A good work-life balance is important for every person in any type of career. Unfortunately, it’s especially hard for nurses to achieve due to the long shifts and emotionally taxing work. It’s hard to switch off after watching a long-time patient suffer or a family grieve. It’s even more difficult for ambitious nurses, as not only do they have their usual shifts to complete, but they also often have online classes or placements to attend.
As challenging as it might be to find that balance between your hard work as a nurse and your personal life, it’s important to do so. The consequences of not doing so include high levels of stress, mistakes made at work, and, ultimately, burnout. To avoid all of this, here is how to achieve a work-life balance, even as an ambitious nurse.
Study for Higher Qualifications Online
Many ambitious nurses seek out higher education. Whether you are looking into doing your master’s or doctorate or any other type of nursing course, try to find one that allows you to study online. There are plenty of universities that offer this option. If you want to study to become a family nurse practitioner, you can apply to online FNP certificate programs that will qualify you. By doing this, you won’t have to split your time between work and a classroom – you’ll be able to study during your breaks, on your commute, or from home. It makes balancing your obligations much simpler.
Say No When You Can’t Do a Task
As ambitious as you might be, you must learn to say no to your manager when you cannot do a task. That might be because you already have too much to do, or maybe you are not fully qualified to complete it yet. Either way, set strong boundaries so that you only take on what you can achieve.
Maintain Great Relationships at Work
Having good relationships at work helps the day run smoother. While you will still be at work, these relationships will ensure you don’t get too stressed – if you always have somebody to turn to, you are less likely to get overwhelmed. Plus, it’s easier to go for after-work drinks if you have nursing friends! It might be challenging getting all your non-nursing friends together after work. For the people you are already on a shift with, planning is simple.
Plan Relaxing Activities for Home
Many people try to achieve a work-life balance by filling their time off with fun activities. While it certainly is essential to have fun in your free time, relaxing is just as crucial. After all, as a nurse, you are likely already on your feet most of the time! If you have two days off, you could schedule something exciting one day, like shopping with friends or cooking for your family, and then use the next day for pure relaxation.
Always Take Your Breaks
Taking your breaks is a must. Getting into the habit of working through them won’t benefit your work at all – it will only make you more tired when you get home. The next time you consider skipping, remember how important breaks are and take at least ten minutes to decompress.
Work Closer to Home
Working closer to home isn’t always a viable option for nurses, but you should consider it if it’s doable for you. Not only does it mean less travel time, which means more time spent at home before and after shifts, but it also means that if you ever become sick or a home emergency occurs, you can get home as soon as possible.
Pursue a Hobby Unrelated to Healthcare
If your whole life is related to healthcare and helping others, you will likely become burned out quickly. No matter how compassionate and empathetic you are, it’s important to pursue an interest completely unrelated to your career. You might like cycling, painting, reading, archery – it doesn’t matter, what matters is that it fulfills you and takes you away from nursing.
Deal With Your Stress
Looking after yourself is a must as a nurse. You go through a lot during your shifts, from dealing with disruptive patients to watching patients suffer. That’s not even mentioning the endlessly lengthy shifts that nurses must get through. With all of this on your plate, you are likely to get stressed from time to time, and you must find ways to relieve it. Letting it build up won’t just result in more stress at work, but it’ll seep into your home life, too. To avoid this, recognize the signs of stress and seek professional help if it becomes overwhelming.
Keep Up with Friends and Family
Life as a nurse can become all-consuming to the point you shut out your family and friends, but that must be avoided. If you ever realize that you haven’t called your parents in a few weeks or you haven’t had a good catch-up with your friends in a few months, it’s time to schedule seeing the ones you love most. Keeping close ties to people outside of nursing will help you maintain a good work-life balance.
Make Your Journey More Enjoyable
A simple but effective way of making the most of your time away from work is by making your journey to work more enjoyable. If you take public transport, you could enjoy a nice cup of coffee while reading a chapter of a novel. If you drive to work, you could play an audiobook or your favorite tunes along the way. It’s all about making the most of the little moments.
Stay Passionate About Your Work
It is not always easy to stay passionate about something that you do every day, but you must find that passion again from time to time. When you are feeling overworked, overwhelmed, or like you need a break, try to remember why you started your journey toward being a nurse in the first place. Helping people is part of who you are, so let that drive you when you are on your shift, and you will enjoy your time away from work even more.
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