Being a nurse is not an easy career choice—nurses typically face a host of pressures and challenges throughout their professional lives that the average worker never has to confront. The stresses of a job in which you’re constantly dealing with serious life and death issues, working in hectic and emotionally charged environments, and juggling the physical and mental demands of grueling work schedules make nursing a job that’s not for the faint of heart.
Nurses report that they consistently grapple with existential career issues like burnout and having non-existent work-life balance. With everything they have to deal with on a regular basis, is it any wonder that nurses sometimes find themselves struggling to maintain a healthy distinction between their time on and off the clock?
Imbalance can have a lasting impact on your happiness and well-being—on top of increasing the chances of suffering burnout and job fatigue, it can impact your ability to perform work tasks effectively, negatively affect both personal and professional relationships, and lead to a host of mental and physical issues including depression, anxiety, insomnia, and serious illness.
Be honest with yourself when determining how much time you need for your personal life, and draw a hard line so that your work doesn’t spill over on a consistent basis. (Yes, most of us have to deal with occasional late work nights, but that’s to be expected in today’s hectic work world.)
Are you sitting at home thinking about your next shift, replaying stressful work events in your head and dreading having to go back to work? It’s great to have time off work, but if you’re only using it to vent and fret about the job, then it’s wasted time that isn’t helping you maintain a healthy balance.
Instead, consider making healthy and productive use of your time in ways that have nothing to do with nursing. Do things you find enjoyable: spend quality time with friends and family, find a hobby that relaxes you, and challenge yourself in new and unexpected ways. The key is to find something that helps you stay grounded and sane when things at work get tough.
Important for nurses to find a trusted source of support who they can turn to, especially when things get intense. Nurses shouldn’t discount the value of venting their feelings when they’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed—it can be a great tool for getting a handle on your emotions on particularly stressful days. Someone who can help you do a “reality check” when you’re losing perspective can be an invaluable resource. Your support buddy can be a trusted friend, colleague, or even someone senior to you—as long as it’s someone whose opinion and viewpoint you trust and who is equipped to recognize when your work-life balance is going ‘off-kilter’.