As a Pegasus home care nurse in Pasadena and elsewhere, you care for individuals with various health conditions. Your work with them offers you a challenging and fulfilling nursing career. That makes it easy to overlook the critical skill you need to separate your work life from personal time.
The tried and true advice is to set boundaries. Draw lines around work time and personal time. Don’t let one overlap the other.
Good advice, but setting boundaries is far easier said than done. But difficult isn’t impossible. It’s essential for your personal well-being and your professional career that you establish a work-life balance.
The cost of not having boundaries is high. It includes:
- Fatigue – being everything to everyone with no separations wears you out. Then you make mistakes, some of which could have serious consequences. You also become vulnerable to burnout.
- Loss of relationships – spending time with family and friends is crucial to your well-being. Not reserving time to nurture your relationships leaves you depressed, alone, and lonely.
- Poor health – you already know the harmful effects of stress on health. A lack of work-life balance exacerbates stress.
- Your emotional, mental, and physical health deteriorates when work and life blend together.
When you become burned out, depressed, or ill, your ability to care for others is compromised.
Experts say that people can be divided into two groups: integrators and segmentors. As you might expect, integrators have few boundaries between work and personal life. Segmentors have a greater ability to “switch” between the job and home and keep the two separated.
Each type has advantages and disadvantages, but generally being a segmentor is considered more desirable. Home or work situations for integrators can negatively affect both parts of their lives.
Pandemic restrictions that made working from home necessary compounded the difficulty of maintaining a work-life balance. Home healthcare visits were often conducted via telehealth rather than personal contact. That’s coming to an end, giving you the opportunity to get a better balance in your “new normal.”
So, where do you start? A healthy work-life balance is personal. You discover what works for you by knowing yourself. What do you want/expect from your career and your personal life?
What are your goals? Your priorities? What is keeping you from meeting them?
Work-life balance is more than dividing personal and professional duties. That’s part of it, of course, but both turn into drudgery if that’s all there is. You have:
These are all part of what makes you who you are and are a part of balancing your life.
One expert advises considering home and work as complementary rather than competitive, as the way to balance. Most people, no matter how hard they try, can’t fully separate the two. Strive toward feeling satisfaction, peace, and fulfillment with both parts.
A tool that’s met the test of time for helping people achieve balance is the “Wheel of Life.” You can find directions and examples on numerous websites.
It’s not the only tool that’s available to you. As a nurse, you’re experienced with interviewing individuals and evaluating and assessing the answers. Apply those skills to yourself to measure your satisfaction, or lack of balance, with where you are.
Tips For Achieving a Work-Life Balance
If your current work-life balance isn’t quite what it should be, you may find the following tips helpful:
- Avoid overscheduling. You have an advantage as a home healthcare nurse because you set your own schedule. You see as many or as few individuals as you want.
- Delegate household chores. Your children and other family members can probably do more than you think, especially if you don’t expect perfection. The more they help you with the necessary chores, the more quality time you have to spend with them.
- Eat healthy foods, exercise, and get enough sleep. Sure, all those things take time, but you’ll discover that you’re far more productive with everything else when you’ve given your body what it requires to function optimally.
- Find a hobby or creative activity that you enjoy.
- Preserve off-time. Limit work-related electronic or in-person access during your personal time. Establish boundaries with family members as to when you can be interrupted.
- Take a vacation. It’s crucial that you give yourself rest and relaxation.
- Use your ability to say no. On occasion, you may need to fill in for someone or tend to an urgent need of one of your regulars. Family emergencies happen, and you have to be there. But don’t allow exceptions to become expectations.
Above all else, take care of yourself. It’s essential to preserve your health. And the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics: Provision 5 obligates you to do so.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our home care nurses in Pasadena and our other locations are dedicated to improving the lives of others. We support and encourage their efforts to make a healthy work-life balance an integral part of their career as nurses.