You can’t help but hear about the work-life balance these days. It’s an essential part of life, and it means that, as the name suggests, you can balance your working life and your home life in the right way, giving equal (if necessary, although sometimes you’ll need to pay more attention to one over the other) time and resources to each.
This is not something that was so much of an issue in the past. It was possible for people to work and then come home and not have to think about work again until the next day. Today, this is a luxury more than the norm because we are always connected, and work never seems to end.
As a nurse, the work does, of course, end when you leave the hospital or healthcare facility. You can’t help your patients from home, and so it makes sense that you would assume nurses have automatically got a work-life balance that is in harmony with their lives. Yet, that’s not always the case; the work of a nurse is stressful, and although they might not be working from home, they will be thinking about work – it’s inevitable. When you add long hours and shift work to the mix, you can see how the work-life balance of a nurse can be affected. It’s important to rectify this where possible; read on to find out how.
Practice Effective Time Management
It can often feel as though you’re busy all the time as a nurse. Even though you should be taking breaks and finishing your shift on time, the amount of work that must be done – simply because it is so important – often means that you work for longer than you really should. This will affect your work-life balance; the more you work, the less time you’ll have for other things.
However, although this might just seem to be something you have to deal with because that’s what nursing is like, the reality is that, if you can practice effective time management, you can make things easier. You’ll still have to work the long hours (because that is part of being a nurse, after all, and something you should be prepared for), but you should also be able to find time to do other things when you are managing your time well.
A good way to start with this, especially if you’ve never done it before, is to make a to-do list. Of course, you won’t know exactly what tasks are going to be needed in your day-to-day working life, but you will know something, even if you can’t make the list until you go through a handover at the beginning of your shift. When you make a to-do list, you should list things in order of priority. Although everything might seem urgent when you’re a nurse, when you look into the tasks in more detail, you should be able to prioritize.
Invest In Self-Care
Nurses focus on other people. They put other people first. It’s their job, to begin with, but more than that, it’s what they love to do – it’s unlikely they would have chosen to be a nurse if they didn’t because it plays such a big part in what they do each day.
If you’re a nurse, you’ll understand this. It will be the first thing you think of, and your own self-care can be lacking at times – perhaps all the time. Therefore, if you want a good work-life balance, you need to ensure you make time for self-care. This can feel like a selfish thing to do but it’s not at all. In fact, the more time you’re able to take care of yourself, the happier and healthier you will be, and that will translate into being a better nurse for your patients.
There are many ways you can practice self-care, so you’ll need to see what works for you. Some people like to go for a long walk or a run. Others like to buy themselves presents to reward themselves for a job well done. Perhaps you’ll read a book, listen to music, take a class learning about something you have an interest in, or even book a spa day occasionally. Make sure you have some self-care factored into your life and everything will become easier.
Make Time for Exercise
How does it feel to be told that exercise is a great way to enjoy a better work-life balance? Some will be excited because they love to exercise. Others will be less thrilled because exercise is a lot of hard work and takes up time that could be used for other things.
Yet, if you want a good work-life balance, a little exercise every day (if possible, because it won’t always be possible, and therefore being flexible about this and not feeling guilty is important) can be a good thing. Not only is it good for your health, but it’s good for your happiness too. Exercising releases chemicals and hormones into the body that make you feel good – they are natural mood boosters. You’ll be more productive and effective when you have exercised and feel alert and positive, and therefore trying to fit in some exercise when you can make the work-life balance easier to achieve, even if it’s eating into time that might otherwise be used for something else.
Re-Evaluate Your Diet
It’s so easy to fall into bad habits when you are a busy nurse, and most of these habits will relate to food. Grabbing a quick unhealthy snack or skipping meals altogether because you’re busy won’t help you in any way, and it certainly won’t offer you a good work-life balance. That’s because, when you have a bad diet, you’ll feel sluggish and uncomfortable. You’ll be irritable. You just won’t be working at your best.
The difference when you eat healthy food and don’t skip meals is incredible. You’ll get so much more work done and you’ll do it well because your body is working efficiently. It might not seem like a big thing but eating well can have an impact on the rest of your life and how much you enjoy every aspect of it.