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5 Tips for a Healthy Work/Life Balance as a Nurse

5 Tips for a Healthy Work/Life Balance as a Nurse

Beginning a career as a nurse is an exciting time. Putting all your freshly learnt knowledge to the test, helping those in need and the excitement of your first overnight shift is all part of the experience. However, once you’ve been a nurse for a while, striving for a healthy work/life balance can be challenging.

Whether it’s picking up extra shifts, working long hours of overtime, or not taking breaks, it’s no wonder frontline workers are burnt out and exhausted, impacting not only their work but their home lives too. Here are our top tips on how you can achieve a positive work/life balance as a nurse.

Tip #1: Set priorities

No matter whether you’re at home or work, setting priorities and organising everything you want to achieve from highest priority to lowest priority can help put things into perspective. When you have a list, you’re more likely to not feel as flustered as if you were working off the top of your head. Visualising what you need to do may also help. Another thing to do is choose your top three or five non-negotiables for the day and make sure you get them done. For example, if it’s your day off your top three non-negotiables might be:

  1. Go for a walk
  2. Put on a load of washing
  3. Meet mum for lunch

At work they might look something like:

  1. Make sure to take breaks for water
  2. Ask three new questions
  3. Finish patient reports

Flagging these as top priorities mean you’re more likely to remember them than if they weren’t.

Tip #2: Get enough rest

As a nurse, you shouldn’t need to be told the importance of what a good night’s sleep does for your mind and body. Rest is very important to energize and revitalise your body – especially when it comes time to wind down and de-stress from the day. Rest doesn’t always necessarily refer to sleep though. Making sure you’re taking breaks during the day where you can – even if it’s just for a quick drink of water – can help reset the body and mind. Other things you can do include taking a few deep breaths before you see your next patient, getting outdoors on breaks where you can and taking leave you’re entitled to. Overworking yourself and pushing yourself to your absolute limit can lead to burnout – which is defined as a state of continual physical and mental exhaustion.

Tip #3: Know your limits and learn how to say no

For a lot of nurses – especially new ones – saying ‘no’ isn’t something you feel you can do. You want to seem eager to learn, helpful and up for anything. Getting into a mindset of always saying yes is a habit you don’t necessarily want to find yourself in. While you may see it as a positive trait, your colleagues will soon learn you won’t say no and will load you up with tasks, extra shifts and other demands that will soon run you into the ground. Give yourself permission to turn down invitations or commitments that will keep you from enjoying leisure time. If you’ve planned to see a friend during your day off, don’t accept a shift. If you’ve been cleared to leave early to get to an appointment, politely let your boss know if they ask you to stay back. Work can wait – your body needs time to rest. If you find it difficult saying no, speaking to a career counselor, or speak to someone you trust for some pointers. You can start with something small and work your way up to bigger things if you need to.

Tip #4: Indulge in self-care frequently

When was the last time you treated yourself to a nice meal, pamper day, or buying something you’ve had your eye on for ages? There are so many ways to practice self-care to ensure your brain is taking a break from stressors at work and outside of work. Even simple things like scheduling an hour of screen-free time where you read a book or meditate can do wonders. Not everyone practices self-care the same, so experiment with different things and find out what works for you.

Exercise is one great way to indulge in self-care and provides a range of health benefits for your mind and body. Often as frontline workers, it can feel difficult to join a gym with working random hours. Do some research and see if there’s a 24-hour gym near you or schedule some time into your day to move your body – whether that’s a walk, run, ride, or swim, the options are endless!

Tip #5: Speak up and ask for help

Mental health is important and one thing we as humans don’t do enough is speak up and ask for help when we need it. Trying to find the perfect work/life balance can be tricky, but it’s important to reach out if you’re struggling.

Working on the frontline can also impose many stressors including situations that others not in the profession wouldn’t understand. Seeing sick and even dying patients as well as being exposed to other emotionally draining circumstances can really take its toll. Talk to family and friends as well as colleagues who will understand what you’re going through. If you feel you need extra support, you can always reach out to your doctor, or other support services like Lifeline and Beyond Blue.

As a nurse working on the frontline, you often are exposed to some difficult situations to navigate – especially if you’ve never worked in a field like it before! Keeping up with and adjusting to shift work is a big challenge, as well as taking everything you learnt at university and applying it to real-life scenarios. Often when we are confronted with stressful situations, we forget to look after ourselves and our work/life balance can suffer.

At Entire Workwear, we’ve got the work side of work/life balance covered with scrubs and healthcare uniforms for everyone! Jump online or head into your closest stockist to find your new pair today.

9th Jul 2022 BIZCARE

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