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Beyond Scrubs: How 10 Nurses Find Balance and Joy in Their Downtime

Two people in a kayak

Hobbies not only reduce your stress — they build resilience.

From birdwatching to horseback riding, nurses are just as multifaceted in their interests and passions as they are in their clinical skills. 

By shining a spotlight on their interests and talents, we aim to inspire and encourage other nurses to pursue their passions, foster work-life balance, and support their own well-being.

1. Beach trips

Kirsten Anderson, RN

As a nurse who works in both the adult neuro-ICU and pediatric PACU settings, Kirsten Anderson, RN, BSN, understands the importance of maintaining her work-life balance. She enjoys doing many things in her off time, but what brings her the most joy is spending time at the beach. 

“Being born and raised in Florida, the beach, warm weather, and palm trees make me feel at home and at peace,” she said. “Throughout my life, the beach has been my happy place and somewhere I like to spend my time when I’m not busy in scrubs.”

Anderson, who lives in Tampa, Florida, added that she loves the beach because it’s so adaptable to her needs. Whether relaxation or fun with her friends, she knows the beach will rejuvenate her. 

2. Paddle boarding 

Nannette Prevost, RN

Nannette Prevost, RN and founder of Remember Me NFP, a non-profit organization raising awareness around suicide prevention and substance use, spends her time paddle boarding around her home in Largo, Florida. A nurse of 38 years, she regularly competes in paddle board races and goes out on the water with friends. 

Paddle boarding supports both her mental and physical health, while giving her new experiences. She has managed to paddle board in many diverse and exciting locations, including a race at Sand Key Bridge in Clearwater, Florida, where she paddle-boarded six miles with a strong current. 

But she admitted that, “Paddle boarding in the Grand Canyon was the most epic [thing] I’ve ever done.” Being able to take in the beautiful landscape while doing something she loves was an exhilarating experience, and according to Prevost, “full of adventure.” 

3. Hiking

Outside of his role as a nurse practitioner, Scott George, MSN, AGACNP-BC, APRN, finds solace on hikes and trail runs. “It’s a great way to appreciate the outdoors and clear your mind,” he said. 

George, who lives in Durham, North Carolina, added that these activities help him de-stress. He said that taking time to go on a long hike or a brisk trail run helps his mental health and that exposure to the sun alone also improves his mindset. 

Scott George, APRN

4. Adventures with family

Rashada Webster, RN

Rashada Webster, ADN, RN, is a postpartum nurse from Raleigh, North Carolina. She loves being a nurse and especially enjoys her role supporting mothers and newborns. 

But off the clock, she enjoys spending time with her family. “I love going on adventures and creating memories with my husband and two children,” she said. “Our favorite pastimes include horseback riding, going to amusement parks, and splashing at the beach. Seeing the excitement on their faces makes the long hours worth every minute.”

Webster, a nurse of three years and recent Daisy Award recipient, said, “Becoming a nurse was the greatest career decision of my life, but I’m not just a nurse — I’m a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. All these titles keep me well rounded inside and outside of work.”

5. Content creation

Abby Flaherty, RN

Abby Flaherty, BSN, RN, works as an emergency department nurse in Boston, Massachusetts, so finding joy outside of work is a huge priority for her. She loves spending time with her family and three dogs, but outside of that, she enjoys creating content online.

 “I love taking fun pictures and creating videos about my daily life,” she said. “I love that I’m able to be creative and film fun things and share that with people I’ve become friends with through social media.”

While she loves her nursing job, she said that content creation gives her an escape from the stress. “I get excited to film certain aspects of my life and when I think of new content ideas,” Flaherty said. 

And although she loves devoting time to her creative side, she understands the importance of disconnecting. “There’s definitely a balance of what stays in my personal life and having time away from the phone and camera,” she said. 

6. Horseback riding

Kyndall Estep

Kyndall Estep is currently a junior nursing student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is taking on new roles. She currently serves as President of the North Carolina Association of Nursing Students. 

Outside of the classroom, Estep spends her time horseback riding. “I started this hobby in elementary school and have been doing it off and on ever since,” she said. “I think that’s one reason I enjoy it — I’m able to center myself with what I wanted even as a child.” 

Estep, who is also a Pre-Slate National Student Nurses’ Association Presidential Candidate, added that riding horses doesn’t just help her relax, it allows her to connect with animals. “It’s a wonderful opportunity and feeling to have,” she said. “Horses are powerful creatures who weigh more than 10 times what I do yet allow me to get on top of them and experience life from their perspective.”  

7. Birding

Carole Jakucs, RN

As a diabetes nurse educator and freelance healthcare journalist, Carole Jakucs, MSN, RN, PHN, CDCES, enjoys sharing her clinical knowledge with both students and other clinicians. But outside of her role, she’s an ardent birdwatcher or birder

“I love several things about birding. It keeps me on my toes in both my mind and my body, allows me to enjoy the outdoors, and enables me to view the beauty of nature,” Jakucs shared. Jakucs, with more than 26 years of nursing experience and currently living in El Segundo, California, added that birding is also a great stress reliever. 

“Feeling the soft breeze and warm sun touch your skin, enjoying the soothing sounds of birds chirping, and the wind gently rustling the leaves of the trees…all of these are calming to the soul,” she said.

8. Refinishing and refurbishing furniture

Lois Rados is a retired nurse from Grants Pass, Oregon. During her time in nursing, she has worked in two states and various settings, including an acute rehab unit, a med-surg floor, and discharge planning. 

Since retiring in 2022, she has found joy in refinishing and refurbishing old furniture. “It’s exciting when I find an old, discarded piece whose better days have passed and breathe new life into it,” she said. “It’s the process of stripping it down to a raw state, supporting or restructuring where needed, then dressing it in new attire.”

Rados, who was a nurse for over 24 years, said the satisfaction of creating is what she loves most about working with old furniture.  “Often during the process an idea will develop that allows me to make something completely unique, and at times, totally different than my original plan,” she said.

Retirement has given her more freedom, Rados shared. “The clock no longer demands that proverbial race,” she said. “I can stay in moments with paint up to my elbows as long as I wish.”

Lois Rados

9. Gardening

Alice Benjamin, FNP-C

Alice Benjamin, MSN, ACNS-BC, FNP-C and Chief Nursing Officer Consultant for, is a clinical nurse specialist and nurse practitioner with over two decades of nursing experience, specializing in cardiology, critical care, and emergency medicine. She also serves as a TV medical correspondent, educating the public on health-related issues. 

Outside of her clinical and media roles, Benjamin loves to spend time gardening. “There's something incredibly fulfilling about nurturing plants from seeds or small saplings and watching them grow and thrive,” she said. “I love the tactile experience of gardening — the feel of soil in my hands, the delicate process of planting, and the daily ritual of watering and care.”

Benjamin, who lives and practices in Los Angeles, California, said gardening contributes to her life in many ways, including benefiting her mental health. “After long hours of fulfilling but demanding nursing duties, gardening offers me a tranquil escape where I can unwind and recharge,” she said. 

She added that it also strengthens her connection to the environment as well as a sense of responsibility toward preserving nature. “It's a reminder of the delicate balance of life and the importance of nurturing and caring for our world, much like how we care for our patients in nursing,” she said.

10. ATV riding

Jessica Newman, LPN works in a private medical practice in Fayetteville, North Carolina. While she enjoys her role as a licensed practical nurse, she loves spending time riding ATVs with her family and friends. 

“This activity allows us to enjoy being together and take our stress [away] by getting covered in mud,” she said.

Newman, who is currently preparing to take her NCLEX-RN exam, said that riding ATVs allows her to release stress in a healthy way. “There’s something about driving through mud that reduces my stress level after a long, trying week,” she added.

Jessica Newman, LPN

Nurse work-life balance is crucial for maintaining a healthy career in health care. By engaging in hobbies and passions outside of work, nurses can recharge and better support their mental and physical well-being.