Finding a balance between work and life is important in any profession. Nurses, however, work long hours and have some of the most stressful jobs, which is why it is so important to find that balance.
As a nurse, you may give a lot of yourself to your profession. You may feel that you never have time to exercise or do laundry. You may love your job and your family, but you seem to neglect your own self-care. These are all examples of a lack of work-life balance. As a nurse, it can be exceptionally difficult to achieve this balance. Without the proper balance, it can be more difficult to be the parent, spouse, employee, or friend that you want to be. As the old adage goes, “You can not pour from an empty cup.”
Here are 4 areas of focus to help you achieve balance between the professional and personal parts of your life.
- Define your goals and purpose. Don’t limit to yourself to the here and now. Think big! Ask yourself, who do you want to be? What contributions do you want to make? It’s helpful to create SMART goals. These are goals that are Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Once you have defined some of your goals, it will be easier to see what your priorities are. From there, you can adjust your schedule accordingly to achieve those goals. Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself or do things you haven’t done before. If these new actions help you lead the life you envision, that’s great!
- Simplify. Once you have looked at the big picture, it’s time to come back down and look at the building blocks. At the end of the day, extra work is extra work. Write down your values and newly defined goals, and prioritize them. Now, take a look at all the other things you’re working on—these are your distractions. Simplify, and see what you can do to reduce or eliminate these distractions.
- Reduce stress. As you simplify your life, you may identify major stressors. You may be able to simplify your life enough to eliminate these stressors. More often than not, you may be able to reduce the stressor, but you may not be able to get rid it entirely. Take on a positive attitude and look at the stressor with fresh eyes. A positive attitude can work wonders for all tasks. For deeper stress relief, start practicing meditation, breathing techniques, or yoga.
- Get (and stay!) healthy. If you’re having difficulty sleeping at night or feeling lethargic, it could be attributed to unhealthy diet, exercise, or sleep habits. Ultimately, being healthy is part of a strong foundation for finding work-life balance. Ask yourself one question: do your habits help you, or do they hinder you? (Take our quiz to find out if your diet is stressing you out.)
Technology can be a wonderful tool in finding work-life balance. There are a plethora of mobile applications for organizing your time and priorities. LastPass consolidates all your passwords. EverNote is a great note-taking application. DropBox can help with file and photo storage. Although many of these applications may be useful, we do understand that smartphones can be overwhelming at times. If you need to turn your smartphone off for a few hours a day to achieve balance, then do it.
Work-life balance is unique to each individual’s goals. What may seem balanced to one person may in fact seem unbalanced to another. Define your goals and balance your time between the areas of life that you want to concentrate on most. And one other thing—it’s okay to say “no.” It’s okay to say “no” to new projects, social gatherings, or other events. Remember that you can’t be the best version of yourself if you are tired, drained, and unbalanced.
Food for Thought
When a person walks along a tightrope, how often do they have to find their balance? If you answered the entire time, then you would be right. Finding balance in real life is very similar. You may have it one week and lose it the next. Continue to assess where your time is going and make adjustments as you go along. You’ll be happy that you did.