Every career-minded individual craves a balance between professional advancement and personal pleasure. While the definition of balance is unique to each person, the demands of a nursing career can make it tough to succeed in all areas of life.

Work-life balance is the harmony of personal and professional. So much of one’s career involves the challenge of achieving work success while enjoying the fruits of one’s labor. Working Nurse recommends cultivating self-knowledge and self-discipline to strike the balance. Understanding your own needs and creating guidelines for yourself can set you on the right path.

Under Pressure: Nurses’ Need for Balance

ITA Group notes that the national average for nurse turnover is 17.7% annually. Many things contribute to this turnover, including patient woes, burnout and personal difficulties.

Nurses are compassionate, with a strong drive to help others. These qualities lead to excellent patient care, but they also make nurses susceptible to distress when patients are not improving. Patient concerns don’t go away when nurses go home for the day, per American Nurse Today.

Striving for perfection and remaining hopeful can pose challenges as well. Added to nurses’ desire to care for all of the people in their lives, this helpful nature can be a significant cause of self-imposed stress.

A nursing career has unique challenges. Patients need care around the clock, so schedules can be tricky. The work requires dexterity and problem-solving ability — both can be physically and emotionally demanding.

Workplace stresses often involve staffing, inter-organizational conflicts and expectations. Long hours coupled with continual physical and mental stress are a recipe for burnout. Exhaustion, frustration, disagreements and illness can result.

Life stressors, changing goals and limited time can create tension. It is tough to make career advancements when there are difficulties at home, and one’s home life can suffer when there are struggles at work.

Achieving Balance: Consider Yourself

Focusing on personal needs doesn’t always come easily for caregivers. According to HealthStream, decompression is key. Consider bonding with fellow nurses after work to gain the support and understanding of others who fully comprehend the demands of the job.

Another wise tactic is to be good to yourself. Take time to relax. Meditation, prayer, yoga or a fitness class can help you focus on the present. A creative outlet like journaling or painting may do you some good as well.

It’s possible to achieve a balance between work and life by planning, choosing and readjusting. While it may be difficult, you can organize your life to prioritize things that make you happy or provide respite from the demands of your job.

Improve work-life balance by accepting what you can’t change and addressing the frustration you feel because you can’t change them. Become curious and empathetic toward others when there is conflict. You may learn something that will deepen your understanding.

In the end, individual nurses must take control of their time and priorities to achieve work-life balance. Recognizing challenges and making time for yourself makes for a happier, healthier life.

Learn more about the UMFK online RN to BSN program.


Working Nurse: Work & Life Balance: A Nurse’s Impossible Dream

ITA Group: 7 Things That Cause Nurse Turnover (and 8 Things That Stop It)

American Nurse Today: Achieving a Work-Life Balance

HealthStream: Work-Life Balance in a Nursing Career