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An Important Balancing Act

Created Oct 09 2018, 12:27 PM by Lippincott Solutions
  • healthy work environment
  • burnout
  • stress reduction
  • nurse fatigue
  • ANA

According to the ANA’s Health Risk Appraisal, nurses often are more stressed and get considerably less sleep than typical Americans. With the rigorous physical and emotional demands of the profession, it’s important to ensure proper work-life balance to prevent caregiver fatigue and nursing ‘burnout' from occurring.   

Work-life balance means combining work and leisure time into balance to live life to its fullest. It doesn't mean that you spend half of your life working and half of it playing; instead, it means balancing the two to achieve harmony in physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

You're a great nurse on your unit, but do you ever have time to exercise? Are you able to do the volunteer work that you enjoy? Achieving a work-life balance is difficult, but necessary. Without it, nurses risk long-term negative effects on their physical and mental health, relationships, and work performance. But many nurses have a hard time achieving this balance due to job demands and erratic work schedules.

Can nurses achieve work-life balance? Although doing so may be difficult, the consequences to health can be enormous if you don't try.

Time Management

Align your priorities and values between home and work. Look for areas where you should set limits and boundaries on your time—both at home and at work—and stick to them. At home, sit down with your family members to discuss and negotiate relationship expectations.

At work, plan your day as efficiently as possible. Set limits with patients while still conveying empathy and instilling their confidence in your care. Seek mentors who practice good time management and ask for their advice and guidance. Acknowledge that you’re doing your best, and trust and allow others to do their job.

Practice Self-Care

Below is a list of 8 recommended guidelines for maintaining and improving your work-life balance:

  1. Learn to say “no.”  You can’t do everything. Sometimes you just need to let someone know that you’re not available to take on a new project or attend another meeting.
  1. Let technology help you. Find the applications and computer programs, or other technology that can help you streamline your to-do list.
  1. Examine your habits. Do your habits help you, or hinder you? Believe in the power of positive thinking. If you have a positive attitude, it will get you through the challenges.
  1. Make yourself a priority by practicing good self-care. Build downtime into your schedule and take restorative breaks throughout the day.
  1. Make sleep a priority. If you can’t get a full night’s sleep, take short naps.
  1. Identify more ways to integrate exercise into your day. Exercise is the cheapest and best antidepressant. Go for a 10-minute walk outside the clinic or hospital. Purchase exercise equipment for your home or use onsite facilities if they’re available. Get a partner for workouts, running, or other activities.
  1. Improve your nutrition by sitting down to breakfast, taking a break for lunch, bringing healthy snacks to work, and being there for family dinners.
  1. Take care of yourself mentally and emotionally. Acknowledge losses and give yourself permission to grieve. Identify workplace and personal challenges that create stress and develop an action plan for addressing or coping with them. Set realistic goals for stress management and update them as needed, either alone or with a coach, therapist, friend, or partner.

Without balance, you may be harming yourself and others, including your family, friends, and patients. The balancing act needs to include time carved out specifically for your needs.

How do you maintain work-life balance? Leave us a comment!

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