Nurses play a key role in the healthcare industry, not only when it comes to providing care for patients, but also by giving doctors the information they need to make decisions, by filling leadership roles in healthcare facilities and by educating patients so they understand their diagnosis.
But being a nurse is not without its challenges: it is a demanding profession that requires dedication and commitment. There are a lot of challenges nurses have to face in terms of their careers and in terms of how they are able to work effectively – workplace safety, nursing shortages, increased workload and too much time devoted to paperwork, to mention but a few. Recent studies reveal alarming statistics on nurse burnout, with 15.6% of nurses reporting feelings of burnout in the USA, and 44% of nurses leaving their job because of unfavourable conditions in the UK.
Against this background, it has become imperative for nurses to learn how to balance their work and personal life, in order to ensure they derive maximum satisfaction from their work, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But, what is work-life balance and, above all, can nurses effectively achieve their work-life balance in today’s healthcare industry? By definition, work-life balance is “a term commonly used to describe the balance that a working individual needs between time allocated for work and other aspects of life”. For nurses and, in general, health care professionals, work-life balance may seem impossible to achieve because stress is a significant component of healthcare careers. For this reason, they should pay extra attention when it comes to balancing their job and leisure, in order to live life to its fullest.
Stress is something that is very difficult to avoid when it comes to work, but a good work-life balance is not impossible, not even for a nurse! Here is some practical advice that may help nurses strike a work-life balance.
1. Set priorities
Even if you do not have much time, write down the most important tasks you have to accomplish that day, it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes. Keeping a short to-do list helps people stay on track and also allows them to feel satisfied.
2. Take breaks
Create your own small “down” time at work by taking in-between restorative breaks throughout the day. Clear your mind and refuel just by going outside the building. If you only have a short break, you can just sit on a bench and it will make a difference, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
3. Ask for help
Do not be afraid to say “no”, be honest with your manager about the number of extra shifts you can handle. If you find your responsibilities overwhelming, you might need to seek assistance.
4. Build relationships
Good relationships with your co-workers helps to build a peaceful work environment. Staff who work well together and who are positive and respectful of one another form the basis of any healthy workplace.
Look for ways to add exercise into your daily routine. Yes, you are moving around during your daily nursing routine but it is not the same as walking, running, biking, swimming or going to the gym. Exercise is the cheapest and the most effective way to achieve happiness .
6. Get enough rest
Rest is very important to energise one’s body and mind. Nurses find it difficult to get enough sleep, due to extended shifts and busy agenda’s. According to the National Sleep Foundation, seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended for adults: invest in making your bedroom comfortable and quiet. Tip: recounting the positive things that happen in your day can promote a good night’s sleep.
7. Remember why you went into nursing
From time to time, think back to what made you want to become a nurse. Everyone has ups and downs, but there can be tough days when you don’t feel like you’re making much of a difference. You might find it comforting to keep a happy thoughts journal to remind yourself that your career does matter and patients appreciate the care you provide.
8. The rule of thumb: self-care!
Self-care is one of the most important things any nurse can do to preserve longevity in the job. Working full-time and taking care of one’s family is challenging: how do you add self-care to the list?
Self-awareness is key. Know who you are and periodically check your own goals, desires, wants and needs and readjust the demands of work and home as much as you can. To achieve not only balance but also peace, fulfillment, and happiness in your life. Know yourself: take action, and maintain as much control as possible over both work and home.
Your work matters!
Last but not least, nursing is a profession that impacts all ages and socioeconomic levels of society. Nurses provide an overwhelming amount of care on a social, emotional and even psychological level, but also perform a plethora of duties that go beyond mere patient care. The nursing field is continually growing and expanding, and here at CliniShift we want to help improve your work-life balance by making your working life easier.