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Balance For Today’s Nurse – At Work and Home
Stress happens and nurses are certainly not immune. Working twelve-hour shifts and running a household can take its toll. If are constantly on-the-go, it can lead to burnout. Self-care, and finding the right balance between work and home may be a constant juggle. Learning to avoid burnout and manage stress will help you balance the many roles you fill inside and outside of the workplace. These tips can help you balance it all.
With patient demands and heavy workloads, nurses tend to put themselves last. Nurses come home from work mentally and physically drained. Taking care of yourself is crucial. You must be intentional in fitting self-care into your life in order to be your very best.
Tips for Self-Care
- Nutrition – Eat something nutritious before work. Focus on complex carbohydrates and lean proteins. Pack your lunch with easy to eat foods, and avoid ordering out or going to the cafeteria.
- Exercise – Nurses lack time to workout before their shift, and many are too tired after work. Make exercise a priority on your day off. On work days, add a few minutes of yoga before bed to calm your mind and stretch your body.
- Sleep – Before a busy twelve-hour shift, the priority should be sleeping. With weekend requirements, nurses might have trouble sticking to the recommended eight hours of sleep. Create a schedule and stick with it. Make it a habit to only go out on your weekends off.
Balance at Work
Creating work-life boundaries can be a challenge. Family members may still need you when you are at work and work tends to need you when you are home. Here are few tips to create work-life balance.
Tips for Work Balance
- Get to Work Early – If work starts at 0700, don’t show up at 0659. Try to arrive 15 minutes before your shift to get prepared.
- Leave Work at Work – As a nurse, you will connect with your patients. Some moments impact nurses for a lifetime, but it’s important to let those moments be moments. Avoid calling work when you’re home or texting coworkers on your day off.
- Don’t Work too Much – Working too much will lead to burnout. Some departments require on-call time and mandate overtime, but try to keep this to a minimum. Money may motivate you to pick up extra shifts. Be sure not to waste personal happiness and time by over-committing.
Balance at Home
Your days off may be filled with childcare. The flexibility of being a nurse allows you to be a part-time stay at home parent too. Balance at home is just as important as balance at work.
Tips for Home Balance
- Limit Children’s Activities – Tell your kids they can only participate in one sport at a time. This will limit missed games and parent-volunteer opportunities and keep the guilty moments to a minimum.
- Meal Plan – Have your family help with meal planning. Print a blank calendar and conduct a family meeting, allowing everyone to request their favorite meals for dinner. Check out Pinterest or sites like, Emeals.com for inspiration. At the end of the family meeting, you will have meals planned for an entire month!
- Divide Housework – Nurses are great delegators at work. Why not try it out at home too? Delegate chores. If your children are old enough, have them help clean the house. If you have a spouse, talk to them about fair division of labor for household tasks. If all else fails, spoil yourself with a cleaning service.
Tips are great! But, even these great tips may have you questioning, “How can I do all this?” It comes down to one word, organization. Use these tools to help you become more organized in life!
Tools to help nurses balance their life and work:
- Calendars – My family likes to use Google Calendars. We share our calendars with each other. I have a “kids” calendar, a “work” calendar, and a “personal” calendar. My husband has his calendar too. We can pull up the calendar and everything syncs.
- To-do Lists – Make a to-do list first by writing down every task that’s on your mind. Then, look at it again and pick your top 3 for the day. Tackle those tasks. You will feel more accomplished if you get your top 3 done.
- Sunday Folder – This concept will help you batch your tasks. Gather your mail for the week and put it in the Sunday folder. Sunday night go through that folder, pay bills, and add important dates to your calendar.
Nurses hold many responsibilities at work and home. Do the best you can. Start by implementing a few of these tips, and add more as your schedule allows. This will help you to de-stress and establish balance in work and life.