Achieving the ideal work life balance is what we all strive to accomplish, especially in this profession where so many of us are used to putting the needs of others before our own. With long hours, an irregular routine and minimal breaks, neglecting our own self-care can easily be done.

Why is Maintaining a Work-Life Balance Important?

Statistics from the Health and Safety Executive showed that in 2016-2017, over 12.5 million working days were lost to depression, anxiety or stress. It found that those public sector staff in health and social work were most at risk of ill health due to anxiety, stress and depression.

Making time to rest and recharge before a full day at work is just as important as turning up to your shift. There are a few small changes you can make to gradually help improve your work-life balance for not only yourself but your family and your patients. By not identifying the need to adjust your work-life balance, and then not acting on it, you can risk adverse long-term effects on relationships, work performance and both your physical and mental health. Here are some simple times aimed at helping you to achieve an improved work-life balance as a nurse.

meditating

1. Exercise

Taking the time out to look after your physical well being is essential. Exercising regularly, meditating and improving your diet are all valuable ways of improving your physical health. Exercising has been proven to reduce the risk of depression and stress levels by as much as 30%. With long, stressful days at work it can be easy to make excuses for not attending the gym or going for a run because of a lack of time, but with accurate statistics like that, we should take the power of exercise a lot more seriously. Take more walks during the day, especially on lunch breaks, to help get your daily dose of Vitamin D and fresh air.

Meditating is another effective way of reducing stress levels and anxiety. Taking 10 minutes out of your day, every day to sit outside and be mindful of what is going on around you can help to put you in a positive frame of mind for the rest of the day. There are online tutorials and YouTube videos for beginners that will teach you the best approach to meditation.

If signing up for the gym is not your preferred method of exercise, then yoga or pilates are both valid and effective ways of combining physical activity and meditation. Try to integrate at least half an hour of exercise into your day to help reduce stress levels.

2. Diet

Looking after your gut is guaranteed to not only help your mental health but improve your overall wellbeing. It is suggested you try to incorporate plenty of vegetables, foods high in fibre, probiotics and prebiotics into your diet to properly give your gut the care it requires. To further improve the well-being of your gut, avoid junk foods, especially fizzy drinks, pizza, chips and biscuits. For more information about the food your gut loves and the impact of junk food on your body, take a read of this article.

Stay as hydrated as possible as this will aid digestion and ward off headaches and dizziness. However, make sure to avoid a high alcohol intake as this will negatively impact your gut’s health. You can also try to cut down on the amount of sugar in your teas and coffees, or consider cutting it out completely.

avocado salad

3. Switch Off Phones

We are all guilty of spending far too much time on our phones nowadays but more and more research is finding how these small technological devices negatively impact our health and well-being. Studies have shown that smartphone overuse can lead to negative effects on an individual’s posture, eyesight and hearing.

They are also massive disrupters of sleep. The light emitted from our phones and tablets is also known to suppress melatonin and will disrupt the natural rhythm of your sleep, so it is advised to keep phones outside of your bedroom. Switching your phone off for just half an hour in the evening will provide you with the perfect opportunity to sit and do nothing for a little while.

4. Ask For help

When the demands of your job seem to be becoming too much, then there is an abundance of options you can turn to for help. This can be in the form of counsellors, self-help books, talking to family members or even online therapy. Talking to therapists and counsellors can not only help to unburden yourself from some of the stresses of work, but also from your personal life. Qualified counsellors will undergo professional supervision to manage and discuss their caseload and own well-being and they can help implement the methods they use into your lifestyle. Many employers and community organisations are now offering free stress awareness courses to help with mindfulness and stress levels.

counselling session

5. Leaving on time

Managing your time and workload effectively should enable you to, more often than not, leave work on time. If this is something you know you struggle with, then make it a goal of yours to start effective time management. Many employers now encourage a culture of working beyond contracted hours, but the more staff members who leave on time, the better the working environment is for everyone. Create yourself time for each task to be completed by and stick to it. Try to focus on working smarter but not for longer. Creating a tick list of the next day’s tasks is a great method of time management and is supposedly said to help improve sleep quality.

Summary

Improving your work-life balance as a nurse takes a little bit of time and some self-determination. It is easy to get caught up in a continual circle of work and forget to make your own needs a priority. With the addition and implementation of these tips, hopefully, you can achieve the perfect balance between life and work. If you are looking for a nursing locum position with control over your hours, then take a look at the positions we have to offer.

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