Work-Life Balance of Nurse - Does It Exist?

Nurses are responsible for taking care of patients, responding to their needs, and providing timely treatment, among other duties. But in all these activities, where does their personal life fit— this is the domain of work-life balance. 

It is becoming more and more important for nurses to achieve a work-life balance. A negative spill-over effect of one domain ‘work’ on another domain ‘life’ is what work-life balance is all about. The two should exist in equilibrium.

Why is attaining work-life balance challenging for nurses?

Nurses put the needs of their patients and work above everything. Their concern for others often infringe on their own life and manifests in the form of stress. Therefore, where you find work-life balance, there is often talk about the issue of burnout which happens due to undue stress, the emotional toll of the work, persistent sleep deprivation, long work hours, and more. Nurses are often the victim of workplace burnout due to chaotic shifts and ongoing exposure to death and trauma; ultimately, their work prevents them from attaining work-life harmony. Other issues reported due to overstress in nurses include absenteeism, turnover, and staff illness.

With nurses becoming more ambitious about their careers and improving their skills, work-life balance becomes even more complicated, for instance, for those enrolled in remote degree programs. Because, on top of everything, they have to fit in education in their busy schedule. They may be inclined to give their “Me” time to writing assignments, preparing for tests and exams, and more.

Institutions and workplaces need to work together to strike this balance as more nurses enroll in the online RN to BSN Program. The challenge is to fit your work, personal engagements, and education into your twenty-hour day. It might seem impossible to achieve a work-life balance; there are ways to attain it in your life as a nurse; here is how you can do it.

Come to terms with stress

The first thing you can do to strike a work-life balance is to accept the reality of your situation. A nurse’s work reality dictates that they will encounter stress every day. While we often try to suppress our stress, it results in negative consequences such as stress magnification, so acceptance is often healthier. You know that you will work in an environment where witnessing death is normal. Watching families wail for their patients is a routine, or not having a meal in peace is standard. 

While your compassionate nature might want to save everyone coming to the hospital, not skipping meals is often not in your hands. If you don’t get time to eat your food, you can turn to food rolls that you can bite into. Think about it this way; taking stress for something will make you more sloppy and prone to errors. So, it is better to practice brushing off matters beyond your control.

Take out time for yourself every week

Nurses work long hours, but it does not justify their inability to take out time for themselves. Even if it is impossible, as a nurse, you have to make sure to take a few hours to do things you like. 

For instance, you can take your pet for an evening walk, chat with your friends over the phone or a quick get-together around your favorite coffee table, shop your heart out, or perhaps lie cozily in your bed. These few hours can energize you for the whole week. Make sure it is time you look forward to having every week. When you do things you like, you feel knots of stress leaving your body and mind and lessening stiff body muscles.

Ask for help

Often we develop such lofty standards that bar us from asking for help even when we are at the edge of breaking apart. Even though it might seem like a matter of self-pride, it is not healthy for your body or mind. Rather than failing at your responsibilities due to being overwhelmed, ask for help. It might be that you are overwhelmed with more patients in the hospitals. It might be that you are failing miserably at your house chores: not finding time to cook, launder or clean the house; asking for assistance makes life much easier. Talk to your nurse manager about your issue and decide the best course of action together. Moreover, turn to your family, spouse, or kids to help you with house chores.

Take proper sleep

Nurses often lament about not being able to take proper sleep. But, adequate sleep is essential for everyone, including nurses. Chronic sleep deprivation can significantly impact your performance. Long work hours and stressful shifts at the hospital can create sleep irregularities in nurses, including a decline in mental function, decrease in immunologic function injury, heart disease, and higher rates of depression. It can also make you irritate, cause errors in judgment, fatigue, lack of decision making, and reduced concentration. 

You cannot perform well in your work and your personal life if you compromise your sleep for everything else. Learn to say no to commitments and turn down invitations if they interfere with your sleep schedule, especially after a hectic day at work. Sleep is like an energy drink for your body and mind; it energizes and vitalizes your body organs and prepares you for your job the next day. The work of a nurse does not allow them to have an erroneous judgment which often happens due to sleeplessness. A slight slip-up can be very costly for your patients and their families, the hospital, and your career. Therefore, always make sure to have at least 6 to 7 hours of sleep a day.

Conclusion

When you fail to achieve a work-life balance in your life, you are prone to feeling tired and depressed all the time. There is no space to tolerate error in a nurse’s job, but making mistakes is unavoidable if you don’t pay attention to your health and well-being. If you hear too many voices saying work-life balance is impossible in nursing, rest assured some have achieved stability in their personal and professional lives. That’s how they excelled in their life. 

Being neglectful of your comfort is not only detrimental for your health; it is quite risky for patients to be near a nurse who can’t concentrate or carry the baggage of their mental exhaustion. An unhealthy body and mind cannot make others healthy, so if you are passionate about your work, start taking care of yourself not to jeopardize the life of your patients.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide on How to Become a Nurse

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