It is not easy being a nurse. The shifts are often long, and the nature of the job is physically demanding. But above that, it can be draining to watch people suffer, face death, and manage the emotional toll of it all. And so, nurses need to maintain a healthy work-life balance. So, regardless of how dedicated you are, there will be days when you need a break – and that’s ok.
Here are some tried-and-true tips for you to achieve work/life balance to avoid burnout:
1- Set Priorities
Being a nurse can be a 24/7 job, particularly if you’re in one of the more specialized areas, such as the ICU or ER. So, it’s normal for you to live days without having family mealtime or an extra hour in bed. That’s why you must set your priorities.
It will help you stay focused and organized, allowing you to better care of yourself and your patients. You can schedule your time and tasks and stick to them.
Sometimes, it also helps to be assertive about what you do and don’t want to do at work. If you have a prior commitment and you’ve informed your supervisor, don’t let anyone guilt-trip you into staying.
2- Strive to be Better
You know the healthcare industry changes all the time. So, stay on top of the new developments in your field. It’ll make you more competent and marketable. But, more importantly, you’ll be more satisfied with your job.
When you are confident in your skill and appreciate your efforts, your motivation increases by leaps and bounds.
So, pursue an advanced degree like a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or an online doctor of nursing practice (DNP) to hone your skills and expertise.
You can also get certified in a specialty or attend seminars and conferences to stay up-to-date with new practices and techniques.
3- Take Time Off
It can be easy to forget you have a life outside of nursing. But that’s precisely why you should take some time off now and then. It lets your body and mind de-stress, so you can return to work refreshed and energized.
So, take a few days off each month or take an extended break once a year. And make the most of it.
Head to the beach, go on a road trip with friends or plan a staycation in your city. Visiting different places will give you something to look forward to. You can also utilize your time off to take up a hobby or explore your interest. How about cooking, playing an instrument, or joining a dance class?
4- Make Your Life Easier
Technology, if used correctly, can be a blessing.
It can help you stay organized and make life easier by streamlining your tasks and reducing paperwork.
For example, you can use electronic health records (EHRs) to store patient information instead of relying on paper charts. Similarly, you can use medication management software to prevent errors and monitor patient safety.
Some other beneficial tools are voice recognition software and automated dispensing cabinets. They not only make your job more efficient, but they can also help you save time for yourself.
5- Accept What You Can’t Change
As a nurse, you will be exposed to a range of situations that may make it difficult for you to stay relaxed. Maybe you’ll witness a traumatic event or be faced with death. Try to keep your emotions in check and accept what you can’t change.
If your mental health is affected, seek professional help. You can also talk to a colleague or friend who can provide a listening ear and advice. It’ll also help to practice mindfulness techniques such as yoga or meditation.
6- Deal with Conflicts Immediately
No one likes carrying luggage from the past. So, learn to deal with conflicts promptly. Don’t let your disagreements linger and fester into resentment.
You may have to face disagreements with colleagues, supervisors, or patients at the workplace. Try to listen and understand the other person’s point of view before responding.
If your personal life is affected, don’t bring that to work with you. Instead, talk to your family or friends and resolve the conflict amicably.
7- Say Yes to Help
We make certain relationships in life that help us improve and grow. Your colleagues, supervisors, and mentors can be a great source of guidance and support at work.
Never hesitate to ask for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed or stuck. It’s perfectly normal to reach out and build a network of people who are willing to lend a hand.
The same applies to home life as well. Involve your family and friends in decision-making regarding your career and life.
It’s essential to build a support system of people who can understand your needs and wants. After all, you can’t do it all on your own.
8- Set Realistic Goals for Self
Nurses have an aura of super-human strength and resilience. But don’t forget that you, too, need to take care of your health, mind, and body.
Set realistic goals for yourself and prioritize the tasks that are important to you. Don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t turn out as planned. After all, you can’t control everything.
Take time to reflect on your successes and failures so that you can build upon them in the future.
9- Make Sleep and Exercise a Priority
Exercise and sleep are essential for your physical and mental health. When you’re not sleeping or exercising enough, it affects your ability to concentrate and be productive.
So, ensure you get 7 hours of sleep every night and fit in some physical activity during the day. It can be anything from running, swimming, or playing tennis to walking around the neighborhood.
Having a balanced diet is also essential to keep your energy levels up. Eating right is also beneficial for your mental health.
As a nurse, you have an empathetic nature and considerable responsibility. But, above all else, remember that you have to care for yourself too. So, create boundaries for yourself and learn to say no when necessary.
It’s ok if you need a break or some time off; you’ll be a better nurse for it. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and find time away from your career as a nurse so that you can keep a healthy work-life balance.
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