Work-Life Balance in Nursing
For nurses, maintaining a good work-life balance has always been a challenge. For nurses working on the front lines of COVID-19, that balance has become even more difficult to achieve.
According to Nursing2020, “Work-life balance means bringing work, whether done on the job or at home, and leisure time into balance to live life to its fullest”. The Journal of Trauma Nursing defines work-life balance as “something that is both hard to define and hard to achieve. In fact, the meaning of work-life balance is different for every single person.”
How to Navigate Your Work-Life Balance as a Nurse
Long work hours, inadequate staffing and supplies, financial concerns, relationship and childcare challenges, and worries about friends and family who are at risk for COVID-19 are some of the stressors that can take a toll on your physical and mental well-being.
Heightened stress levels coupled with poor work-life balance can lead to burnout at a time when we can least afford to lose nurses. Nurses can begin to feel exhausted and disenchanted with the nursing career they used to love. Burnout can lead to depression and anxiety, and often results in nurses leaving their jobs.
As a nurse, achieving a healthy work-life balance will require intentional steps. Here are some strategies that you can implement and practice to manage stress and decrease the risk of burnout.
Take time for yourself
Practice a mindfulness routine during lunch or in between patients by taking a few deep cleansing breaths and acknowledging how you feel in the moment. Take a walk outside or do some stretches to loosen tight muscles.
When you leave work, make sure to leave work at work and do something you enjoy. Spend time chatting with family and friends virtually, or work on a hobby.
Work on relationships
Build positive relationships with your coworkers. This is the time to lift each other up to ensure that everyone feels supported.
Manage conflicts immediately, both at work and at home. Letting problems fester can drain your emotions and energy.
Spend time in nature moving your body most days of the week. Take a walk, hike a trail, or bike with your kids.
Eat healthy. Treat yourself well by eating fresh, wholesome foods that will nourish your body and mind.
If you feel overwhelmed, seek help. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
Take control over your personal life
Delegate chores that cause stress and take up valuable time. Try using a grocery delivery app to reduce the time spent shopping for food or other essential items. Ask your family to share household chores.
Initiate a conversation with your family to discuss the importance of spending time together as well as alone. Give your family the gift of bonding time, but also take time to relax without added pressure from family or friends.
Learn to say no. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance might mean turning down extra projects or requests. Give yourself permission to use that time for self-care.
Get adequate rest and sleep
In addition to resting your body, give your mind a break too. Focus on the positive aspects of your day, rather than the negative.
Get adequate sleep, aiming for at least 7 to 8 hours a night. Examine your bedtime routine and make any necessary changes to improve.
Implementing strategies to improve work-life balance is key to minimizing stress levels and the risk of burnout. Nurses are capable of taking active steps toward maintaining a healthy work-life balance - even in today’s COVID-19-dominated world.
And don't forget to invest in reliable mental health resources. We put together a comprehensive guide to taking care of your mental and emotional health.
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