Work-Life Balance for Nurses

June 27, 2023
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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There’s every reason to become a nurse! It’s a service-oriented, engaging, and in-demand profession that allows you to be a force for good while making a great living. But any nurse can tell you it is also incredibly demanding.

Long hours, emotionally draining situations, limited staffing and resources, and demanding patients and families can all add up to make nursing burnout a real problem. That’s why a healthy work-life balance is crucial for nurses to understand, develop, and maintain.

You may have heard the term work-life balance used before, but if you have questions about what it is and how it can help you, the following guide can help.

What is work-life balance?

As the name suggests, work-life balance is simply the idea of striking a healthy balance between home and work. Of course, we all have to work, and everyone’s job has demands and challenges, but truly doing your best requires being well-rounded and healthy. This means having the time and energy outside of work to devote to things like family, friends, good nutrition, exercise, sleep, hobbies, and leisure activities.

Not only can an unhealthy work-life balance take away from your home life, but it can come back and negatively impact your performance at work in the long term. If someone is working too much or too stressed out when they get home, it can diminish sleep, nutrition, relationships, and overall mental health. This in turn makes you less able to fully function at work, creating a vicious cycle where work takes even more time and energy from your home life.

Why is work-life balance especially important for nurses?

Nursing is physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. Nurses in hospitals and nursing homes often work 12-hour shifts where they are on their feet and expected to perform physically strenuous tasks while helping people dealing with serious illnesses and conditions. Nurses’ work affects the health and quality of life of the patients they are helping, so there is enormous pressure not to make mistakes and maintain focus.

For nurses, work-life balance can be a notorious double-edged sword. The need to rest and recharge batteries between shifts is so critical, yet there is often less time and energy to do it. To maintain a healthy work-life balance, nurses need to find the right blend of essential health maintenance, self-care activities, and relationship building to keep them going.

5 Effective Tips To Help Nurses Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

1. Focus on the Fundamentals: Hydration, Nutrition, and Sleep

Even the most hard-working, dedicated nurses in the most high-stress work environments need to keep themselves healthy to maintain the basis of a work-life balance. If nothing else, or as a starting point, everyone should try these basics:

  • Drink enough water — experts recommend approximately 2.5 to 3.5 liters a day
  • Get enough sleep — preferably six to eight hours within 24 hours
  • Eat a healthy diet — and if lunch isn’t possible during a shift, try to at least get a healthy snack in

2. Build Support Networks With Friends and Family

A healthy home life means a network of people who understand and respect your needs. Make sure friends and family members understand the demands of your job and are there to support you. Scheduling social functions can be challenging for nurses and their schedules, but plan as much as possible and tell people your schedule so you can maintain as much of a fulfilling social life as you can.

3. Practice Positive and Life-Affirming Activities

You may have limited time and energy outside of work, so be thoughtful about what you do with your time. Ask yourself if certain activities bring you real joy and fulfillment or are actually draining energy. Fulfilling activities that help many people maintain a good work-life balance include:

  • Taking a walk outside in nature
  • Reading a good and uplifting book
  • Listening to calming, relaxing, energetic, or stimulating music
  • Meditating
  • Getting exercise, such as yoga or aerobics
  • Taking up a hobby like painting, knitting, collecting, or crafts

The right activities can vary, but the important thing is to find what works for you and make the time to make it a regular part of your life.

4. Establish Firm Boundaries With Your Employer

While there may only be so much flexibility regarding scheduling and company policy with an employer, nurses can still take steps to establish boundaries for a healthy work-life balance. First, it is important to understand what you are and aren’t obligated to do as part of your job role. If you are being asked to do something outside of the role and scope of your job, you should communicate that clearly to your supervisor or human resources department.

Additionally, if you feel you are being pressured into working more shifts or taking on more overtime than you are comfortable with or able to, you should communicate this as well. Even if an employer is dealing with a staffing shortage, it is still essential to take care of and value the nurses they do have — especially if they want to keep them on a long-term basis.

5. Find a Supportive Work Culture and Flexible Niche

If you find yourself in an environment and work culture that does not support a healthy work-life balance, it may be time to look elsewhere. When searching for a prospective employer, research their organizational culture and don’t be afraid to ask questions about their attitude on work-life balance. Look for companies that offer paid time off, and have plans to enable you to take it.

There are also specialties within nursing that can offer a better work-life balance and less stress compared to other areas. For example, working in an outpatient surgery center or doctor’s office can allow nurses to work a regular schedule with less stress.

Another opportunity is home health. Advantages of home health nursing from a work-life balance standpoint include:

  • More one-on-one patient interaction
  • More independence, with help and support still a phone call away
  • More flexible scheduling, allowing nurses to build a schedule around their life

In the end, for many nurses, positive work-life balance comes down to finding the balance and lifestyle best for their needs.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care

Our home health care nurses work one-on-one with clients in the comfort of their own homes. We are always looking for loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. We value our nurses’ health and well-being and understand your vital role in caring for our clients. PPE is provided in each home – including masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. We follow CDC guidelines to ensure you, your client, and your family stay healthy.

Applying for a position with Care Options for Kids is quick and simple. Our online application process is straightforward and effortless and eliminates the need to come into a local office. Our approach is virtual and can be completed at your convenience. Until you are ready to meet virtually with our Director of Nursing, your application, resumé, license, CPR card, and other credentials can all be quickly uploaded online. We make it as easy as possible to join our team. Call today at (888) 592-5855.