Nurses can easily become overwhelmed at work and, like everyone else, at home. Even when nurses have had years of experience to learn about work-life balance in their careers, they may still need to find ways to carve out moments in their day so they can relax. If nurses do not practice self-care, they run the risk of burnout, depression and poor patient outcomes. That is why a healthy work-life balance is essential to nurses competently fulfilling their role in patient care.
What Does Work-Life Balance Mean?
Work-life balance means harmony between one’s job and one’s personal life. Consequently, a good work-life balance means neither aspect of a nurse’s life overtakes the other.
Why Is a Balance Important?
Without balance in their life, nurses may become susceptible to illness or job burnout. An article from HealthStream notes that stress is an unfortunately common aspect of a career in healthcare, compounding the likelihood of illness and burnout.
If nurses are exhausted and distracted, they may make medical mistakes that can harm patients. A poor work-life balance can cause higher turnover, which can lead to staffing shortages and increased healthcare costs.
The immense pressures and long hours nurses have endured during the COVID-19 pandemic have shed new light on these issues. Hence, topics like work-life balance, self-care, nursing advocacy and positive nursing workplace environments have risen to the forefront of discussions in the profession.
What Factors at Work Adversely Affect Nurses?
At work, nurses face the demands of sick patients and the emotional strain of helping some patients and their families deal with end-of-life issues. This can be challenging for anyone with an empathetic or compassionate mindset.
A recent study found that a stressful work environment and inadequate staffing were the two most impactful factors causing nurses to leave or consider leaving their job due to burnout. Another relevant study showed that physical and verbal aggression toward nurses is “substantially related” to dimensions of burnout. Moreover, conditions surrounding the pandemic have at times exacerbated the aggression nurses face on the job.
Other factors at work that can adversely impact nurses’ well-being are:
- Rotating shifts
- Problems with recruiting and retaining nurses
- Minimal resources
- Outdated equipment
- Complicated technology
- Uncooperative coworkers
- Lack of support from supervisors
How Does Home Life Affect a Nurse’s Mood?
Besides the normal family obligations nurses encounter as a spouse and a parent, they also may be experiencing difficulties at home. Any kind of strain at home can affect a nurse’s mood and job performance. Pandemic-related situations like quarantines, school closures and illness have added to the complex challenges nurses experience at home. Nurses may find it hard to pay attention to their nursing responsibilities for reasons such as:
- An unemployed spouse
- Death of a loved one
- Financial trouble
- A need to arrange care for an elderly parent
- A need to provide care for a seriously ill child
How Does Work-Life Balance Help With Job Satisfaction and Retention?
Nurses who are overstressed may develop negative thoughts and feelings about nursing, patients and co-workers. Nurses need time away from work so they can regain their fortitude and focus. Stress-reduction is essential for reducing burnout and compassion fatigue.
Self-care methods can help nurses relieve stress, build emotional resilience and stay motivated so they can achieve job satisfaction and improved patient outcomes. Spending time outside of work with friends and coworkers can also be a great stress reliever.
Additionally, nurses who maintain a work-life balance tend to be physically, mentally and emotionally healthier; thus, they are less likely to call in sick or leave the nursing workforce. A study on nurse retention found that nurses who strive for work-life balance showed less “intention to leave” their jobs than their counterparts.
How Does the Contentment of Nurses Help Patients?
Nurses who are content and committed to nursing have the ability to productively collaborate with team members, make quick decisions, come up with solutions to health problems and provide excellent patient care. A dedicated and attentive nurse can enhance patient care in these ways:
- Conduct thorough patient assessments
- Boost efficiency to lower healthcare costs
- Effectively communicate with the healthcare team and patients
- Increase the rate of successful patient outcomes
- Reduce the likelihood of mistakes
How Does Improved Performance Help Boost One’s Nursing Career?
Skilled nurses are flexible and attentive, while possessing a positive attitude. Nurses who demonstrate the proficiencies and skills needed to deliver safe, quality patient care may become eligible for a promotion or a raise in salary. They also may obtain a good reference to assist with career advancement.
Nurses need to discover hobbies and activities that they can engage in to release tension and protect their well-being. They may find reading, exercising, gardening or crafting ideal. Nurses need to take vacations so they can remove themselves from the healthcare environment and free their mind from workplace worries. Managing a work-life balance is not easy, but the knowledge and skills learned in an RN to BSN program can ease the tension and help nurses create a self-care plan.
Learn more about EIU’s online RN to BSN program.