Finding life balance as a nurse can be a difficult job. The shift swings, the cancellations, the influx of patients at any given time all lead to a good deal of stress. Add to that the continual changes in protocols, the training classes, and increasing administrative duties and it’s no wonder nurses regularly succumb to burnout.
As a nurse who loves their job and plans to continue in the field of medicine, how can you guard yourself against the threat of burnout perpetuated by a life that always feels a little bit out-of-whack? Finding your life balance as a nurse isn’t-nor should it be-a challenge. It just requires some fine-tuning every now and then to make sure your own needs aren’t lost among those of your patients, team members, and management.
7 Tips for Promoting Balance in Your Life
Be Honest About Your Schedule: Are you the go-to on your team when someone needs to cover a shift? Do you find yourself being tasked with extra duties more often than not? If so it’s time to have an honest conversation with management about your time. Be a team player, but also let it be known that you would appreciate a little time to simply perform your regular duties and nothing more.
Plan Your “Breathers”: Anyone who works in nursing understands expecting a “lunch hour” isn’t realistic. In many cases, just grabbing 15 minutes to put your feet up and quiet your mind is a real treat. If you prioritize your tasks and organize your day a few hours at a time you may find the opportunity presents itself for a little restorative break. It’s important to plan your breathers as this won’t only help you keep a sharp mind during your shift, but will also promote life balance as a nurse.
Go Outside: Changing your view from time to time can also change your perspective. When you feel frazzled, as though you can’t take a minute more of your demanding shift, step outside and catch your breath. Time outdoors is so good for the soul. Make time for a walk each day before or after your shift. Take up running, or simply plan a hike at a nearby trail. Every moment spent in nature helps you promote your life balance as a nurse.
Make Your Nest Dreamy: Sleep is the single most important way you can create life balance as a nurse, or for anyone. It’s not always easy to “come down” after a busy shift. Especially if you work night shifts now and then. Making your home, and especially your bedroom, as comfortable as possible is a priority. Invest in some heavy-duty room darkening curtains. Try a white noise machine to help drown out the sounds of a busy home. Purchase the highest quality bedding you can afford and keep your room cool. Anything that promotes sleep for you is going to benefit your loved ones, your patients, and your co-workers.
Prioritize Doing What You Love: It’s important for everyone to have passion in their lives in addition to a career they love. In your off hours find ways to dow what you love. You might enjoy a particular hobby, creating art as an expression of yourself, shopping, cooking or going to the movies. Make sure to schedule time to experience that which brings you joy and your life balance as a nurse will benefit.
Pay Close Attention to Your Own Health: Providing care for others is your job description at it’s most basic. If you’re a parent, or even the child of a parent who’s getting on in years, you likely provide care during your off hours as well. Don’t neglect caring for the most important person in your life-you! As a nurse you know to recognize the warning signs of approaching illness in others so pay attention to yourself too. If you feel rundown, or a cold is coming on, take to your bed and binge-watch something on TV. For those times you feel down in the dumps seek out a counselor or mental health professional before depression takes hold. Up your nutrition and get some regular exercise. It will pay off in the short- and long-run.
Go Back to The Beginning: No matter how much you enjoy your career there are bound to be days when you experience ups and downs; You feel like you’re spinning your wheels and going nowhere. When that happens simply hit “pause” and reflect on those times when you felt honored and privileged that nursing is your calling. Start a nurse’s journal and record those moments when your patients made you feel your journey-even those difficult times-has been worth every moment. That’s truly life balance at it’s best.
Life Balance As a Nurse Is Achievable
No career is without it’s tough times. You’re bound to feel off-kilter no matter what you do for a living. Nurses are especially prone to feeling out-of-balance. Do what you need to do to restore your life balance as a nurse and your career will continue to reward you for many years to come.