When it comes to a physically and emotionally taxing job role like nursing, it is important to take care not to overwork yourself. Caring for others may come naturally for working nurses, but taking the time to look after your own health may not be second nature. The life of a nurse can involve high levels of mental stress, physical exhaustion, and overall burnout – something you want to avoid. After all, you need to make sure you are in top condition in order to provide excellent care for patients. Personal care is crucial for a healthy work life balance, and it includes looking after your physical, mental, and emotional health. Here is a guide to help nurses maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Prioritize Your Personal Needs
With commitments at home and a hectic work schedule, it can be easy to overlook your own personal care. This is especially true if you find yourself constantly exhausted and lacking the energy to address your personal needs. However, it is essential to make yourself a priority and take the time to recoup and relax. This could include making fun plans with family, treating yourself to a nice meal, and catching up with old friends. Alternatively, R and R could simply be taking the time to do absolutely nothing, except perhaps running a soothing bath and watching reruns of your favorite show.
Set Clear Work Boundaries
Setting boundaries between work and your personal life is key to a healthy work/life balance. To distinguish these two important aspects of your life, you should try to stick to the perimeters you set yourself at work. For example, if you know you need some ‘me time’ one particular week, and you have already decided that you are not going to stay late, stick to your decision. Recognize your limits, and don’t be afraid to put yourself first. Additionally, if you need to work from home, set yourself a clear schedule and muscle up the willpower to stop at the designated time.
Create Space to Relax at Home
A great way to help you relax is to designate a space at home where you can kick back and relax. If you have a spare bedroom gathering dust, empty it out and transform it into your own relaxation retreat. Having your own little oasis to return to after a long shift will remind you to take some time to rest and destress. The room doesn’t have to be fancy, simply clear out the clutter, paint it in calming tones and add items that make you feel good. If playing the guitar and listening to some tunes is your way to mellow out, turn your space into a music room. Alternatively, you can keep it open and free so that it can be used for different activities. This can include reading a book, practicing yoga, or simply getting some peace and quiet from the family for half an hour or so.
Pursue a Hobby
In a caring role that demands a lot from you mentally and physically, it is a good idea to participate in activities that are not related to your job. Pursuing a hobby that you enjoy provides busy people with a healthy outlet. Although it may seem counterintuitive to add more to your plate, doing something you love can keep your spirits high and improve your productivity and work ethic. Not to mention, a hobby will help you manage your time better, and you will find yourself structuring your time more efficiently in order to do the thing you love. People who schedule in time to undertake an activity they enjoy have something to look forward to when work, or their personal life, gets stressful. It is a great way to nurture your creativity, engage your brain and enrich your life.
Build a Support System
Human beings are naturally social creatures. As a dedicated nurse, you are used to providing care to others, but it is healthy to be able to ask for and accept the same treatment from others in return. Although you may not think you need help, a little support from the people around you can prevent excess stress and emotional and physical exhaustion from bringing you down.
Good Work Relationships
Establishing good work relationships can help you build trust with your colleagues and superiors. It will also give you someone to turn to when you are faced with a challenge. They can also provide you with an alternate perspective in difficult work situations. Not to mention, good communication with your team will help increase the chances of getting assigned suitable shifts. It may also give you exposure to new opportunities and help you expand your career.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
When providing patient care in a healthcare or medical setting, you need to be able to work in a team. Nursing isn’t about caring for your patient by yourself. Optimal patient care involves a strong nursing team and a collaboration of other healthcare professionals. You can strengthen your team by keeping an open dialogue at work and maintaining honest relationships. By developing trust within your team, you can all benefit from a shared sense of accountability and responsibility for patients. Not only will a great team result in well-coordinated care and better patient outcomes, but it will also improve your team’s job satisfaction. In turn, this will reduce work-induced anxiety and stress and decrease the chance of burnout.
Communicate Freely at Home
Good communication is vital if you want to maintain a healthy home and work life balance. Not only should you keep your family in the loop when things go well at work, but you also need to be able to turn to them during the hard times too. Although you may want to keep work issues to yourself, a problem shared is a problem halved. Simply speaking about your worries can make you feel a lot better about a situation. Your family may not be able to solve your work issues, but they can help you out by taking on some of your responsibilities at home while you try to cope with your problem. Opening up to your family will also give them a heads up if you are late from work or if you seem distant. Your family can also help keep you on track with your goals and give your mood a boost when you are feeling down.
Keep in Touch With Friends
A lot of nurses are subject to long hours, unexpected shifts and unpredictable schedules. Balancing work commitments with family life is tough, but trying to catch up with friends, who also have busy schedules, can seem impossible. However, maintaining a social life outside of work and keeping in touch with old friends is important for your mental health. Speaking to friends about a topic other than family or work can be refreshing, while doing it over a fun activity can make you feel invigorated afterward. Stop your friendships from losing their spark by clueing your friends in on your schedule. By keeping them in the loop, you can try to work around your busy schedules and pinpoint a date to make plans. Not to mention, keeping in contact with friends and telling them about your shift changes will help them understand why you can’t return calls or reply to messages straight away.
Look After Your Physical Health
It is just as important for healthcare professionals to stay in good physical condition as it is for them to advise their patients to look after their own physical health. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight are both necessary, as is looking after themselves during a shift. This can include staying hydrated at work, going to the bathroom when needed, and eating nourishing meals.
Eat Nutritious Food
With a heavy workload and a physically demanding job, nurses need to nourish their bodies with nutritious food. Although fast food and packaged meals may seem like a time-saving option, they are often processed and filled with excess salt. Instead, a balanced diet of wholesome foods can decrease stress levels and give you more energy to tackle a long shift.
Make Quality Sleep a Priority
Not only can a good night’s sleep do wonders for your mental well-being, such as relieving stress and helping you control your emotions. It can also have a significant impact on your physical well-being. Healthy adults need six to nine hours of quality sleep every night in order to function properly. It can be difficult to establish a good bedtime routine if you have an unpredictable schedule. However, you can achieve better sleep by reducing screen time to a minimum before bed and doing something relaxing instead. Reducing your caffeine intake can also make a big difference. Try to avoid caffeinated beverages up to six hours before you plan to sleep. Getting too little sleep can lead to sleep deficiency, which is linked to health conditions such as stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, and high blood pressure. When you get a good night’s sleep, your body is able to recoup and stay healthy.