Separating work as a nurse from life at a home can be extremely challenging. Many of us take our struggles at work or difficult patient assignments home with us. If we are going through something personally at home, it is hard sometimes to focus at work. This act of trying to balance can manifest psychosomatically in the form of insomnia, headaches, depression and/or, anxiety. It is so essential to try to balance work life and home life and do your best to separate the two. How?
Pay attention to your thinking when you clock out and head home. Let go of that particularly stressful day, stressful interaction, or patient assignment. When you are at work, make every effort to be present in your work. When you are at home, make every effort to be present at home. Just as you leave your work shoes at the door when you arrive home, make a conscious effort to leave all work related issues there as well. The same goes for work. As you walk through the door, check your personal issues at the door and switch to work mode.
Find a trusted friend or coworker that can be a go to for debriefing on the tougher days. For many of us, just talking about something lifts a huge weight and can help us move on. It is no secret that the nursing profession is tough in many ways. Every nurse needs to be able to debrief and vent. If you prefer writing, keep a work journal. Once you have talked or written about it, try to just let it go.
Let go of any difficulty you are having at work as soon as you walk out the door. Again, the same goes for home. You have no control over the actions or words of others. The only control you have is of your own actions and words as well as your reactions. Let go of the drama, self defeat, and friction. The more we hold onto something, the more we ourselves suffer. Meet challenge always from a place of compassion and kindness even when it is tempting to do otherwise.
Give your patients every bit of your energy and presence during your shift. Once you leave, have a self care ritual waiting for you at home. It can be in the form of a warm bath, post shift walks with your dog, or spending quality time with your kids or grandkids. Whatever brings you joy and calms you, seek and embrace it.
My hope is that you are able to use these simple tools to try to find the needed balance between your work life and personal life. Best of luck to you!!
Lori is an American nurse and yogini living in Gothenburg, Sweden. She contributes regularly to Mighty Nurse, AWHONN, American Nurse Today, and has been featured in The Huffington Post. Follow her adventures through her blog, Neonurse, or on Instagram.