Nurse, Treat Thyself: The Importance of Work-life Balance

If you can’t get into the swing of work-life balance - even when your employer encourages personal days and down time - you aren’t alone.

A survey of more than 1,000 full-time workers (23 percent who worked in healthcare) found that 33 percent aren’t comfortable taking vacations or personal days, according to The Wall Street Journal. The number is even lower in healthcare. Only 10 percent of women working in healthcare are very satisfied with their work-life balance, and 45 percent say they make weekly decisions that place their jobs and families at odds, reported

This group has a very difficult time putting themselves first,” Quint Studer, founder and CEO of the Studer Group of Gulf Breeze, Florida, told while discussing tips on work-life balance. 

One reason he cited is employees think company’s talk about work-life balance is insincere, as evidenced by chief executives and leaders who consistently put work before personal considerations.

That’s not healthy. Nurses who lack work-life balance find the condition zaps concentration, fuels depression, and harms personal and professional relationships. Long-term stress weakens immune systems and can cause everything from head colds to heart disease, according to Mental Health America.

Consider these work life balance ideas to boost the harmony in your world:

Don’t set unrealistic goals.

Checking off the items on your daily “to do” list gives you a sense of accomplishment and control, noted Mental Health America. The more control you have over your work, the less stress you may feel. Make a “to do” list and take care of important tasks early.

Enjoy the small things in your work.

Completing a well-received presentation, celebrating a patient’s milestone or mastering a new skill are among the accomplishments that can enrich your life. Appreciate those events and relish the positives that come from such work, noted Advance Healthcare Network for Nurses.

Invest in your own health.

It’s easy to disregard your own health as you care for others. Exercise, eat healthy foods, and otherwise take care of your body, advised American Mobile. “You cannot inhale your McDonald’s at the nurse’s station and sit and drink soft drinks all day long and think your body is going to reward you for that behavior,” Sharon Weinstein, MS, RN, told American Mobile. “Your body will retaliate.” 

Embrace technology.

Many think technology causes work-life imbalances but it can help ease it, too, Weinstein said. Find the applications and technology that can help you streamline your work and can be synced across multiple devices. For example, save online clippings of interesting journal articles in Evernote and keep up with your to-do list for work and family using Remember the Milk. Or try Focus@Will, a streaming music service that claims to “help you focus, reduce distractions, maintain your productivity and retain information when working and studying”.

Learn to say “no.”

Sometimes you just can’t take on a new project, attend a meeting or train a new colleague without upending your life. “’No’ can be a complete sentence,” said Weinstein.

Reach out for support.

Registered nurses are trained to be self-sufficient, and that quality can seep into every aspect of their lives. Turn to colleagues, families, and friends for support. Also, join peer associations and support groups to help you sort out work-life balance, advised Careers In Nursing.

Remember, you can’t care for your patients, family or friends unless you care for yourself first. Use these and other work-life balance tips to boost your physical, mental and spiritual health.