20 Steps for Mastering Work Life Balance as a Nurse

20 STEPS FOR MASTERING WORK LIFE BALANCE AS A NURSEMaintaining a work-life balance can be difficult for many people, but especially those who work in nursing. With the long, changing shifts and the intensity of the job, it can become difficult to spare enough time for yourself. If you’re not careful, you’ll find your nursing life seeping into your home life, which isn’t healthy for anyone.

If you feel like your whole life revolves around your work as a nurse, then read on for 20 tips for mastering work-life balance.

1: Create a Schedule

It is difficult to manage your time when you can’t even see where any of it is going. Instead of spending your weeks letting the days play out as they will, you should make a schedule and stick to it.

By writing a plan for each day, you will see how much time you have to spare. If you’re working from 1pm until 10pm, for example, you know you have 15 hours to eat, sleep, travel to work, do your chores, and relax. Create a schedule that allows all of that, ensuring you fit everything you need to do into your day.

2: Study Online

Many nurses study alongside their work, especially if they’re working their way up to a leadership role. In this situation, it is wise to choose an online course rather than one in person. This is because you’ll have a much easier time fitting your studies around work when you can do it all online.

Fortunately, there are plenty of online nursing courses out there, including FNP masters of science degrees. By studying online, you can choose when you study, freeing up more time for much-needed relaxation. After all, you’re more likely to succeed in your studies if you are well rested!

3: Learn to Say ‘No’

Nurses often get tired, but many are also determined. If you find you struggle to say ‘no’ to people, then you must work on this.

If your manager asks you for overtime too often, it’s OK to let them know! If you are overly stressed, then your work performance will suffer, so it’s better for everyone for you to get the relaxation you need.

The same goes for your friends who ask for mid-week drinks. While it might be tempting to let loose after a 12-hour shift, sometimes, your body needs rest more than it does a party. By saying no more often, you save your energy for your days off!

4: Always Take Your Lunch Break

Many people are guilty of forgetting to take their lunch break – don’t be one of them. Unless it’s an emergency, no matter how busy you are, you must always take your breaks. Cramming a sandwich into your mouth and sitting down for 5 minutes doesn’t count!

Breaks are important; they allow you time to rejuvenate, so you are better prepared for work when you go back. If you fail to take them, your focus and performance will suffer.

5: Look After Your Health

Your precious time away from work should be spent in good health, so you must look after it. This means eating well, getting enough sleep each night, and fitting in exercise. If you let your health slide, then your home life will suffer along with your work, as you won’t be able to properly enjoy your time.

6: Find a Hobby

No matter how passionate about nursing you are, to keep a work-life balance, you should find a separate hobby. It doesn’t have to be something you’re talented at or even something that takes up much time – all that matters is that you enjoy it.

Whether you want to get into cycling or painting, make sure you make time for your hobby away from work. It means that your thoughts aren’t all about nursing, giving you an identity away from your patient’s bedside.

7: Always Keep a Book on You

If you struggle to slot in time to yourself throughout the day, then keep a book on you at all times. By doing so, you always have something other than nursing to dive into. It doesn’t matter if you’re on your lunch break, traveling to work, or have a spare 2 minutes between patients; the ability to read something will give you that much-needed break from reality.

8: Make Time for Friends and Family

As a nurse, making time for friends and family is easier said than done. When you’re working shifts that don’t match the usual 9 until 5, it is difficult to arrange a time to hang out. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, however, and you must make sure you fit the ones you love into your schedule.

While messaging and phoning is a great way of keeping in touch, sometimes it’s necessary to see them in real life. If you have a spare afternoon or morning, call someone you know and arrange a coffee date. It’s the little moments like these that help give you a fulfilled life away from the workplace.

9: Make the Most Out of Technology

When it comes to organizing your time, technology is your friend. There are plenty of phone apps out there that can help you gain control of your life, from fitness plans to meditation guidance. Meditation in particular is an excellent way of clearing your mind and giving you a fresh perspective. It is especially helpful when you are overwhelmed, as it allows the negativity brooding in your mind to melt away.

Your phone is a passageway to the whole world. Whenever you are feeling stressed out over work, allow it to take you someplace else. On a smartphone, you can read books, watch movies, and listen to podcasts. With so much entertainment on one small device, you always have an escape when life becomes too crowded.

10: Learn to Fall Asleep Faster

Many peoples struggle to fall asleep quickly, and those moments tossing and turning can quickly eat away at the precious hours in your day. While it is easier said than done, learning to fall asleep quickly is a beneficial skill for anyone, but especially those who are trying to regain their work-life balance.

Have a look around for techniques for falling asleep faster. If you find you are struggling, then consider some over the counter herbal remedies. Chamomile tea works a treat, too!

11: Make a Cleaning Schedule

Cleaning is one thing that can take away time from your home life, but if it doesn’t get done, then your time spent at home suffers. To avoid this, create a cleaning schedule to keep on top of everything in a timely fashion. Make it slot around your shifts nicely, so you don’t have to get home from work and instantly start sweeping the floors and vacuuming the stairs.

12: Avoid Making Half Promises

When trying to get your work-life balance back, you might find you start saying yes to more activities outside work, but you should avoid doing this if you don’t have the time. When you don’t know if you can fully commit, it is only a half promise. Not only will this disappoint your friends, but the weight of all your obligations will sit in your mind, taking away your ability to relax.

Make sure when you say ‘yes’ to something that you have the time and are fully prepared to commit to it. Remember, time to yourself is just as important as time spent with others!

13: Write To-Do Lists

Having too much to do without knowing where to begin will make you worry about when you should be resting at home. To avoid this, get into the habit of creating to-do lists, even for the small things.

If you know you have a bunch of errands to run one weekend, write them all down before starting them. This way, you’ll feel more in control of what you need to do, and will most likely get them done quicker, allowing more time to relax once they’re finished.

14: Start Batch Cooking

While cooking is a great activity to enjoy at home, when you’re working long shifts, sometimes it’s better to have something quick to give you more time to relax or enjoy a hobby in the evening. An easy way of doing this without constantly ordering in is to learn some batch cooking recipes.

Simply cook up a large amount of food and put it in the freezer for a busy day. This way, when you get home from a long shift, you don’t have to worry about spending an hour or so cooking. Plus, there are plenty of healthy recipes out there to give you all the nutrients you need to stay healthy!

15: Don’t Ignore Sickness

A little sniffle isn’t something to worry over, but if you begin feeling ill, then it’s important to give yourself time to get better. By going to work, not only do you run the risk of spreading it to your co-workers and patients, but you will also prolong the illness itself.

When you are ill, don’t ignore it. Give yourself time off work and allow yourself to stay in bed all day until it passes. You might feel restless when you’re so used to working often, but it is better to put your and others' health first. This way, you won’t prolong your illness, allowing you to get back to your healthy self and enjoy your time at home without feeling awful.

16: Simplify Your Home Life

If you want to make the most out of your home life, you should simplify it. That means de-cluttering, making your space easy to clean, and creating some fun activities that aren’t too strenuous or require too much thought. If your home life is full of mayhem, then you simply won’t have the time to relax! It’s not always easy to simplify your home or your life, but by doing the best you can, you will feel much freer.

17: Don’t Let Conflicts Fester

One of the worst things you can do for your home and work life is letting conflicts fester. When you butt heads with someone, your stress levels rise, which is something you want to avoid. Instead of letting it brew for a long period, you should address conflict head-on and reach a conclusion before it starts interfering with your happiness.

18: Wake Up Early

If the first thought you have in the morning is how quickly you need to get ready to get to work on time, then you’re doing it wrong. Your morning should be filled with peace, relaxation, and a healthy breakfast.

It might be a struggle at first, but getting into the habit of waking up early will benefit your home life. It means that your focus every morning isn’t solely on work – it’s also about how you are feeling. Set your alarm a few hours earlier and indulge in the bliss of time alone.

19: Make Friends with Co-Workers

Nursing is a stressful job, and on the days where you feel like you cannot go on, you need co-workers to help push you through. By making strong bonds with other nurses, you allow yourself some form of relief on the harder days.

Another great reason to make friends with your nursing co-workers is the ease of after-work drinks or food! During the middle of the week, it’s difficult to schedule time with friends who work different shifts, but your fellow nurses will be right there with you.

20: Give Yourself as Much Care as You Give Patients

When it comes to a work-life balance, caring for yourself is important. Think about how much energy, care, and attention you give your patients every shift, and then give yourself the same amount.

Working as a nurse while trying to keep a positive, fulfilling home life isn’t always simple. It’s easy to become engrossed in your job, especially when it’s as emotionally involved as nursing, but it’s crucial to look after yourself as much as you do others. So, keep your relationships strong, stay healthy, and enjoy your time away from nursing.


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