Many people believe nursing to be more than just a career choice – they see it as a life calling. For nurses who believe this to be true about their own discovery of nursing, it can be difficult to take off the stethoscope and scrubs once they get home. As with any profession, work can start to take over, leaving life outside of the clinic or hospital on hold.

Nursing is among the most demanding of careers. Long hours, high stakes, and short staffs leave individual nurses doing more during their working hours than seems humanly possible. And given the altruistic nature of most nurses, it can be hard to say ‘no’ when someone asks them for help. It’s easy to burn out if you’re not careful.

One thing you can do as a nurse to maintain job satisfaction and avoid exhaustion is to make sure you’re maintaining a good work/life balance. This means saving yourself some time to relax, tend to the needs of your house, work on personal projects and hobbies, and spend time with family and friends. It may be easier said than done, but you’re sure to feel less stressed out and more capable of doing your job if you follow these simple instructions.

How to Maintain Work Life Balance as a Nurse

Emphasize self care.

Seriously. You can’t do the job you’ve signed up for if you don’t take care of yourself. And that’s not any new-age pop philosophy, that’s just a fact. And when we talk about self care, we don’t mean bubble baths and sipping champagne on the porch (although those are both great). We mean eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep.

Nurses are under a lot of pressure and stress, and it can be easy to let self care fall to the wayside. Extended shifts and busy agendas can have you reaching for the fast food, counting your rounds as a trip to the gym, and cutting down on sleep. But you know all that isn’t healthy. So step one is making sure you’re adequately taking care of your body and your brain, both for better physical health and better mental health.

Set priorities.

Think about things you want to do, goals you’d like to achieve, outside of work. Whether you have family you’d like to spend more time with, a vacation you’ve been putting off, continuing education you want to finish, even chores you need more space in the week for, you can make more time in your life for them.

Nursing, like we said, is a job that can feel like a lifestyle. But it is ultimately up to you to decide what the most important things in your world are. Identify those essential things, and let go of the rest that stand in the way of your goals.

Disconnect while at home.

Turn off your phone when you’re off the clock. Technology keeps us in constant contact with the world, and can fray our nerves even more if we’re not careful. Be in the present, enjoy the moment, and limit screen time while away from work to maximize your return on relaxation time.

Manage stress wisely.

Nothing will spoil your free time like stress that just won’t go away. How can you relax and get things done when you’re still so tense from your last long shift? Practicing good self care (see above), adopting mindfulness and breathing techniques, and participating in dopamine-triggering activities you love can help mitigate the effects of stress. This will allow you to enjoy your time off to the fullest.

Set boundaries.

Learning to say no is hard, but it’s necessary. We can’t all be like Jim Carrey in Yes Man, and even if we could, what would the world be like? Nothing would get done, and everyone would be exhausted. As a nurse, you give so much on a regular basis, but you need to keep some for yourself. So learn to turn down the extra shift, skip the social, and allow yourself to have a little more openness in your schedule.

Do what makes you happy.

Last but not least: have fun. Make sure you’re doing more than just housework and other life obligations while off the clock. Tend to old hobbies, pick up a new one, take a class, or just Netflix and chill. Whatever helps lift your spirits and replenish your energy stores, find time to treat yourself to what you love.

Finding the time for activities and self care outside of your job as a nurse can seem difficult, but it’s never impossible. You’re worth more than your working role, and you deserve to live your best life, both in and out of your scrubs.

Medely is a nurse staffing platform that takes the stress out of scheduling. To find out how Medely can make your life easier, visit our website today.

If you are looking for a change of pace, check out these additional posts from Medely, How To Become a Travel Nurse, and Nurse Staffing Agencies By Location for advice and resources on shaking up your career with new sights and challenges.