Nursing can be a stressful profession. Running between patients, pulling weekend shifts, and ensuring all the patient data gets entered on time can take a toll on you. It can also become highly aggravating when dealing with complex patients and families unwilling to cooperate. Despite nursing being a noble and selfless job, the long working hours can seep into your personal life, giving you less time to relax.
When you come home exhausted, it can strain your relationships. Your partner may see less of you, and even your children may not get your attention. In addition, the hobbies you enjoy doing may also end up getting neglected. Therefore, you must find a delicate balance between your work and life. To reclaim your life and fill it with kindness and warmth, here’s what you need to do:
1. Take Charge of Your Environment
The primary reason nursing is so tricky is the patient-to-nurse ratio. There are far too many cases and few nurses to manage them.
To be an effective leader, you must have strong organizational skills. However, once you take on more senior positions, such as becoming a chief nursing officer, you can fix the operational aspect of nursing departments. You can create better budgets and more realistic schedules and hire more nurses to divide the workload further.
Unless necessary, you will not have to pull extra shifts. As a result, you get space to breathe, think and have time for yourself. The only catch is to pursue such a high-level field in nursing. You have to obtain a post-graduate degree. But this is easily achievable online without going back to school full time.
2. Get Coping Mechanisms
When you feel highly stressed, anxious, or angry, you need coping mechanisms. These methods can help you calm down, subside the feeling of dread and prevent intense emotion from accumulating. You can feel nervous or angry if you’re dealing with a complex case, a patient who constantly disrespects you, and a heavy work schedule. In all these cases, you need to find ways to locate your center and stabilize yourself. Your coping mechanism can be unique. For some, it’s taking a few minutes to breathe deeply; others prefer humming a song or going for a run.
It would help if you learned what makes you feel relaxed. You can try carrying a stress ball with you and squeezing this tiny ball between your palms to release tension. If you have time between shifts, you may plug in your earphones and listen to music or play light music in your office to allow the melody to carry you away.
3. Establish Boundaries
Boundaries are necessary while you’re at work and home. This tells the people around you that your personal space cannot get disrespected and you’re not a pushover. While you’re at work, don’t let your coworkers bully you into taking care of their work. If they’re harassing you, make sure you talk to the relevant authority. When you finish for the day, switch off your gadgets and let your coworkers know that you’ll be resting unless it’s an emergency not to contact you. It will help if you delegate time to answer emails and messages instead of tending to them at the expense of your downtime.
If you’re with your family, try limiting attending work calls and messages and dedicate some time with them. This can prevent feelings of resentment and anger from building between you and your loved ones. You can also establish a timetable with a reliable coworker. If you’re working in a team, adjust the number of cases each worker has to handle and if you need time off from work, let them know beforehand. If you take time off, help your coworker or cover for them by taking over their shift to maintain a workload balance.
4. Build a Healthy Routine
A healthy routine encompasses your life outside of work and when you’re on the clock. While it’s understandable that you may have to pull longer shifts and stay back for the weekend when you’re not working and get a chance to go home, try sticking to a realistic schedule. The habits you develop will help you compartmentalize time for yourself without neglecting your work.
You should strive to get at least six hours of sleep if you can’t rest for eight. It will help you immensely if you look into getting house help, such as a cleaner or a babysitter. But, if you cannot afford it, you may want to talk to your family. Even if you have a partner, there’s only so much they can do before they also start feeling stressed by the increased workload.
Prepare for work beforehand by going over your emails easily in the morning and getting ready for your shift. If you leave tasks at the last minute, you can prolong your deadlines. While you’re at work, try squeezing in time to rest and take frequent naps. You may want to keep yourself hydrated and if you feel slammed at work, ask for help. You can also start meal prepping at home or choose healthier food options instead of conventional fast food. This helps you get the necessary nutrients and not empty calories.
5. Make Time for Yourself
Making time for yourself is choosing to have fun and relax by doing activities you love. You can treat yourself to a spa day, hang out with friends, and go to a bar if you’re not working the next day. Indulge in your hobbies no matter what they are, such as skating, painting, music, and dancing.
Meditation can also make a list to help you unwind for the day. When logged off from work, make sure you keep your mind entirely clear from thinking about your responsibilities. This allows you to stay level-headed, prevents anxiety, and lets you enjoy the moment. Make your day off into a family day and visit your parents or take your children out. The bottom line is to have fun and let yourself loose.
Nursing is a demanding job with long working hours and little rest. However, it would help if you found ways to reclaim your life or end up completely immersed in work. What you’re doing is selfless and incredibly humbling, but learn to extend the same courtesy of showing compassion to yourself. A healthy work-life is balanced thoroughly. If you have the opportunity, strive for more advanced leadership positions that allow you to control your work environment.
Try to find a routine that works for you. The essential features should allow you to relax at home and make work manageable. Finally, when you give yourself downtime, enjoy it thoroughly. Learn to switch off from your career and live in the moment where you’re just you and not a nurse.
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