“Work-life balance” describes how much time and attention you give to your occupation compared to yourself, family, and leisure. In a profession such as nursing, with long shifts and stressful situations, it can be difficult to feel that balance, particularly as the pandemic stretches on.
This 10 day challenge will share tips and strategies to help you feel more at ease with your responsibilities at work and at home.
Starts September 20. Click "Yes" under "Ready to Join?" to sign up! Let us know how you are feeling about your work-life balance in our discussion. Get started here.
I used to have a housekeeper when I lived in Michigan and loved it. It was great having someone clean the bathroom, vacuum, and get the kitchen cleaner than I ever could. I haven't investigated yet but I am guessing it is more expensive here in Washington. I want to use one again in the future and will have to check it out soon. I love meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking so that decreases my stress rather than adding to it. I am not handy so I prefer hiring out any home projects beyond changing a filter or lightbulb.
At work, my current job does not have enough ancillary support to delegate properly. When I first arrived here, they were using nursing to clean the rooms in covid since the hospital was not allowing anyone but nursing and respiratory in the Covid unit.
Where I work is very good about getting breaks. By contract, we are required to have 2 30 minute and 1 fifteen minute breaks for every 12 hour shift. Surprisingly, I get them most days. There are opportunities to walk outside, recliners to nap in and places to get away.
Covid has dramatically slowed my restorative travel. I typically go to 6-8 contra dance weekends a year where I dance 14-16 hours with 150-400 people. I usually take a weekend a month away with a partner. I also take a 10-12 day adventure vacation annually. All of this has stopped this year. I have not used my camper since last October. The last in person contra dance was February 2020. Dancing on zoom is not the same. I no longer have a partner. Adventure vacations are limited and I am nervous about covid risk with unknown participants.
I am fortunate to live in a beautiful place where I can hike, SUP and kayak regularly. It has made the lack of travel tolerable.
I decided to take a part time position in January of this year at first because it was a way to get day shift in a new hospital. I knew I could not go back to nights. I was concerned about making enough money working 24 hours a week but noticed there was plenty of OT available. It helps there is a strong union contract that pays what the cost of living here is. I make as much working part time in Washington as I did full time in Michigan and when I worked in Maryland 10 years ago.
With Covid continuing, working 2 twelves a week has been great for my mental health. I have plenty of time to hike, SUP, kayak, and practice yoga. If I want to work more, I can and I have. Working these hours has given me the opportunity to engage in community activism which I had cut back on for some time. I am also going to explore occupational and environmental health nursing as I am getting ready to transition out of ICU.
Work-life balance is a challenge in the current world of COVID and the uncertainty that every day brings. Working remotely means that I don't leave work at the end of day. Here I am back at my computer trying to catch up so I am ready for tomorrow. Family, dinner, exercise, quiet time are all equally important, but it is so easy to get consumed in work. I tell my colleagues to take time for themselves and I could be a better example.
Totally agree - remote working has it's pro's but challenges too including that ability to slip back on to the computer and the work continuing as it's still in the same environment and so easily accessible. A colleague has literally started turning off her work laptop and packing it away into her laptop bag with the cords and putting it into her car …even though she no longer commutes to work. It was the only way she was able to psychologically “end her work day”. She's now adding a walk into the 20 minutes that she would normally be in her car driving home from the office. This is her effort to try to add another mental and physical shift from “work” to “home” time; as well as getting some much needed movement into her day.
Let's get week 2 of the challenge rolling!! Excited to see this week's tips!
Today we were asked about saying no. Not a problem at work. I got a text 0545 this morning saying we are 4 RNs, a unit clerk and a sitter short. Once I looked at it, my first thought was I hoped the managers dressed ready to work the floor today. Then I hoped they cancelled some surgeries. I also wondered who might go in. I never considered going in since I need to do some self care this week.
Where I do have trouble with no is with friends and family. I want to be liked so I do not speak up for my needs and wants all the time. I have trouble setting boundaries with people. An example is a friend who is an unsafe driver. I still am letting him drive me to hikes since he knows the area better. Or I wait for a friend most of the day to go kayaking or hiking until I finally just go myself and do not express my disappointment. Something to work on in my men's group. Happy to get feedback here.
Dave, It seems you have an awareness of your desire to reset different boundaries with friends/family and underlying personal wish to be “liked”. Give some thought to the opportunity that having conversations with your friends/family might have. With a better understanding of your feelings and goals for the relationships, it may also allow them an opportunity to reframe their actions and responses more positively. As one of my close family said - "Sometimes you have to tell me what you want - I'm not always good at picking up subtle hints or non-verbal communication." Also, if you do have honest conversations and the relationships don't shift in the way that you hope, it provides some clarity for you as to how much you personally want to continue to invest in those relationships versus develop new ones that might prove more rewarding. Not saying that these are easy conversations to have but if you decide to have them, I agree with @ChristiM to start with a good friend and build confidence from there.
It's interesting that you can say no at work and not to friends and family. Friends and family should be more understanding when you take a stand for yourself and your well-being. I would start small and pick someone you feel closest too and let them know how you feeling this topic. See if they can help call you out on obligatory yeses.
I know some people have trouble leaving work at work. My challenge right now is friends outside of work want to know how many patients we have, how are things going and want to talk about covid. It is natural to be curious and it is the topic of the day. While I take part in the conversation and share information, I love it when we get to “normal life” topics. Unfortunately because of covid, some of my normal life activities such as contra dancing and traveling are still limited. I have made accommodations such as listening to music on line or remembering past adventures and it is not the same.
I am wondering if this challenge is going to address the systemic issues facing us. Everyone strives to be balanced and has tools for resiliency. Many of us are working harder and harder at resiliency as this challenge shows. Why aren't we talking about a changing a system that makes us work so hard be resilient? If we keep treating this issue an in individual problem to overcome, the system has no incentive to change. I do not have the answers to system change and I want ANA and other similar organizations to start those conversations.
Today, the challenge asked about reflection. Yes, it is necessary and helpful. Where I get into trouble with reflection is holding onto the past too much and not letting go of past emotional wounds. I am fortunate to have been part of a Men's Group called The Mankind Project for the last 14 years that helps with this. The men in this group ask me questions such as how is this believe still serving me, what's at risk of letting go of this wound or believe. When I frame my unhealthy reflections in those terms, I am able to release the judgements and feelings I have around my charged reflections.
That is a great question for reflection!
Its been a year and a day. A year and a day ago, I left Michigan for a travel assignment in Bellingham, WA. Today, my divorce was finalized. In a year and a day, I have relocated to Washington, finished my BSN, and my marriage has ended. In between, I took up paddle board yoga and have enough balance to do a headstand on a paddle board. I have hiked, kayaked, paddle boarded, made friends and connections while taking a new part time position here.
I find work life balance to be challenging. Even though I only work 2 twelves a week, in my 50s it takes longer to recover and renew my energy to do it again. I often work in Covid ICU and picked up extra this weekend. I will now need to spend the next several days doing yoga, kayaking, hiking, eating good food and catching up with friends so I can do it again next weekend.
I like the idea of work life satisfaction better than balance. I am satisfied with my life. I enjoy living by the mountains and the sea, being able to work part time, and knowing how to make connections that will lead to other opportunities. While I am sad about my marriage ending, I am happy I am taking the time to work on myself so I do not repeat the mistakes I made in this relationship in the future.
Yes, I am satisfied and have room to grow.
Thanks for sharing with us Dave. What a lot of changes you have navigated in a short amount of time. I've always considered integrating work-life into a state of balance as a constant challenge and sometimes a near impossible goal so I love your statement about work-life satisfaction. Even more is your final comment about room to grow. To me that seems to be a condition that indicates a future of hope and opportunity. As we change we grow - hopefully in positive and rewarding ways. I wish you well on your journey and the new life you are creating.
Now that I am in my 50’s, I realize how important it is to have a work-life balance. Think of it this way - you are carrying 2 beautiful glass globes that represent your life and family, but you are also carrying a rubber ball which is work. You know that if you drop the glass globes they will break and can’t be repaired - that is the time you lose if you don’t take care of your life and family. Whereas, the rubber ball is work which can bounce back, go high or go low. Can you balance the glass globes and the rubber ball?
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