As with any other career, maintaining a work-life balance for nurses is no easy feat. Being a nurse, you are often on your toes, face hectic shifts, and always have to stay on top of your schedule to meet the challenges that may spring anytime.
While nurses always try to attain a healthy work-life balance; however, according to a recent survey, many professionals are coming up short on this target. As per the findings, 63% of nurses suffered considerable stress, whereas 31% stated they weren’t comfortable with the increased workload. Also, according to a report back in 2019, approximately half of physicians and nurses experience burnout during their careers.
If nurses don’t feel satisfied at work and cannot achieve balance, they are at a higher risk of fatigue, more likely to succumb to burnout, and it’s doomed to bleed in their personal lives. However, this begs the question: how to establish the right balance between healthy family life and ambitious work life?
Unfortunately, striking a balance isn’t as straightforward as stepping out of the door as soon as the work hours end. Constant messages, emails, and other updates make the whole unplug-from-work virtually impossible. And this proves detrimental not only to one’s well-being but also to the patients on the receiving end.
Here are a couple of handy tips that can help nurses reclaim control, become more aligned and create a healthy work-life balance:
Manage time effectively
Due to the continuous influx of work demands, nurses, more often than not, find it challenging to manage their time well. However, to help maintain a nurse work life balance, create a personalised and realistic plan.
Manage priorities and figure out the areas you would like to dedicate more time. And once you have determined, come up with the strategies that can help you accommodate them in your daily routine. For instance, if the nursing rotation leaves you with almost little to no personal time, try to cut back on your schedule. Ensure to communicate with your manager and let them know your availability and the time off-limits.
Similarly, inform your family members or partner about your working schedule beforehand to avoid any inconvenience later.
Lead a healthy lifestyle
While establishing a perfect work-life balance might sound like a great idea, it might not yield harmonious results if you constantly feel exhausted and stressed. Therefore, make the most of your personal life and career by embracing a healthy lifestyle.
Try to take restorative breaks to enjoy your downtime. For instance, practice breathing exercises before you attend to the next patient. Likewise, never skip your break time; instead, slip away and reenergize yourself with healthy meals.
Moreover, nurses are vulnerable to depression and anxiety because of the emotional labor associated with their jobs. And it’s crucial to engage in physical exercise to combat these risks and nurture a positive mindset. Therefore, get your mind off things by taking a stroll at the nearby park. And if you feel a bit overwhelmed, squeeze in some time to practice mindfulness.
Ask for help
Allow yourself to practice compassion and accept what you feel. If you experience a lack of balance and fail to juggle your work and personal life, consider reaching out to the community – manager and fellow nurses. Your colleagues might lend you a helping hand and make you understand you aren’t alone in this struggle.
Additionally, you can schedule a meeting with nursing coaches. These individuals hail from the same professional background; thus, they can help you figure out ways to mitigate stress and restore work-life balance.
And if you are floundering with your chaotic life, consider speaking to a mental health specialist. Likewise, make the most of the services of an employee assistance program if you have access to it.
Remember, there may be days or even weeks when you think you aren’t making a great deal of difference. When such happens, reflect on the reasons that compelled you to get your foot in this industry.
Socialise with others
You may endure long, demanding shifts and work overtime due to nursing shortages. It’s recommendable to enjoy your scheduled days off and rejuvenate your mind to attain a healthy work-life balance.
Carve out time from your hectic routine to connect and socialize with your loved ones. Make plans with your friends to watch a good movie or anticipate hiking with your partner. You can enjoy a quick meet-up with your friend at a local café. And if you are short-handed for time, consider talking over phone calls.
The whole point is to squeeze time for what you love doing the most. These enjoyable activities and pleasures can make a substantial difference when you feel fatigued. Not only this, these activities can help you stay centered and alleviate the effects of a monotonous life.
Undoubtedly, a career in nursing is immensely gratifying. However, it can take a massive toll on your health if you fail to manage time effectively and look after yourself. In contrast, you may love your job and be passionate about making a real difference in patients’ lives and caring for others. It’s equally important, if not more, to prioritize self-care.
Achieving a work-life balance isn’t an overnight fix; it’s an ongoing process. Since personal interests and work demands change periodically; therefore, assess your priorities. Figure out the things that work the best for you and stick to them. And if you fail to strike a balance, try a different approach. All that’s to say is consistently make subtle changes and accept the realities of your profession.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.