Nurses are often the unsung heroes of healthcare. They work hard to ensure that their patients receive the best care possible, but many nurses feel like they have nothing left to give at the end of a long day. This can be frustrating for nurses who want to find balance in their lives and feel stuck in a rut. However, there are ways that nurses can achieve a better work-life balance so they can enjoy their downtime.
Why nurses need work-life balance
Nurses are known for putting the needs of other people above their own. In fact, the drive to help others in need is one of the reasons people go into nursing in the first place. However, many nurses don’t realize that they must also take care of themselves. Self-care often gets pushed to the back burner until it becomes a problem.
Here are some signs that you may have a poor work-life balance:
- You’re tired all the time and have trouble sleeping at night because you’re thinking about work
- You feel exhausted at work or after work because you’ve been thinking about it all day and can’t get anything done during your shift because you’re so tired
- You have trouble keeping up with personal responsibilities such as taking care of your family, doing errands and cleaning your house
Tips to help nurses achieve a better work-life balance
How can nurses find some balance between their personal lives and careers? Here are some useful tips.
Remember that you cannot do it all
You cannot do it all, so acknowledge that there are limits to your time, energy and resources. If you try to do everything on your list, you will be exhausted and stressed and may not perform your tasks correctly.
If you have a lot going on in your life – between family, friends and hobbies – it might be difficult to say no when people ask you for help or favors after work hours. Remember that the most important thing is taking care of yourself. Your health comes first; if there are things that need to be done outside of work hours but don’t fit in an already-packed schedule, they should be put aside until another time when more free time is available to devote to them.
Prioritize your tasks
One of the most effective ways to achieve a worklife balance for nurses is to prioritize tasks. You should prioritize what you need to do, when you will do it, and the best order for completing everything. This important topic is addressed in the nursing leadership programs offered online by Walsh University. Nurses who are struggling to find the right balance may find that leadership roles give them more freedom, and courses like this allow you to fit your studies in around your work schedule so you can advance your career.
Prioritizing tasks can help you perform them better while reducing your stress. For example, if you have an email that needs to be sent out by Monday morning, write it on Friday night so you have time to proofread it before sending it. Even though the task may take slightly more time this way, it will probably have better quality and be less stressful to complete.
Turn your breaks into mini vacations
Take time to relax. If you have breaks during your shift, use them as mini vacations by turning off your phone and taking some time for yourself. Take a deep breath and close your eyes for a few minutes. You deserve it.
Get out of the hospital and go home if you can. Some hospitals offer incentives for nurses who work overtime or come in early. While these incentives may be nice from a financial standpoint, sometimes it’s better to forego them, especially when you’re tired.
Do something that relaxes you, whether it’s taking a walk outside or reading a book on your break, listening to music while doing paperwork, or going to the gym after work.
Refuel your mind through self-reflection
When your brain is tired and you are stressed, it can be challenging to find time to reflect on what is happening in your life and how it impacts how you feel. However, taking a few minutes each day to reflect on internal thoughts, feelings and emotions can help you avoid burnout by allowing yourself time to process how things are going. Some ways that nurses can refuel their minds include:
- Writing down thoughts: This can be done whenever you have free time or even when waiting for an appointment
- Meditating: Some people find that meditation helps them clear their minds
- Talking with friends or family members: Talking about work issues with someone who knows about them is another way for nurses to get perspective on what they are experiencing
Know what interferes with your mental and physical health
Being a nurse is hard work, especially in today’s hospital environment, where nurses are expected to do more with less. It’s easy for stress to build up until you feel like you’re going to explode. Sometimes the things that cause stress can be apparent (for example, your patient has been waiting for three hours for their prescription), but other times, they may not be so obvious.
One of the best ways to take care of yourself is by knowing your triggers and figuring out how to manage them when they occur. To start this process, ask yourself: What things make me feel stressed at work? How can I deal with those feelings? What works for me, and what doesn’t?
Try some techniques, such as exercise or meditation, until you find something that works for you. After all, if we could all use the same strategy, there wouldn’t be any need for self-care!
When dealing with stressful situations at work, you might try taking a few deep breaths. You should also make a point of doing something fun outside of work. Regular exercise can make a big difference in your mood.
Set boundaries between work hours and personal time
To achieve a healthy work-life balance, it is essential to set boundaries. This means that you need to be clear with yourself and others about your time commitments.
You should also make sure that the people around you know your priorities and how much time they will take in your daily life. You may need to establish rules with coworkers or patients/families who want extra attention.
Leave work at work
One of the most important tips for achieving a good work-life balance as a nurse is to leave work at work. You may be tempted to call back in the middle of your lunch break if one of your patients’ needs something or ask your coworker what their shift was like so you have an idea of what you’re getting yourself into later that night, but try to resist these urges. If you spend all your free time thinking about work, you need to take action now before it’s too late
Keep yourself motivated throughout the day
Motivation is a key factor in achieving a healthy work-life balance. Setting goals and working toward them, especially when they are achievable, can help you stay motivated throughout the day. For example, if you want to exercise more often, consider setting short-term goals such as exercising once per week or making it to the gym three times this month rather than trying to do one hour of cardio daily.
Additionally, try keeping a list of things you’re grateful for at your desk. This will remind you that there are many things outside of work worth focusing on as well.
Get enough rest
Nurses often work long shifts with unpredictable schedules, making it difficult to get enough sleep at night. However, sleep deprivation can lead to burnout, which affects your mental health as well as your physical health. When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system weakens, making you more susceptible to infections, disease and illness.
It’s also more challenging for you to focus on the tasks at hand when you’re tired because your brain doesn’t function properly without adequate rest. Getting enough sleep every night will help keep your mind sharp and make it easier for you to perform your duties without feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
Nursing is a very rewarding profession, but it can also be demanding. Nurses provide much-needed care and comfort to patients, families, and communities, but they’re also human beings with needs of their own. Nurses need to take care of themselves so they can take care of others.
Unfortunately, many nurses don’t achieve a good work-life balance. They work long hours and often put their jobs before their personal lives. This can lead to burnout, mental health issues, and even job dissatisfaction.
It may take some trial and error to find what works best for you, but it is possible for nurses to achieve a healthy balance between work and their personal life.