Since the COVID-19 pandemic, most nursing staff and students find themselves working harder than ever before. Consequently, a rising percentage of nursing professionals feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and depleted due to a higher workload and working longer hours. This unmanaged stress builds over time, manifesting negative consequences such as poor mental health and increased burnout rates.
It also costs the healthcare industry millions of dollars. Each year, the hospitals lose $3.6 million to $6.1 million due to bedside RN turnover. For all these reasons, work-life balance is vital for nurses and nursing students.
Easy Tips for Nursing Students to Strike a Work-Life Balance
Managing our professional and personal lives in sustainable ways that keep our energy flowing is essential to achieve a healthy work-life balance. Here are some helpful tips that can help you unwind and keep work-related stress in check.
1. Keep a Time Log
Analyzing your current routine is the first step toward living a balanced life. Keep a one-week time journal of everything you do, including professional and personal interests. This information will serve as a wake-up call, revealing how you spend your time and where you waste it. The valuable insights can help you improve your routine in the long run.
2. Invest in Self-Care
Due to long shifts and a busy schedule, nursing students may find it challenging to eat healthily and exercise. However, both these factors are fundamental for a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, it is advisable to set aside 30 to 60 minutes for self-care every day. Healthy eating and exercising are essential for avoiding weight gain and jeopardizing your health. It can also help with stress.
So, use your “me-time” to prep a healthy meal or exercise. Keep in mind that while you may move around a lot while performing your daily nursing activities, it’s not the same as walking, running, bicycling, swimming, or going to the gym. These activities raise your heart rate, increase vitality, and activate muscles that you may not use at work.
3. Develop Good Work Relationships
Finding the time to socialize can be a challenge for nursing students. An excellent strategy to make up for social time is to find friends at work. While you are unlikely to hang around to have fun during working hours, developing friendly and understanding relationships with your colleagues and peers can still help big time.
Even a quick hello in the corridor or a friendly chat during a lunch break can help you de-stress during the day. Maintaining amicable relationships with fellow nursing staff also contributes to a peaceful working atmosphere.
So, keep a friendly demeanour towards all and practice professionalism when dealing with any disputes at work. It will have a positive influence on your teamwork and communication skills as well.
4. Leave Work at Work
Many nursing students find it difficult to snap out of the “working mode” even when they are done with their tasks for the day. If you constantly think about work or stress about things you need to do later, you need to develop a mental on-off switch to toggle between work and home.
One strategy is to schedule an activity right after your working hours. Listening to music or audiobooks on your daily commute, exercising at the gym, running errands, or keeping personal appointments are all great examples of activities that can take your mind off work and help you relax during your leisure time.
5. Learn to Seek Help
If your obligations are becoming too much for you to handle, you may need to seek help. You may be overburdened with patients at work or unable to keep up with housework or meal preparation at home. Do not be afraid to talk to your nursing manager or other supervisors if you have any issues at work. Similarly, you may require assistance with domestic duties from your partner, spouse, or children. It is essential to know when to prioritize yourself and seek help.
The Bottom Line
Nursing is one of the most sought professions in the healthcare industry. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most stressful ones. It can be hard to balance work, home, health, family and relationships, hobbies, and leisure and recreation activities. Sometimes, 24 hours just don’t seem enough.
However, the tips mentioned above can help you carve out time to unwind and relax. It will not enhance your mental and physical wellbeing but will also help you perform better. Making time for yourself is the best way to boost your nursing career in the long run!