This post was most recently updated on July 25th, 2023
Work-life imbalance is a universal cry in almost every profession, but the consequences are grave for frontline workers like nurses and paramedics. The entirety of their 24 hours revolves around patients, no matter how much they endeavor to strike a balance. They can hardly spare time for family life and commitments outside hospitals.
Many commit to extra hours to meet their ends, while others have strict working conditions.
The burden of the increasing population, growing health issues, occupational burnout, inadequate healthcare support, and non-inclusive healthcare infrastructure create more challenges for lower-level healthcare workers.
But regardless, work takes a toll on their well-being. Not many can deliver their services efficiently. And the consequences are more than the loss of productivity. Overburdened nursing staff increases risks to patients’ well-being than relieving their sufferings. Their inefficiency is one of the leading reasons why healthcare infrastructure stretches beyond capacity.
In addition, work and life imbalance are also responsible for their burnout, absenteeism, and more burden on healthcare infrastructure and expenditure. For this reason, we’ll share some work-life balance tips for nurses to maintain their health.
1. Practice a realistic attitude
After taking professional oaths, healthcare workers find themselves responsible for everyone. They presume to liberate everyone from suffering right from the get-go. As a result, they commit themselves to their professions, leaving behind their personal lives, families, and other responsibilities.
They cannot turn away from an emergency case even when their shift concludes but invest their energies over time.
Overwork is a routine practice for almost every healthcare worker, including nurses. But it’s a flawed mindset that fails them in the long run. That’s why hospitals have hundreds of healthcare workers to share and accommodate the workload. You are only responsible for your share of the work. So, give as much as you can, and do not overstep your boundaries.
Most importantly, if you’re pursuing education alongside work, discuss it with your supervisors to avoid being assigned extra work or overtime. Or better, opt for online education since it offers flexibility to manage work and studies simultaneously. This way, you won’t have to compromise on your academics or employment and ensure you avoid burnout.
What’s best is that regardless of your domain, you can find online programs catering to every nursing specialization. For instance, if you’re seeking to specialize in the family nurse practitioner (FNP) domain, you can enroll in MSN FNP online programs.
2. Commit to manageable working hours
Healthcare is a demanding profession. But working conditions have improved to accommodate a flexible schedule for workers. Healthcare administrators realize the importance of nurses’ health and well-being as much as the demands of relief seekers.
The increasing incidence of mental and physical health issues in healthcare workers further highlights their plights. Given this reason, hospitals cannot help but operate as per standard working protocols to ensure their nursing staff does not exhaust and endeavor beyond their working potential.
Administrators rotate their workers in multiple shifts throughout 24 hours window, where each work shift spans less than the typical twelve hours shifts. Workers can choose whether morning, evening, or night suits their working style.
3. Establish clear demarcation in work and personal life
Work in the healthcare profession can be emotionally overwhelming at times. One cannot help but waver when seeing someone suffer and grieve. You want to share their grief and offer them a shoulder. But you cannot personalize work by committing to a single patient.
Everyone needs your help and attention, so you must manage your responsibilities and time accordingly. Engage with patients only within professional boundaries and schedules. It’s not fruitful to associate with them or their families beyond their well-being concerns. Their expectations will only multiply and aggregate if you water their hopes in vain.
Hence, confine their access and conversation to your workplace, professional assistance, and patient’s well-being. Do not promise them benefits, relaxations, and outcomes in a personal favor. Practice amicable and professional behavior, listen to their concerns, and show empathy but within professional limits.
4. Cope with stress
The demanding nursing occupation affects the health and well-being of nurses, which in turn affects their efficiency, mental and physical health, and caregiving services. Work-related stress is the leading cause of work-life imbalance for the nursing staff.
Even when they get off work early, all they think about is their patients, self-associated blunders, pending orders, and next-day assignments. Off-duty hours pass within blinks without liberating their minds and bodies from routine work exhaustion. But one cannot go on such a wobbling attitude in a toiling profession like the healthcare sector.
That is why more and more healthcare workers are becoming victims of mental health issues. Depression (19%) and inadequate sleep (47%) were common mental health problems for healthcare workers even in the pre-pandemic timespan.
The recent pandemic was only a key to Pandora’s box. So, nurses must learn to exercise control over their nerves and behaviors, no matter the situation. Coping with stress and anxiety is crucial to preventing the repercussions of impaired decision-making and blunders while administering and nursing patients.
5. Enjoy life outside the workplace
Life outside your workplace is valuable and concerning as much as your patients and professional commitments. Your children, family members, friends, and relatives need your presence and participation in activities, events, and occasions as much as you commit to your patients.
A healthy family system and a peaceful home environment are crucial to better productivity and professional success. And the same goes for professional life. So, you cannot corner yourself to a specific extreme but invest your time justifiably.
Occasional lapses in commitments in either domain of your life are okay but do not become inflexible with yourself and family members while fulfilling your professional responsibilities. Enjoy life outside the hospital, and attend family occasions and gatherings with friends.
A healthy work-life balance is essential for nurses to enjoy life outside their workplaces. If they fail to maintain their well-being, it will eventually affect their work productivity and patient health.
So, practicing a healthy, well-planned, and sustainable lifestyle is vital to set an example for patients. Nurses should prioritize their well-being by limiting work burdens, setting boundaries, and practicing realistic attitudes.