How to Find Work-Life Balance As a Nurse

Author: Coast Medical Service

Posted: August 20, 2019

Life Balance

Nurse Wearing Mask

Nurses who work in hospitals understand that they are pursuing a rewarding career through which they help patients in need day after day. On any given shift, the routine work of distributing medications and checking vital signs might be interrupted in the blink of an eye by a life-or-death emergency. Like all hospital staff, registered nurses must be highly trained, empathetic professionals who can handle the stress of working in an environment that takes an emotional toll on everyone.

Despite their capacity to manage a hectic medical crisis or to console a scared young patient in a quieter moment, nurses are not invincible. They are people like everyone else. With the nurse-to-patient ratio rising every year and the erratic scheduling, workplace stress, and increased patient demands that go along with that new reality, even the most resilient RN can feel like it’s all too much. Without a proper work-life balance, nurses can suffer from burnout and dissatisfaction in the job-conditions that affect not only their professional performance but also their personal lives.

Achieving a work-life balance requires the ability not only to assess your needs and vulnerabilities but also to develop strategies to address your needs and to stick with your new mindful routine.

1) Accept That Which You Cannot Change

Gauging the likelihood of an outcome is a skill that medical professionals develop through experience. As a nurse, you have to recognize that there are facets of your profession that you cannot change-from conflicts arising out of generational issues to inadequate staffing to heightened expectations generated by healthcare reform. Factors like these are a part of the job and, as such, are aspects of your reality that you can’t change. When you acknowledge these immutable facts, you can keep these challenges from adding to your stress and, instead, focus on areas in which you can be of indispensable assistance.

2) Change What You Can

Equally important as acknowledging the elements of your job that you have no control over is pinpointing those aspects that can be made more manageable. A nurse’s work-life balance can be improved by addressing key areas of their professional and personal lives.

On the Job

  • Make the most of your free time-Eat lunch outside or spend your break walking laps around the building. If your hospital has a gym, log a mile on the treadmill while you’re getting caught up on a patient’s history. Claiming these small windows of time for yourself will help chip away at the stress you’re feeling.
  • Take a moment-Before walking into the next examination room, calm your thoughts and refresh yourself with a few deeps breaths. Letting go of stress means that you can face the next patient with a clear head and a better attitude.
  • Conflict Management-Effort towards conflict resolution quickly so resentments don’t fester and poison your work relationships. In the often frantic environment of a hospital, you depend on your coworkers a great deal, so any conflicts need to be addressed in a timely manner.
  • Use technology-Applications and advanced computer programs are transforming the medical field. Master those that your hospital employs. This new technology will allow you to quickly respond to a patient or coworker and save yourself the time and energy when a face-to-face consultation isn’t necessary or practical.

Off the Clock

Women Doing Yoga

  • Take your own advice-You’re always telling your patients that a good way to feel better and prevent sickness is to exercise and eat better, so lead by example and make your physical health a strong foundation. Activities like yoga and meditation can also be hugely beneficial for your physical and mental health.
  • Time management-Sit down, determine realistic expectations for your time, and stick with those limits that you’ve set for yourself. Your job demands a lot of your time, so devote the time you’re not in scrubs to things that help you (working out), prepare you (getting enough sleep), and make you happy.
  • Strengthen your relationships-Your friends and family away from work are the people who are going to be key to your nursing work-life balance. They will hold you accountable to expectations you’ve set and be the people you can lean on during the tough times. Make time for these people and enlist them in your efforts to stay balanced.
  • Get some Zs-Making the most of the time away from work to recharge is vital to preventing burnout. Sleep is the most important part of recovering from a stressful shift. Difficulty sleeping may indicate you need to focus on your overall well-being, including diet, exercise, and managing stress.

3) Take More Control of Your Work Schedule

Another step you can take to improve your work-life balance as a nurse is to control more aspects of your work schedule-which days, what times, and where you’re working.

At Coast Medical Service, you are given the freedom to choose your shifts and locations nationwide. Coast has built professional relationships with hospitals across the country since 1979 with the goal of making sure those locations are staffed with qualified, hard-working nurses any time they have a nurse staffing need.

By connecting with Coast, your needs and wants are just as important as the skills that you have, and we work tirelessly to match you up with jobs that fit your preferences. If you’d like to learn more, reach out to us today.

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