7 Steps to a Healthier Work-Life Balance for Nurses
As a busy nurse, I often find it challenging to maintain a sense of healthy work-life balance. Sometimes I find myself running from task to task, taking care of everyone around me, only to get home and do more of the same. Not only that, but when I eventually get home I might be so tired that all of my self-care ideas go right out the window. Work can have a way of taking over and things like pleasure, social life, hobbies, and health are often forgotten about by nurses.
How can an active nurse overcome these challenges? What can you do if you feel that sense of “All I do is work”? I’d like to share with you some strategies I use to “Tip the Scales” in your favor, so to speak, to create a life of health and work-life balance.
Here is the process I use and recommend for nurses to create a healthy balance:
- Take stock of your current situation. I use a tool that I created; the Living Sublime Wellness Wheel of Balance. There are many variations of this, but I’ve added in many more “pie pieces” then any model I’ve seen. Using this tool, you can evaluate where you focus your time and energy. The wheel makes you aware of what parts of your life are in and out of balance. Its simplicity makes it easy to use while giving you a nice visualization of your current status.
- Be honest with yourself. The tool shows you visually which areas you pay less attention to. Now you must be honest with your thoughts, feelings, and reactions to its picture. Do you want to spend more time in certain areas? If so, why? What fears or discomforts are you avoiding? If you are able to pay more attention to the areas which are lacking, how and when would you start? What excites you about the potential of working with new areas of nursing wellness? Be honest with your intentions and if you are able to spend time balancing your lifestyle.
- Start where your energy takes you. You may look at your balance wheel and find there are several areas that could use more attention. Realistically, you are not going to start working in all of the areas at once. We just don’t have time for that! So where are you being pulled? What are you feeling drawn to first? Notice where your energy is taking you and begin with those areas. It will be easier and more fun to give attention to those areas your energy is being called to.
- Create a plan and get organized. Starting to pay more attention to new areas of your life isn’t going to happen magically. You’ll need to schedule time in for new things; otherwise they won’t get done. Focusing more on the less tended to areas of your life will take some getting used to. You will have to create a plan and stick to it. Change does not occur overnight.
- Reach out for support. Do not do this alone. Making changes is never easy. Rather than struggling and failing, why not ask loved ones, nursing colleagues, or even professionals for help? It will make changing a behavior that much easier bringing your whole being into better balance.
- Do all things in moderation. You may notice you thrive in one area of your life while another one is severely lacking. Well, how much time do you spend on the thing that is going well? Be honest. Maybe things are going so well in some areas, and not in others, because you spend all of your effort, time, and energy focused in one realm of your being. All things should be done in moderation or else we become unbalanced and one-sided.
- Have fun. If balancing life to maintain health starts to feel like work, stop worrying about it. You are doing this to be a healthy and whole nurse, not to add more “chores” to your plate. Find fun in new experiences. Have a good time trying out other areas of well-being. Do things with gratitude, courage, and joy. Know that in the grand scheme of things if you are more balanced and well-rounded, the healthier you will be. Have a good time with it!
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