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Nursing5 Effective Work-Life Balance Tips For Nurses

The work-life balance is a phrase you will more than likely have heard before, but do you know what it actually means? It can be hard to define, as it will mean something different to each person, but in essence, the work-life balance is a way of living and working in harmony with both sides of your life. Your work won’t interfere with your home life and vice versa, plus, you’ll be able to enjoy both without being stressed out about the other.

As you can see, when it comes to achieving a good work-life balance – something we’re told is good for our mental health and something that makes life more enjoyable – it might not be that easy, and for nurses, it can be extremely challenging. This is down to a number of reasons, including shiftwork (meaning that it’s hard to get into a routine), long hours, and the mental and physical strains of the job.

However, it’s crucial that you do what you can to achieve a good work-life balance because it really will make a difference in your life. You’ll be at much less risk of burnout, you’ll see positives in what you’re doing, and you’ll be a better nurse and friend or family member. Although it can definitely be hard to switch off from work, if you have some plans in place to help you, it does become easier. With that in mind, here are some useful work-life balance tips for nurses that should help you achieve your ultimate goals. Read on to find out more.

Practice Effective Time Management

One of the reasons why a good work-life balance may not be possible when you’re a nurse (or at least may not feel possible) is that it is a highly fast-paced environment. This will mean that there is a lot to do and often not enough time to get it done in, and a nurse will need to work on multiple tasks at once. This is exhausting and somewhat chaotic, and it can mean that nurses work longer than they should or at least work harder than they need to. In the end, there is not much time to relax once the shift is over, and therefore not much time for the life part of the work-life balance. When work takes up more time and energy than everything else, there is an issue, and you’re not balancing effectively.

The best way to get around this is to decide on the most effective way of working for you. Although some nurses’ tasks will be emergencies and you won’t be able to account for them, there will also be routine tasks that you can list out in order of priority and ensure you get them done not just in order but in good time too. This will leave you with time to fit in the emergencies without having to rush around, and it will leave you with time to spare – in most cases – which will enable you to do as much as you can in terms of enjoying a home life.

Making a to-do list and, trying to stick to it as much as you can, adhering to a timetable for your work means that you can probably do a lot more than you think. You should even be able to find the time to work on your DNP course to ensure your career advances, and you can have an even better work-life balance.

If time management still seems like something that you won’t be able to do, don’t worry – here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Get to your shift early. You don’t have to get there too early (or this will defeat the object of a work-life balance), but around ten minutes should work well. In this way, you can organize your day before your shift even begins, helping you to start the way you mean to go on by completing handovers and reading patient charts.
  • When you write your detailed plan, make sure everything that has a time attached to it – such as giving medication or prepping patients for surgery, for example – and fit everything else that has to be done into your schedule around these immovable points.
  • Make sure you schedule breaks as well as work. Otherwise you’ll get tired, and your energy levels will drop, and you simply won’t be as productive. At this point, your to-do list might become difficult to achieve.

Invest In Self-Care

When you are a nurse, you are sure to be focused on everyone else. It’s not only your job, but it’s highly likely to be your nature, too – you are genuinely a caring person who puts others first, whether they are your patients, your colleagues, or your friends and family. However, if you want to have a good work-life balance, you need to make sure you invest in self-care as well. This is not something you should ever consider to be selfish or self-indulgent; the more you take care of yourself, the better you can take care of everyone else, as you will be one hundred percent happy and healthy. Besides that, self-care is never selfish; everyone, even those who don’t have as challenging a role as a nurse, can appreciate the good taking care of themselves does.

We often hear the term self-care, just as we often hear the term work-life balance, and again, it might not mean a lot to everyone. The media has portrayed self-care as a spa day or shopping spree and similar, and although for some people that will be how they like to spend their time and it does make them feel better, it won’t be the same for everyone. For some, self-care is simply taking the time to read a good book or listen to music. It might be going out in the backyard and breathing in the fresh air or going for a walk in the woods. It might be doing art or even doing nothing at all. What self-care really means is that you do something that means you can take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health in whatever what works for you.

If you’re not sure where to start, think about what causes you the most trouble when it comes to preventing a good work-life balance. Many nurses find they feel guilty when they are doing anything other than taking care of a patient, for example, because their nursing skills and way of life are so ingrained. This can make them feel as though they shouldn’t don’t have any downtime, and they, therefore, don’t enjoy the free time they have. They’ll often work overtime to make up for the guilt, and the cycle gets worse and worse.

The first step to getting past this guilt is to come up with some ways to cope with it. There will be times when things happen at work as a nurse that are out of your control, and that includes your need to have downtime. Coming up with coping strategies will help you feel better (if this is hard, speak to other nurses or find a mentor; they will have their own ideas about what to do).

Another issue is that you might find it hard to say no when someone asks you to do something. It’s good to want to help as many people as possible – this might even be why you became a nurse – but there has to be a limit, and if you truly can’t do something, you’ll need to learn to say no. This is especially important if you are agreeing to do more work is eating into your leisure time and interfering with your having a good work-life balance. You’ll need to make a judgment call about when you say no and when you say yes.

Make Time For Exercise

When you’re trying to come up with the ideal work-life balance, exercise may not feature. For many nurses, after working a long shift, they won’t feel like exercising – they’ll want to rest, and this does make sense. However, the benefits of regular exercise are well known, and if you are able to do just a little a few times a week (ideally every day, but this can be hard to manage), you’ll feel the benefits. One of the most important reasons to exercise (other than the physical health benefits, of course) is that it will help to clear your mind and allow you to release any build-up of stress that might otherwise make you feel irritable, unable to sleep, and generally lethargic. The more exercise you can do, the more you will benefit, and the better your work-life balance will be.

In other words, exercise is the ideal way to detach yourself from your nurse persona and put you back in your personal life – you can think of it as a link between the two, and as you exercise, you’ll move further away from work and close towards your home life and whatever it is you want to do there.

Try to exercise at least three times a week if you can’t do it every day. The more you can exercise, even if it’s just for ten minutes, you’ll find you are better able to switch off from work and are more present whether you are working or at home, thus giving you a good work-life balance.

Re-Evaluate Your Diet

Nurses work long days, and their shift patterns can be irregular. It’s little wonder, then, that their eating habits can be quite poor. It’s ironic that a healthcare professional might exist on sugary snacks and microwave processed food, but often this seems to be the best option; something is better than nothing when it comes to eating.

This is true to some extent – something is better than nothing. However, too much of the wrong food can make you as sick as not eating enough, so you must be very careful. Take a look at your current diet; can you improve it? Are you eating enough? Too much (or too much of the wrong food)? What can be changed?

The issue is that your physical health will clearly suffer if you don’t eat the right food and if you skip meals. However, your physical, mental and emotional health can suffer if you eat the wrong foods or too much of them. Does it feel as though you can’t win when you’re a nurse? Don’t worry; there are options.

The first and perhaps easiest way to get around this issue is to batch cook. When you have time off, and you’re cooking yourself or your family food, make more than you actually need. Freeze the extra food, and then take it in small portions to work with you. You’ll always have nutritious food with you, and you won’t have to resort to takeout or other unhealthy options. Pretty much everything you make at home can be treated in this way, although it’s best to do some research about freezing and defrosting some items, such as rice, to ensure you don’t make yourself sick.

It’s also important not to miss out on meals. You might be exhausted when you get some from a shift and just want to go straight to bed, but unless you eat first and replace your body’s vitamins and minerals, you’ll wake up feeling lethargic and sluggish, and your head won’t be clear. You might even feel physically unwell, thanks to headaches and aching muscles. Therefore, no matter how tired you are, try to eat something. The same goes for before a shift; never go to work on an empty stomach, even if you only manage a slice of toast or a smoothie.

Don’t Spend All Day On Your Phone

When you do have time to yourself, do you spend a lot of that time on your phone, scrolling through your social media feeds? Many people do, especially when they don’t get a chance to do it during their working day because they are so busy. There is a ‘fear of missing out’ involved, but the problem is that spending too much time on your phone is not a good way to get a work-life balance.

There is nothing wrong with catching up on what you’ve missed during your shift, but once you’ve done that, put the phone away – too much smartphone use can cause bad posture, problems with your eyesight, and induce stress and anxiety. If you want your downtime to be as enjoyable and relaxing as possible, the phone shouldn’t be part of it.

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Digital Health Buzz!

Digital Health Buzz!

Digital Health Buzz! aims to be the destination of choice when it comes to what’s happening in the digital health world. We are not about news and views, but informative articles and thoughts to apply in your business.

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