Nursing is a physically, mentally and emotionally demanding profession. According to a 2012 research review, nursing is one of the most stressful jobs in the modern world. Because of the demands and stress that comes with their career, nurses often have trouble balancing their work and personal life.
There’s no way to completely eliminate stress, but there are ways to reduce their impact. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is one of the most effective ways to do this, and with the following strategies, you can strike a better balance in your life.
Building a Work-Life Balance for Nurses
1. Avoid Perfectionism
Perfectionism can burden nurses with unrealistic expectations. No one can do their job perfectly, no matter how important it is, and anyone who tries will inevitably fall short. The result is often guilt and a fixation on correcting every error, which translates to a poor nursing work-life balance. Instead of striving to be perfect, aim to do every task as well as you can and take care to avoid mistakes. Errors will happen, of course, and they should be accepted as learning experiences.
2. Unplug at Home
When workplace stresses don’t stay at the workplace, it spells disaster for work-life balance. You can easily be tempted to monitor work notifications after your shift is over. It stems from a concern for patients, but it leads to a constant focus on work. The result is a loss of the necessary rest needed to do your job well the next day.
3. Emphasize Self-Care
It’s natural for nurses to put their patients ahead of themselves, but when they fail to care for themselves, their performance diminishes along with their physical and mental health. Self-care is far from selfish. You can’t be expected to care for anyone to the level they need if you haven’t first taken care of yourself.
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4. Prioritize What Matters
People can only strike a work-life balance if they know what their priorities are, and making a list can help with that. A priority list should include all your responsibilities, including duties to others as well as to yourself. Honesty is essential here. If spending time with friends is important you and takes precedence over work, friends should appear higher on the list. Your next step is to log how you spend your time. If your time log is at odds with your priorities list, you can more easily identify what boundaries need to be set.
5. Delegate and Restructure
Delegating makes life less overwhelming, but it can be difficult to do. Nurses are responsible for their patient’s care, so have to be careful when redistributing tasks. Ask yourself:
- Who is on staff and what competencies do they have?
- Which tasks need which particular competencies?
- Which tasks would be reasonable and safe to delegate?
- Is it possible to ensure quality of care if this task gets delegated?
Delegating at home is often less tricky. Ask family members to take on more responsibility, sign up for a meal subscription kit, or hire help with housework.
6. Start by Making Small Changes
Managing self-expectations is a big part of achieving balance. It’s impossible to rework one’s approach to work and life overnight. Instead, it’s better to start small, such as by saying “no” to a new project when you’re too busy or logging out of work-related email and messaging accounts before going home. Any change that helps you feel more balanced is a good starting point.
7. Stay Physically Fit
Nurses work their bodies hard. They bend over patient beds, rush across wards, and stand for hours at a time. Without regular exercise, they can end up damaging their bodies. Make time for exercise that incorporates cardio, strength-building, and stretching.
8. Education for Personal and Professional Growth
Medical advances and care techniques are always evolving, and feeling incapable at work can be a significant cause of stress. Gain confidence knowing you’ve learned the latest in nursing with an online RN to BSN from D’Youville. Our program is taught by faculty who are masters-prepared, nationally certified, and actively practicing in the nursing field. This combination of factors means you’ll receive excellent mentorship during your educational experience.