How to Find Work-Life Balance as a Nurse

In early 2018, Health Leaders Media asked a big question, “Is Nurse Work-Life Balance a Myth?” The author defined the concept of work-life balance as an elusive mix of happiness and satisfaction carefully perched between family and home life. The article explored the idea that work-life balance for nurses may be like a unicorn because it simply doesn’t exist.

American Nurse Today says work-life balance is achievable but, “Many nurses have a hard time achieving this balance due to job demands, erratic work schedules, or inability to say no when someone asks for help.”

Let’s explore work-life balance to determine both what it is and how nurses can achieve it.

What Balance?

Interestingly, there is a website called WorkLife Balance that defines the concept as:

Meaningful daily achievement and enjoyment in each of my four life quadrants:
Work, Family, Friends, and Self.

The point, the website suggests, is that the balance we’re seeking doesn’t mean that we necessarily spend the same amount of time in each of the four quadrants, but that each one gives us satisfaction and enjoyment. 

But nurses can struggle to find balance when external or internal factors tip their lives toward overwork. This could lead to burnout and depression, and even make the person physically ill. So finding the balance again requires nurses to take a step back and consider the internal and external factors changing how we live our lives.

American Nurse Today has a list of activities and actions nurses can do to help regain what they’ve lost. Some of their suggestions include:

  • Reflecting on where the problem is.
    This may require the nurse to sit down with a spouse and discuss how the partner can step up to help. It may require a candid discussion with an employer to determine if too much overtime is creating job stress. Either way, understanding the problem requires self-reflection.
  • Better time management.
    Once the problem is identified, taking steps to better manage the time we spend on tasks, whether work or home, will help realign the balance you’re missing. Set time limits on activities by mapping out time-driven task lists. Align your priorities between work and home. Look for areas where delegation could help you achieve more balance.
  • Practice better self-care by taking some time off.
    52% of Americans have unused vacation time every year. Taking time off can create a sense of happiness that you might have been missing. If you can’t get away for a full week, make the most of your weekend by stretching a Friday and Monday into a four-day mini-holiday.
  • Consciously work to manage stress.
    Taking some time off will help bring work-related stress more under control. But it’s the little things, like getting more sleep and exercising, that can realign your work-life balance and reset your attitude about family and work responsibilities.
  • Consider per diem nursing to reset your workload.
    Per diem nursing can help nurses recover what they’ve lost when work-life balance disappears. Per diem nursing allows practitioners to work as much or as little as they like in any given week. Consider per diem nursing as a way to decrease the demands of a full-time role, while still bringing home a full-time paycheck.

Finding work-life balance requires pushing the reset button on a life that’s grown out of sync. Contact MAS Medical Staffing to talk about a new position that will put work-life balance back in perspective.

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