Working as a nurse is never easy. You get shifts that are 12 hours long. You miss holidays and important family occasions. You don’t get to spend as much time as you want with your friends. You don’t get a time out for yourself.
The importance of having a balanced work and life is often overlooked when you’re a nurse because of the demands of the job. However, aside from its effect on your personal and social relationships, failure to meet work-life balance can also jeopardize the quality of care you deliver.
If you are struggling with these issues, here are 3 things you can do to get the best out of work and life.
1. Set limitations
You don’t always have to say “yes”, particularly if you really mean “no”. Taking too much work than you can handle is one of the most common reasons why burn out happens and why there are a lot of unhappy nurses.
If you have a prior commitment or you have an appointment with your child, you always have the option to decline the extra shift. You don’t have to be a superman at work, too. There are a lot of people who can help you out if you just delegate properly.
“The other day, I missed one of my child’s school activities because a co-nurse asked me to cover her shift for her. I felt bad for myself the entire shift because my co-nurse was able to attend her friend’s wedding while I get to miss my child’s event. I think my patients sensed that I was not that working great that day, ” a new ward nurse shared.
Aside from these things, you also need to be honest with yourself about how much you can take and communicate them to your nurse managers. Although they may find it hard to give you the schedule you want because of staffing issues, they can at least lift some of your workload while you work on yourself.
2. Find a down time for yourself
During your day off, it’s important that you spend it on something you really enjoy. You should basically do activities that will keep your mind off of your caregiving duties. These downtime activities, however, should still be mentally stimulating so you can decompress and destress.
You can work out, go window-shopping or just spend the entire day relaxing and pampering yourself at home. You can take a short walk or engage in a conversation with some of your neighbors.
Although it’s easy for your family and friends to assume that you’ll be spending your day off with them, it’s important for you to remember that you also have to take a day off for yourself. It’ll give you time to re-energize your body and refresh your mind.
3. Catch up with your household chores
As much as possible, avoid letting your household chores pile up. They can only make you feel more stressed and frustrated.
Instead of spending the entire day for yourself, you’ll be pressured to spend your day off cleaning your home, doing your laundry and running important errands. At the end of the day, you’ll feel more exhausted than energized and it can show when you get back to work the next day. The longer you keep repeating this kind of set up, the more burnout you’ll get both from work and home.
You can delegate household chores to your spouse or kids. If there’s no one to help you out, do your household chores intermittently.
“I try to schedule activities and stick with them. If it’s time to do my laundry, I really try to finish it on time after I clock out from work. This gives me enough time to go out with friends during my day off,” an ER nurse said.
How do you balance work and life? What are your ways of making sure you don’t experience burn out?