Ayurveda and the Power of Rhythm | What My Job as a Nurse Taught me About Stress Management

Ayurveda and the Power of Rhythm | What My Job as a Nurse Taught me About Stress Management

In Part 1 of Ayurveda and the Power of Rhythm, I introduced the concept of tuning into the rhythm of the day to deepen your health and wellbeing. In Part 2, I introduced successful ways to build healthy habits.

In this article, I will offer practical tips and understandings about keeping that rhythm when you work away from home.

With so many of us drawn to the teachings of Ayurveda and bringing simple daily habits into our lives, I get this question a lot: “How do I deal with working full time away from home and still keep my rhythm?”

I know this challenge well: I faced it full-on when I became a student of Ayurveda.

As I was learning to establish rhythm and routine in my life, I was also raising three kids and working full time as an RN with a 45-minute commute to work.

I had turned to Ayurveda because I loved how yoga made me feel. And I was impressed with how my friends who were practicing Ayurveda looked and felt: they were vibrant and beautiful, while I was burned out and getting wrinkly.

hand sketching

In Ayurveda, our whole life's journey is considered sacred. Including long days of work, kids, pets, and parents.

When I began practicing Ayurveda I was inspired by the perceptual shifts even the smallest practices brought. Scraping my tongue in the morning invited me to feel more clear and in control of my health. Massaging my feet and hands with oil before going to bed felt self-honoring, leaving me feeling worthy of a good night's sleep.

I didn't know it at the time, but I was gradually being moved from my limited sense of self, my small self, to something more sublime: my Big Self, the part of me that is limitless.

And as that light began to dawn in me, I began making small changes in my workday that allowed me to stay in rhythm—even to thrive—at work.  

How to Find Your Healthy Rhythm at Work

The first piece of making peace with working full time and upleveling your health is to set an intention. Plug into your Big Self when your mind is quiet. This might happen on a walk, in the shower, in meditation, or elsewhere.

Make your intention hum with resolve and clarity, then set small goals based on your intention.

Here are some ideas inspired by my own journey of building a healthy relationship with my work life:

Intention: I stay balanced and vital at work.


  • I find time each morning before work to quiet my mind for at least 10–15 minutes.
  • I stay super hydrated at work thanks to my thermos.
  • I get a hot plate to heat water and fresh food at work to avoid using the microwave.
  • I learn to prepare simple, fresh foods that are easy to eat at work.  
  • I pause every hour (or two) at work and breathe deeply and evenly, remembering to smile and keep things in perspective.

Action: Choose one or two of your goals to work with each week.

Accountability: Keep a journal or chart, or simply use your calendar to note your progress.


  • Avoid over-ambition and open-endedness.
  • Set a clear amount of time (I recommend a week) and celebrate your successes, no matter how small, at the end of that time.
  • Celebrations can be small (enjoying a cup of tea or taking time for an oil massage) or big (taking a day to be in nature or a weekend getaway with good friends).

Stress Reduction for Nurses

My experience working as an RN in a busy emergency room and learning to stay in rhythm was a series of baby steps. As I worked to stay super hydrated I became aware of an unconscious pattern I had of not drinking water, because it meant having to take the time to go to the bathroom.

I noted this, and gradually changed (in fact I ended up getting teased a lot by my co-workers who wondered what I was doing in the bathroom!).

When I skipped my morning meditation, I noticed a more frantic quality to my day at work; things just bothered me more.

So, I gradually learned to make time every day to meditate and my Big Self showed up more often. This made everyone happier—my family, my co-workers, and me!

I bought my first Ayurvedic Cookbook (Amadea Morningstar's Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners) and began experimenting with simple, fresh foods I could easily take to work. Cooked apples with spices and nuts, thick soups and stews, and rice and vegetable dishes became staples that nourished me through my shift work in the ER.

Gradually, I adopted the practice of healthy celebrations, and yes, this included chocolate! For a bigger celebration, I remember packing a supper picnic and taking my kids up the street to a little park where we could watch the sunset and end the day with play.

Try these simple suggestions I've outlined for you if you are ready to be more in rhythm and balanced at work.

Take your time, take those baby steps, and invite your Big Self to lead the way.

Your Big Self is the whisper of intuition, the flash of knowing, the truth that changes the way your heart is beating.