Duke Wellness Champs: Larissa Fulkerson Reserves Time for Balance

From reading books to cross-stitching, Larissa Fulkerson has figured out how to find calm

Larissa Fulkerson and her cross-stitching

“I try to find moments a few days each week, when the opportunity arises, to just have quiet time, no devices, minimal noise,” Fulkerson said. “When I’m just sitting there looking at my phone, reading social media, I’ll remind myself to put the phone down and go do something quiet.”

Fulkerson’s commitment to finding balance is what makes her a Duke Wellness Champ. With our series, Duke Wellness Champs, Working@Duke will spotlight staff and faculty who take charge of their overall physical, mental and/or social well-being. Through each person’s story, we hope to inspire and help colleagues in pursuit of their wellness goals.

Building quiet time into her routine is something Fulkerson began doing last year, as she realized the stress of work, family and the pandemic were weighing on her well-being. Fulkerson said she made changes such as working out with a CrossFit group near her Raleigh home and trying to cut down on the amount of processed food in her family’s diet.

“You always hear people say that you can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself,” Fulkerson said. “That’s something that’s always been in the back of my mind. But sometimes, you have to take control and do something about it.”

Fulkerson works 12-hour shifts, often on weekends, meaning there are mornings and afternoons during the week when she can be home alone. These are the opportunities she tries to make the most of by reading “actual books” on a wide range of subjects – she recently read a book on the potential of technology and another on religion – and making progress on cross-stitching projects.

Cross-stitching is a hobby she took up in 2022, and she’s found challenges in the intricate patterns and satisfaction once her designs are complete.

“I feel less anxious,” Fulkerson said. “I feel more centered. It helps me put things into perspective. I don’t feel as though I’m rushing. While life still has its stressors, taking this time just helps me feel more relaxed.”

Is there an inspiring colleague in your corner of Duke who embraces physical, mental and/or social well-being? Let us know. Write working@duke.edu.