Nurses are some of the busiest people on the planet. They often have to juggle a hectic work schedule with managing their personal lives. Although it can be tough, it is important to strive for a healthy work/life balance. Here are seven tips to help you do just that.
1. Set Priorities
The day-to-day in any healthcare position can be hectic, leading to extra stress and, in return, less time to relax. The key to combating this is to take some time to plan out your tasks in order of priority.
Taking just 15 minutes on your commute to work to plan out what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. In theory, this should help you effectively manage your time at work without sacrificing patient care quality.
When planning out your workday, start with the tasks that need to be done before a set time, such as administering medication, and work the rest of your schedule around them. This way, if something urgent comes up, you can move some tasks around to accommodate.
It doesn’t have to be too detailed, but it should help you get through all your tasks and help you leave on time
2. Don't Forget About Your Own Health
As a Nurse, you put the health and well-being of others before your own every single day. You likely find it challenging to get enough sleep, eat properly and exercise regularly, and you aren’t alone.
The importance of keeping a balanced diet, regularly exercising and sleeping enough cannot be overstated. Not only will you feel better at work, but you will feel much more refreshed on your time off and able to spend more time doing the things you enjoy.
Try planning out your meals for the work week ahead of time, and avoid any “trending” diet plans. There are plenty of guides online on how to maintain a healthy diet, but we like the guides from the British Nutrition Foundation or the list of nutrition tips from Nurse.com.
Exercise can be difficult to fit in, especially after a long shift on the ward, but it is essential. Exercise releases endorphins, which can help reduce stress and help you relax after a long day at work.
Mayo Clinic released a report which identifies specific ways that exercise can help relieve anxiety and depression, these include:
- Positive coping: By choosing helpful habits like working out, we combat unhealthy addictions like smoking or drinking that only worsen our stress.
- Brain chemistry: Exercising releases endorphins in your brain which then causes you to feel immediate pleasure and relief.
- Thought patterns: Exercise is a great way to redirect your thoughts from negative topics and counterproductive mental cycles.
Another benefit is that exercise directly affects disease prevention, mobility, and energy levels. When you feel better physically, you’re more likely to be better emotionally.
When you feel better physically and emotionally, it won’t feel like work is draining you, and you’ll feel much more able to do the things you enjoy outside of work.
3. Take a Tech Break
It’s no secret that we live in a world that is increasingly reliant on technology. From our phones to our computers, we use technology for everything from communicating with loved ones to paying our bills. While this convenience is certainly welcomed, it also means that we are spending more and more time staring at screens. And while there are many benefits to this increased connectivity, it can also take a toll on our mental health. Studies have shown that extended screen time can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as problems with concentration and sleep.
We’re all guilty of spending far too long scrolling on our phones after work, then we feel like the day has been wasted. That’s why it’s important to take some time after work away from your phone to collect your thoughts and engage with the world around you.
The time we spend scrolling could instead be used to reflect on our day or take time for self-care. Taking walks, reading books, or even just relaxing for a little bit can help you reset and refocus before heading into the next workday.
Try putting down your devices for just an hour once you get home from work and spend that time taking care of yourself. You’ll feel much more refreshed and work will be the last thing on your mind.
4. Set Clear Boundaries
As a nurse, you have a lot of demands placed on your time. You may often find yourself working long hours, weekends, and holidays. It can be difficult to maintain a healthy work/life balance under these conditions. However, it is important to set boundaries at work to protect your personal time and energy.
It’s essential to establish firm start and end times that you can differentiate as “work time.” To accomplish this, try waking up earlier than usual and do something before work starts. This way, you won’t feel like you’re “waking up for work,” but rather that work is just the next item on your agenda today.
It can be difficult to disconnect from work after a long shift, but it’s important to try. Turn your mind off work-related matters and conversations with colleagues. You should get into the habit of establishing clear boundaries between your time at work and your personal time
5. Set Goals for Outside of Work
One way to help improve your work/life balance is to set goals outside of work. Whether it’s taking a dance class, training for a race, or simply spending more time with friends and family, having something to look forward to outside of work can help you stay focused and motivated. Additionally, setting goals outside of work can help you feel more fulfilled in your life overall. When you have hobbies and interests that you’re passionate about, you’re less likely to feel burnt out at work.
As a Nurse, it can be easy to let your job take over. It’s important to have other hobbies and goals that you can focus on when you aren’t working. Having these goals can help you to remember what’s important to you and keep you from getting too wrapped up in your work. Additionally, making time for yourself can help you to be a better nurse. When you’re well-rested and have had time to do things that you enjoy, you’ll be able to focus more at work and be more “patient” with your patients.
6. Change What You Can Change, Accept What You Can't
As a Nurse, there are a lot of things in your job that are entirely out of your hands. These things can be incredibly stressful, more so when you are aware that you can’t do anything about it. This stress can follow you home, which brings your working life further into your personal life.
The first thing you need to do is come to terms with your stress, instead of suppressing it. Talk to your friends, loved ones or colleagues about what stresses you out, including those things that you can’t change.
Once you are more aware of the things that cause stress, you can take a step back and understand that not everything is in your control. There will be some things that you can’t do anything about, and that’s okay. Rather than dwelling on them, focus on the things that you can change for the better.
Of course, you shouldn’t have to stay quiet when structures and processes are creating extra stress for you and your fellow Nurses. You can advocate for change in the workplace, and do what you can to help make it a better place for you and your fellow Nurses.
7. Seek Help When Needed
Maintaining a healthy work/life balance can be difficult, especially for Nurses. If you find yourself struggling to juggle your work and personal life, it may be time to seek professional help. There are many mental health professionals who specialize in helping people manage their stress and anxiety.
Finding someone that you feel comfortable talking to is key, as this will make it easier to open up and discuss any issues or concerns that you may have. You should also consider talking with your employer about ways they could support you better in managing your work/life balance. While employers don’t always know what their employees need, creating an open dialogue about the issue can help them understand how best to help.
No matter what, you should never feel ashamed or embarrassed about seeking help. As a Nurse, it’s important to remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health—it’s what allows you to do your job. By taking the time to take care of yourself, you can ensure that you are better equipped to provide quality care for others.
Tips for Maintaining a Work/Life Balance as a Nurse - Conclusion
As a nurse, you have an important and demanding job. It is essential to your well-being that you find ways to maintain a healthy work/life balance. The tips we’ve provided should help you get started on finding the right balance for you. What works for one nurse might not work for another, so it’s important to experiment until you find what keeps you happy and healthy. Do you have any tips for maintaining a healthy work/life balance? We’d love to hear them!