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Nurse teaches SUP with a side of peer support

Stand-up paddleboarding shows nurses how to ‘let it go,’ while bringing them together to share experiences

Janiece Sanderson teaches stand-up paddleboarding and yoga, though not always together.She offers two kinds of SUP classes: one for private groups and one for her fellow nurses.Sanderson's RNRevival sessions allow nurses to let go of the feeling they have to be in control.However, it comes with a bonus half hour of peer support, where nurses can show gratitude for themselves and one another."I really wanted my colleagues to be able to have those moments," Sanderson said

It’s been nearly six months since Janiece Sanderson left her job as a rapid response nurse, but she still gets emotional talking about it.

First as a transplant coordinator at Lifelink, then as a nurse at Emory University Hospital Midtown, Sanderson and her team experienced a lot of trauma in their jobs.

“And then the pandemic hit, and it wasn’t just this little group going through that intensity,” she said. “Now it was all my colleagues.”

This was difficult for Sanderson, who said her heart to nurse has always been toward her peers.

“I’m not a mother hen type. I don’t go around and ask ‘Did you have your snacks?” she said. “I’ve just always been one that when I ask how you’re doing, I really mean, ‘How are you doing? What’s going on?’ ”

It was this need to care for her fellow health care workers that led to Sanderson’s new business, SUPSUN Venture.

The “SUP” in SUPSUN stands for stand-up paddleboarding, an activity Sanderson calls “freeing.”

Because nurses have to be in control all the time, she said, that feeling can carry over into their personal lives, making it difficult to let go of stress.

But out on the water, she said, “You almost have to let yourself go. You can’t control the water. You can’t control the wind. You can’t control the boats coming by and making splashes.

“But what we do so well as nurses is, we can respond to our environments,” she continued. “And I think being out there, you can respond without having to react. There’s something that you get to learn from that, and in an area where you don’t have to focus on anybody else. You’re just focusing on yourself. And I really wanted my colleagues to be able to have those moments.”

Sanderson would take nurse friends to yoga SUP classes taught by others, and although everyone enjoyed it, they were more interested in being on the paddleboard and less interested in the yoga.

That’s when she decided to design sessions specifically for nurses.

“I just kind of mimic it after how I felt on the water and how I was able to learn to let go and literally go with the flow,” she said.

What makes the nurse SUP sessions different from her other classes are the extra 30 minutes spent participating in a peer support segment.

It was during a training course at Emory, Sanderson said, that she realized how little gratitude she showed to herself — and that nurses, in general, give to themselves.

Although she acknowledges the support segment would work for moms or teachers or cancer survivors, “for me it really targets us as nurses because we don’t hear that enough, and we don’t hear it from each other.”

Right now, Sanderson runs sessions one weekend a month, with two classes on Friday at Stone Mountain and two on Saturday at Lake Lanier.

The RNRevival SUP and peer support sessions are for nurses only, but Sanderson offers private group sessions for those not in the health care field.

Sanderson provides everything you need for a session, but you’re welcome to bring your own equipment. The 90-minute classes (two hours for RNRevival sessions) cost only $45, with a discount for those who have their own boards.

Class schedules and registration can be accessed at https://supsunventure.as.me/schedule.php.

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