Achieving Work-Life Balance in the Nursing Profession

Stress is an inherent part of life, but it does not have to be all-consuming. Nurses who learn to maintain work-life balance can help reduce their chances of burning out. There are numerous techniques nurses — including those going back to school for nursing — can use to create equilibrium in their lives and achieve success in their careers.

Numerous Factors Can Lead to Nurse Burnout

Nurses work within a complex, demanding and quickly evolving healthcare system. One major change was the rapid influx of Americans who gained access to healthcare because of the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services says that between 2010 and 2016 approximately 20 million Americans gained access to health insurance. Because of this change, nurses have taken on more responsibility, yet the profession has not maintained adequate staffing levels — a trend the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) says is expected to intensify. The extended hours and increased patient loads add stress to an already stressful job.

Other factors, many outside a nurse’s control, can also contribute to this stress. Some of these factors, according to an article in the American Journal of Nursing (AJN), may include hiring freezes, workplace demands and conflicts, and sleep disturbances common in shift work. In addition to work-related pressures and responsibilities, nurses may also be confronting issues in their personal lives. Several issues mentioned in the article include having to provide elder care, economic problems, daily chores and marital issues.

How Nurses Can Create Work-Life Balance

Learning to manage stress using a work-life balance model is an essential component of avoiding burnout. There are many changes nurses can make to better manage their work and home lives. According to an article in American Nurse Today, making even a few small changes can lead to positive results. In fact, the author recommends starting with one small action, then evaluating results after one week.

One change the author suggests is building stronger relationships; this can include delegating responsibilities, being open to reasonable feedback, setting regular times to meet with family and friends, and engaging in conflict-resolution discussions.

Nurses can also learn to become more effective at time management. Making time to sit down with a significant other to discuss expectations, setting boundaries at home and work, and accepting one’s limitations can yield results.

The author says practicing self-care — which includes eating healthily, incorporating a ten-minute walk into one’s routine, and practicing mindfulness meditation or Pilates — is essential. Nurses at Georgetown University Hospital’s Lombardi Cancer Center have benefited from self-care activities, according to an article published in Voice of America. They may paint a mural together, do gentle stretching, write or sew. Writing down thoughts and feelings has been shown to reduce one’s heart rate and blood pressure, and it leads to better sleep quality.

Repetitive activities, such as knitting or coloring can also produce positive results. According to an article in Newark Advocate, there is evidence that using rhythmic and repetitive motions can promote relaxation. The author says it can decrease heart rate, lower blood pressure, slow breathing and drop stress hormone levels.

Benefits of Work-life Balance for Nurses

One of the main advantages of maintaining work-life balance is that it helps prevent burnout: a state the American Journal of Nursing article describes as continued physical and mental exhaustion. Burnout can lead to feeling disconnected from work and home, thus affecting a nurse’s ability to effectively perform.

The author says increased instances of stress and burnout may have created a new personality type: Type D. A person with a Type D personality exhibits traits such as depression, anxiety, negativity and loneliness. Incorporating prevention techniques is more effective than dealing with the repercussions associated with burnout.

How Can an RN to BSN Program Fit Into a Nurse’s Life?

The online RN to BSN program offered by Louisiana State University of Alexandria is designed for working nurses. You can continue to work and take care of other commitments while earning a degree that can expand your career options or prepare you for graduate school. Because you will complete the program online, you can study when it suits your schedule and at the location most convenient for you.

Creating work-life balance is prudent self-care; it can help nurses avoid potential burnout, a state that can impact work performance and home life. There are many techniques nurses can use to regain balance and prevent problems from occurring. A nurse who wants to go back to school to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) can use these techniques to achieve balance and academic success.

Learn more about the LSUA online RN to BSN program.


American Journal of Nursing

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

American Association of Colleges of Nursing

American Nurse Today

Voice of America

Newark Advocate

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