4 Ways to Maintain a Work/Life Balance as a Nurse
A work/life balance is important for everyone. Jobs can provide a sense of achievement and satisfaction, but they can also take us away from the other things we love in life. Nursing is one of the most demanding careers and balancing the stress of nursing is challenging for many nurses. However, nurses must be sure to take time to enjoy the things they love outside of nursing for the sake of their own happiness and mental health.
Learn to De-Stress in Healthy Ways
Nursing can involve blood and guts, high-stress situations where seconds count, and long hours without any breaks. Working and then going home to eat, shower, and sleep only to get up the next day and do the exact same thing again takes a tremendous toll on the human body and mind. Even nurses who thrive in high-stress work environments need time to themselves eventually.
Stress can eventually lead to depression, anxiety, personality changes, and even decreased work performance that could potentially lead to patient harm. Nurses who work long hours and contend with difficult or hostile patients can develop a short temper or suffer work-related injuries. Consistently high stress levels also diminish immune system performance, a dangerous issue for nurses who work in close proximity to patients with infectious diseases.
Develop a Personal Care Routine
Everyone enjoys different things and finds different activities relaxing. Some nurses come home from a shift and spend time with their loved ones or go out to visit friends. Others enjoy long relaxing soaks in the tub and movies from the comfort of the couch. Some nurses may decompress after a stressful shift by playing video games, doing yoga, or playing sports on their days off. Ultimately, it is up to you to find hobbies and activities you find enjoyable and making time to enjoy those things during your off-duty time is essential for a healthy lifestyle.
Many nurses find themselves quickly eating small lunches or snacks throughout their shifts and may feel too tired to cook when they get home from work. This can lead to bad habits, like eating fast food every day or consuming too much caffeine to stay awake during long shifts. Self-care means maintaining a nutritious diet, appropriate sleep schedule, and making regular exercise a part of your routine.
The stress of nursing can make it difficult to find time for these things, but nurses should not allow their jobs to negatively impact their physical and mental health; this will eventually come full circle and poor health will inevitably affect job performance. Self-care means ensuring proper hydration every day, taking time to eat nutritious foods, and avoiding sugary and caffeinated foods that can lead to crashing during stressful times at work.
Build a Schedule
It is much easier to make time for yourself if you plan it in advance. Nurses often struggle with variable schedules, back-to-back shifts, and long hours in any given shift. Learning how to segment your free time is a great way to encourage a healthy work/life balance for yourself. Ultimately, time management is a useful skill for people of all professions and learning how to schedule time for work and time for yourself is crucial for any nurse