Finding a healthy work-life balance for nurses can be difficult. As a nurse, you are constantly seeking the perfect balance between your personal life and professional responsibilities. You strive to be the very best caregiver for your patients, while also managing multiple obligations in your personal life. Unfortunately, juggling numerous priorities without adequate support or restful breaks can lead us down an unsustainable path. This not only affects our physical health but hinders our emotional well-being, which is vital for all professions requiring compassionate care.
In order to achieve harmony in both worlds, it’s essential to establish strategies that will create a healthy work-life balance for nurses. In this blog, we’ll explore what a healthy work-life balance looks like, why it’s important, and how nurses can achieve the perfect work-life balance.
Why Is a Work-Life Balance Important for Nurses?
Work-life balance is the idea of having an equal amount of time and energy devoted to your job and other aspects of your life such as family, friends and hobbies. It means taking breaks when necessary, setting boundaries between work and personal life, and making time for yourself to relax and recharge.
Achieving this balance in your life is important for a number of reasons. It helps prevent nursing burnout by ensuring you have time to rest and relax away from work, and it also reduces stress levels so you can perform better on the job. For nurses and other healthcare professionals, setting boundaries and prioritizing self-care is critical because of the physical, emotional and mental demands of the profession. Additionally, having a sustainable work-life balance is linked to improved productivity, creativity and overall health.
Symptoms of Stress and Nursing Burnout
Trying to juggle too many things at once can be a recipe for stress and nursing burnout. It’s important to recognize the signs of stress and burnout so you can take proactive steps to handling it before it becomes too difficult to manage and sustain a healthy work-life balance. Common signs of stress can range from feeling uncertain and anxious, to being tired and overwhelmed all the time. Other symptoms include depression, denial, anger, difficulty sleeping, low motivation, feeling helpless or having trouble concentrating. All of these symptoms can indicate that your body is being overworked.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a few ways you can cope with stress include communicating with those around you when you’re feeling overwhelmed, identifying the things you can and cannot control, and creating a consistent daily routine. Being intentional with your time and making an effort to create healthy routines that fit your lifestyle is essential for managing stress. If you take note of when you experience overwhelming feelings, you will become more self-aware and will proactively reduce the risk of nursing burnout.
Self-Care Strategies for Nurses and Healthcare Workers
Healthcare workers often forget to put their own feelings and health first, but self-care is essential to reduce stress and prevent burnout. Here are some strategies to help you cope with stress and work toward a healthier work-life balance for nurses:
Take Care of Your Physical Health
Incorporating physical exercise into your daily routine is one of the most powerful ways to reduce symptoms of stress. Not only does exercise improve mental wellbeing, it also directly impacts energy levels and helps with disease prevention. Trying to establish an exercise routine? Try to incorporate simple and achievable goals into your day-to-day activities, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going for a quick walk around the block during your break. You can also try walking with a friend to enjoy social interaction during physical exercise.
Did you know? The CDC recommends adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.
Get Adequate Sleep
As a nurse, getting enough sleep is easier said than done. With tight schedules and dealing with stress on a daily basis, feeling tired and overworked isn’t uncommon. Studies suggest that seven to nine hours of quality shuteye is needed daily. To give your body the rejuvenation it deserves, try these helpful tips to achieve better sleep:
- Start each day by waking up at a consistent time and soaking up those morning rays.
- Steer clear of caffeine after lunchtime.
- Set aside an hour or two before bed as “you-time” and establish a routine that will help you wind down.
Limit your use of digital devices, such as smartphones, tablets and TVs, before bedtime.
Invest in Your Relationships
Establishing and nurturing relationships can be a challenge for those with hectic schedules, but it is also one of the best ways to achieve work-life balance as a nurse. Make sure to set aside some dedicated quality time to spend with your loved ones. Doing something you enjoy with other people, like cooking a meal, watching a movie or playing board games, helps you build stronger connections. These connections can provide emotional support during challenging times and can offer advice and help when you need it most. Building strong relationships with friends, family and co-workers is one of the best investments you can make.
Prioritize Your Mental and Emotional Health
Taking care of your own mental and emotional health is just as important as caring for your patients. An important self-care strategy for nurses is to set up personal boundaries between work and home life. Setting boundaries and disconnecting from the stress you may have experienced at work will improve your mental wellbeing and help you wind down at the end of each day. Another good practice is to incorporate activities into your routine that promote happiness. This could involve things like playing an instrument, indulging in creative hobbies or simply catching up with friends over dinner and drinks. You can also set aside a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness techniques, like breathing exercises or meditation.
Remember that taking care of yourself is not selfish, it’s necessary. With proper care of ourselves, we can provide better care for others. Recognizing the symptoms of stress and implementing self-care strategies as a nurse will help you stay centered, rested and healthy throughout your career. If you need additional help, know that there are resources available to you as a healthcare worker.
If you’re looking for more freedom and flexibility as a nurse, Favorite is here to help! Explore our per diem opportunities or try a local or travel contract. Search our current job openings and get connected with a recruiter today!