Nurses are one of the most sought-after professionals in the healthcare industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rise of the aging population results in an ever-higher demand for nurses. Unfortunately, part of the future aging population are the current nurses.
Thus, the overall labor force participation rate is expected to decrease by 61% in 2026. This will take a toll on the newer nurses as they have to face a higher number of patient-to-nurse ratio.
Nursing is one of the most stressful professions in the field of healthcare. Not being able to manage stress can be very expensive in the hospital setting as it results in tiredness, anxiety, short temper, and other negative health effects. Moreover, studies show that stress among nurses can cause depression, isolation, and a decrease in qualification.
While everyone agrees that achieving a good work-life balance is optimal in job performance, work life balance for nurses is difficult to achieve. This is due to high job demands, erratic schedules, and basically their altruistic nature—such that they find it hard to say “no” when someone needs their help.
As a nurse, poor work/life balance often leads to burnout and job dissatisfaction. In a study published in the journal Health Affiliation, the highest amount of stress and dissatisfaction came from nurses who were directly dealing with patients in the hospital and nursing home environment.
Many nursing staff have reported that aside from the work environment, staffing problems can also influence their burnout, which leads to the feeling of depletion of one’s physical and emotional resources. While nursing is a stressful profession, nursing work life balance can still be achieved. Below are 10 tips for these unsung heroes in the healthcare setting to achieve work life balance.
Tip #1: Accept things as they are
The first thing for nurses to do is to come to terms with stress. Acceptance is a good way to fight off stress. Acknowledge that there are certain things that you cannot change then develop your own coping strategies to address your feelings. Aside from accepting things that are beyond your control, embrace the things that are within your control–your feelings and attitude in particular.
While you want to be perfect in delivering healthcare services to your patient, mistakes can happen, and it is best to pick yourself up, admit your mistakes, and move on.
Tip #2: Define your purpose in life
Even nurses experience this crisis. While it is easy for other people to define your purpose–to help people get better, how do you define your purpose as a whole being? After all, you are not only a nurse. You can also be a parent, a child, or a friend. Ask yourself “Who do I want to be?” or “What contributions do I want to make in my lifetime?” Asking yourself these questions will make you understand what you need to do to achieve your inner goals.
Tip #3: Live a healthier life
A good work life balance of a nurse can be achieved if you live a healthier life. Do you exercise regularly or eat healthy foods? If not, then this is an area in your life that you need to improve on. By living a healthier life, you will have more energy not only in taking care of your patients but also in taking care of your family.
Tip #4: Simplify your life
Simplifying your life can be challenging especially if you are a nurse who needs to deal with many patients. But thanks to technology, you can use apps that can help you monitor and respond to your patients.
Tip #5: Time management
Many nurses find it difficult to practice effective time management because they have to take care of so many demands that are conflicting. When juggling work and life, what’s a nurse got to do? First, sit down with your partner and discuss relationship expectations. Look for areas where you need to set limits on your time and make sure that you stick by them. At work, set limits with patients while still showing empathy.
Tip #6: Deal with conflicts immediately
Strains in a relationship–both work and personal–can put a drain on your time and emotions. Make sure that you engage in necessary conversation to resolve conflicts. Never go to bed while the conflict is still there as it will make the problem even worse and you will have to deal with it the next day. This will take up a lot of your precious time that you could have spent with your loved ones.
Tip #7: Develop stronger relationships
Set regular times to get together with your family and friends. You can set your rest day as a time for family bonding. If you are too tired to go out, then at least designate a time when you have to eat meals together without fail. This will allow you to develop a stronger relationship with neglected family members.
Tip #8: Take in-between restorative breaks
Just because you are so busy taking care of sick people does not mean that you should not make yourself a priority. To maintain a nursing work life balance, create your own small “down” time at work by taking in-between restorative breaks throughout the day.
For instance, as you are rushing to your next patient, stand in the hall and inhale and exhale deeply. If you have time, do mindfulness meditation during lunchtime or when running an errand.
Tip #9: Exercise
Exercise is the cheapest and the most effective antidepressant. Look for ways to incorporate exercise into your day. Go for a 10-minute walk outside during your break. You can also use on-site facilities if they are available.
Tip #10: Get enough rest
Rest is very important to energize and revitalize one’s body. But if you had a very stressful day working in the hospital, you can put your mind at ease and coax it to dreamland by reflecting on the positive parts of your day. While you can remember having argued with a colleague today, remember the baby that you helped deliver. Recounting the positive things that happen in your day can promote a good night’s sleep.
Stress is something that is very difficult to avoid working as a nurse. But a good work life balance of a nurse is never impossible. All there is to it is for you to have the right attitude and mindset to make everything work.