10 Tips for Balancing Life as an RN

10 Tips for Balancing Life as an RN
Last Updated:  |   Staff Writers |   Basics

Nursing is a rewarding, but incredibly demanding profession. One of the main things that new nurses struggle with is achieving an optimal work-life balance. All too often, nurses' careers consume them to the point that their home life and hobbies suffer. In turn, they start burning out on the job too, and their careers suffer for it as well. Avoid this vicious cycle by keeping the following 10 tips in mind.

  1. Simplify Your Life - There is only so much that one person can handle. The more cluttered and hectic your life and living environments are, the more difficult it will be for you to strike a suitable work-life balance. Look for areas in your life that can be simplified, and take steps to do so. For example, clear your home of clutter so that you have fewer belongings to worry about.
  2. Identify Your Major Stressors - It is natural to feel stressed out as a nurse. Rather than treating it like general stress, take the time to pinpoint the specific things that are causing you problems. For example, perhaps the route that you take to work is short, but jam-packed with traffic. Consider taking a longer, less stressful route. Maybe you work closely with someone who causes you problems. Speak to a manager about it.
  3. Ask For Help - Nurses tend to be overachievers. Often times, they put far too much pressure on themselves. If this sounds familiar, remember that there is no shame in asking for help from others. This applies just as much to your home life as to your professional life. Stop thinking that you must handle everything yourself and ask for help when it's needed.
  4. Prioritize Your Responsibilities - Before starting a nursing shift, it pays to prioritize the things that you must get done that day. Get into the habit of doing this, and start doing it for your home life and personal life too. Every day, jot down a list of the things that you absolutely must get done, and sort it in order of importance. This will help you feel like you have a lot more control, and life will be less stressful.
  5. Get Outside Every Day - As a busy nurse, it's easy to go from your home to your car to your job and back again without getting a breath of fresh air. However, a little sunshine and fresh air are often all that are needed to gain mental clarity. Even if it's just for five minutes, make a point of getting outside every day.
  6. Make Sleep A Priority - If you find yourself constantly trying to squeeze in naps, you probably need to work harder at sleeping well at night. Make getting a good night's sleep a priority by investing in blackout curtains for your bedroom. Wear earplugs or use a white noise machine to keep outside sounds from waking you up. When you are well rested, your life will feel more in balance.
  7. Keep Up With Your Hobbies And Pastimes - You may find yourself holding off on your usual pastimes and hobbies simply because you are too burned out from work and other responsibilities. However, this only makes things worse. It's important to keep having fun too, so carve out plenty of time each week for doing things that you enjoy.
  8. Be Proactive About Your Health - Nurses often focus so much on caring for others that they fail to care for themselves. At the first sign of a cold, extreme stress, or another issue, get the help you need. Whether it's a doctor's appointment, a massage, or a morning walk, don't forget to be kind to yourself too.
  9. Keep A Reasonable Work Schedule - Yes, it can be difficult to turn down extra work when it's available. Working long hours makes for great paychecks, but it wreaks havoc on work-life balance. Learn how to say no to extra shifts, and speak to your boss if you feel like your schedule is simply too much to handle.
  10. Leave Work At Work - This last tip isn't always easy to follow, but it will serve you well if you do. When you leave work at the end of your shift, leave all thoughts of it behind too. Try not to bring work issues and worries home with you. You can deal with them during your next shift. At home, focus on yourself and your family.

With a good work-life balance, you will be a better nurse and happier in general. Put the tips above to work for you to ensure the best experience working as a nurse as possible.

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