Health and wellbeing blogs

How nurses stay on top of their own wellbeing

Lack of time is one of the biggest barriers to women making positive health changes so during this year’s Women’s Health Week we are encouraging women to take the time to make their own good health a priority. Clinical Nurse Consultant Karen explains how she stays mentally well.


St John of God Richmond Clinical Nurse Consultant AoD Karen Hanzal

What attracted you to working in mental health?

People are fascinating. My Dad wanted me to study accounting but I was far more curious about people and developing an understanding of what makes us tick.

I discovered that we’re complicated and how rewarding and meaningful it is to walk alongside others figuring that out for themselves.

How do you keep yourself mentally healthy?

  • Understanding my own personal “Pot of Self Worth”, what fills it and what drains it
  • Sleep enough
  • Talk it out
  • Write it out
  • Laugh
  • Give myself permission to take timeout for me (and recognising when I need to)
  • Make time for nurturing/fun activities – time with family and friends (even on the phone), gardening, physical work and walking around our property, caring for pets/farm animals, riding motorcycles, scuba diving, skiing, reading, swimming, sitting on my veranda in the sun listening to the birds and watching the trees
  • Regular chiropractic adjustments
  • Draw my mind back to positives and feel grateful for the small and the great in life.

How does your family support your health and wellbeing?

  • Giving hugs, listening, talking, laughing, crying and sharing life together
  • Reminding me of what’s important to me in my life and in theirs.

What tips can you give other women to stay mentally healthy?

  • Learn what fills and empties your “pot of self worth” and aim to keep it more full than empty
  • Discover what is important to you i.e. your values, strengths and assess how well you’re living these day to day. Work out what you need to do and how to get there to adjust your life (in big and/or small ways) to be more consistent with these
  • Learn something new
  • Attend to your physical health
  • Take stock of how much you’ve got on your plate every few weeks – that means work-related jobs, thinking over and overthinking things, jobs at home, relationships, family, friends, health-related issues etc. What excess baggage can you drop? What needs to give so you can make the time for what nurtures you
  • Learn to recognise and cut off negative self-talk
  • Learn to recognise early warning signs of when your body is telling you stress is ramping up and do something about it
  • Keep a personal journal – write it down rather than ruminating over it
Karen Hanzal Clinical Nurse Consultant

About the Author

Karen Hanzal is a clinical nurse consultant at St John of God Richmond Hospital's Alcohol and Other Drugs Program.