooking and painting," Pascal said. "I also crochet dolls, so I do that sometimes." Recently, she started a book club that reads at least one book per month.

When her husband is available, Pascal enjoys going on day trips to nearby locations like Chattanooga or Helen.

Lisa Gerdes, Shepherd Center – Enjoy the great outdoors

"Hands-down the most stressful part of my job is the emotional side. You develop a relationship with your patients and get connected to them," Lisa Gerdes said as she approaches her eleventh year working as a nurse. "You think about them when you're not at work and sometimes I can't sleep at night."

Gerdes, who is working part-time so that she can spend more time with her three children, says that time for herself can be hard to come by. She describes herself as an introvert and says it can be draining to be in constant contact with people throughout the day. "When I come home I really need time alone to decompress and just chill by myself," Gerdes said.

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Outside of that, Gerdes spends her down time outdoors with her family. "We really like hiking, swimming, biking, camping and lately we've gotten into rock climbing," Gerdes said. "I have three boys, so this makes all of us happy!"

For self care, Gerdes says she doesn't have a specific routine. "If chocolate counts then maybe chocolate would be my self care routine," she said.

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