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7 Ways for Nurses to Achieve a Work-Life Balance

Nurses deal with serious medical emergencies, the death of patients and long exhausting hours. The demands of nursing can place a lot of strain on nurses. When nurses are under extreme pressure, burnout can occur. Thus, it is imperative that nurses learn to balance their work and personal life.

What is Work-Life Balance?

Work-life balance refers to a harmonious way of living that allows for integrating your professional and personal worlds.

What Causes Stress in the Workplace?

Nurses are pulled in many different directions. They have to multitask and communicate with numerous patients, coworkers and other healthcare professionals. Therefore, it is easy for nurses to become frustrated and bogged down with pressure. Some factors that contribute to stress for nurses include:

  • Understaffing
  • Lack of cooperation
  • Miscommunication
  • Incompetent management
  • No breaks or downtime

Work-life balance and maintaining health has become a prominent issue in the nursing world. The American Nurses Association launched a major initiative to help nurses take positive action in important areas such as sleep, nutrition and safety.

What are 7 Ways Nurses can Achieve a Work-Life Balance?

When nurses experience constant stress, it shows in their work. They can make medical errors that can endanger the lives of their patients, so they need to obtain a good work-life balance. Here are some suggestions.

  1. Invest in self-care.Nurses find it difficult to get enough sleep, eat well and exercise due to extended shifts and a busy agenda. According to the National Sleep Foundation, seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended for adults.Besides adequate rest, proper nutrition is important for keeping you from gaining weight and compromising your health. In addition to eating a healthy diet, staying active is key to lowering stress.

    Yes, you are moving around during your daily nursing routine but it is not the same as walking, running, biking, swimming or going to the gym. These activities get your heart rate up, boost your energy level and activate muscles you might not use at work.

  2. Set priorities.Do you need time to continue your education? Do you want more time with your spouse and children? Do you want to travel? You have to decide what is essential in your life and let go of anything that does not support your goals.
  3. Ask for help.If you find your responsibilities overwhelming, you might need to seek assistance. You can be overloaded with patients at work or unable to keep up with cleaning the house or cooking meals at home.You should not hesitate to speak to your nurse manager about work-related problems. Likewise, you may need your partner, spouse or children to pitch in with household chores.
  4. Develop lasting associations.Good relationships with your coworkers aid in supporting a peaceful work environment. At work, it is helpful to maintain your professionalism and address conflict in a respectful manner for a positive resolution. Do not jump to conclusions that can adversely impact communication and collaboration.
  5. Consider a realistic schedule.Think about which shifts best correspond to your personal life. While it might not always be possible, try to request shifts for the time of day you are most efficient.Some nurses work better at night and later hours allow them to be home when their children are not in school. Other nurses prefer the late afternoon shift because it lets them squeeze in more sleep or personal time.

    Then again, you might be a nurse who has the most energy in the early morning and likes having afternoons free. Be realistic about the number of hours you can handle and be up front if you cannot take on extra shifts.

  6. Learn to say no. Give yourself permission to turn down invitations or commitments that will keep you from enjoying leisure time.
  7. Have fun.Do what makes you happy.

Overworked nurses are at risk for fatigue that can lead to burnout. They can jeopardize the health of patients, as well as possibly damage their own mental and physical well-being. By practicing good time-management, nurses can secure some space in their schedules for rejuvenation and relaxation.

Learn more about Northeastern State University’s online RN to BSN program.


American Mobile: 12 Steps to Nurses’ Work-Life Balance

American Nurse Today: Achieving a Work-Life Balance

National Sleep Foundation: How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

RN Network: Seven Ways Nurses Can Have a Better Work/Life Balance

American Journal of Nursing: Striving for Work-Life Balance

Scrubs: The #1 Stressful Thing About Being a Nurse

Working Nurse: Work & Life Balance: A Nurse’s Impossible Dream?

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