How to Nail Work-Life Balance as an Ambitious Nurse

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Managing work-life balance can be difficult in any career. It becomes even more challenging when working in healthcare, especially if you want to climb the ladder. Fortunately, with enough effort, you can ensure your social life isn’t affected by your ambition. Here’s how to nail a work-life balance as an ambitious nurse.

Do Your Further Education Online

Working as a nurse means fitting in further education is tricky. As an ambitious nurse with visions of an advanced degree, though, you don’t have much of a choice. One way to make this easier on yourself is by pursuing an online degree rather than a traditional classroom one. For those who are extremely ambitious, you can even do your DNP online.

Whether you want to become a nurse educator, a nurse anesthetist, or a certified nurse-midwife, you have the option to do most of the studying online. It means you won’t have to sacrifice too much of your time toward traveling to and from a university. Plus, the tuition costs are often lower.

Read Fun Nursing Books

Many ambitious nurses are set on absorbing as much clinical knowledge as possible, and one of the ways to do this is by reading lots of nursing books. This can negatively affect your home life, though – coming home from work only to read more about your job can take away from your valuable relaxation. One way to solve this is to read genuinely fun and interesting nursing books.

Instead of picking up clinical texts that only relay facts, consider buying nursing memoirs and stories that’ll grip you from the first page. Not only will you learn more about healthcare, but you’ll also genuinely enjoy yourself while you do it. You never know; once you’ve completed your DNP and climbed the nursing ranks, you might end up publishing your own book!

Use Time Management Apps

If you never feel like you have enough hours in the day and give up precious time at home to accommodate your nursing ambitions, consider using scheduling apps. By doing this, you’ll find you have better control over your day, and you’ll understand exactly where your lost hours are going. That extra hour spent over a textbook while your brain is past the point of learning? Use that time to have a bubble bath or cook up a delicious and healthy evening meal.

Focus on Sleep Quality

You might get into bed at 10pm, ready for waking up at 6am, but how many of those hours are spent in a quality sleep? If you are spending your nights barely hitting REM and tossing and turning, it’s time to think about how to improve your sleeping routine. That way, you’ll feel more relaxed in the morning, allowing you to give everything you have at work. Some ways to ensure great sleep include:

Put Your Phone Down Thirty-Minutes Before Sleep

The light from your phone screen can keep you up at night. Instead of scrolling through Twitter before getting some shut-eye, why not spend thirty minutes reading, meditating, or listening to a podcast or audiobook? You’ll find dropping off much easier.

Keep the Room Dark and Cool

A hot room with hints of light is the last thing you want when trying to sleep through the night. By keeping a cooler temperature and shutting out any light (including the hall light that streams under your door), your sleep will be less interrupted.

Have a Bath

Baths are the perfect way of relaxing both your body and mind. An hour or two before your bedtime, run yourself a bath and splash a couple of drops of lavender oil into it. You’ll be ready for sleep in no time!

Avoid Excitement Before Bed

If you love horror films or first-person shooter video games, try to avoid enjoying them before bed. While it’s great to have hobbies, your increased heart rate could interrupt your precious hours in bed.

By getting the best quality of sleep, you can truly make the most out of your work, relaxation, and socializing time. 

See Your Family and Friends More

Many nurses find that they struggle to see their loved ones as much as they want to, and this can become even harder when you’re ambitious and trying to climb the ladder. It is crucial to prioritize your family and friends from time to time, especially if you haven’t seen them in a while. After all, they’re probably interested in all the hard work you’ve been putting in. Schedule some drinks, invite them over for dinner, or grab a quick coffee on your lunch break to ensure you don’t push out the people that matter most.

Make Quality Study Notes

If you are doing a master’s degree or DNP while working as a nurse, a lot of your time is likely spent studying. Instead of spending hours pouring over long, messy notes, try to create quality study notes that are easy to read. It might cost you more time at first when you are writing everything out neatly, but the finished result will save you tons of time in the future. With all that extra time, you could do something outside of nursing, like practice the instrument you haven’t picked up in months or go see a friend you’ve meant to catch up with!

Make More Nursing Friends

As an ambitious nurse, it makes sense that you surround yourself with people who have similar interests to you. So, make as many friends in the nursing industry as possible. Not only will this give you more options for socializing, but it also means you might be offered better opportunities in the future. Plus, you’ll often naturally talk about healthcare when together, meaning you’ll learn more about nursing while having fun.

Don’t Rush Your Education

You might be focused on getting your DNP as soon as possible, but what is the point in rushing? Not only will it mean you get less time to yourself, but it’ll also increase your chances of low grades. By taking it slow and only pursuing further education when you’re ready, you increase your chances of success. Luckily, there are plenty of online, part-time nursing courses to consider when you want to add more qualifications to your resume.

Use Your Phone to Keep up with Friends

There is no denying that there’ll be times you simply cannot spare a full day and night to hang out with friends. This is especially true if you’re working and studying for your DNP at the same time. To make sure you get that much-needed socialization, use your phone to message, call, and FaceTime your friends whenever you feel like you need a rant or just a mate to chat to.

Don’t Give Up on Old Hobbies

While you might not be able to dedicate three hours a day to a sport as you could in high school, that doesn’t mean you should give up on the things you love just because you want to advance your nursing career. Remember – just because your hobbies aren’t healthcare-related that doesn’t mean they aren’t helping you thrive. Not only will they help you feel better mentally, which in turn reduces stress, but many hobbies also help to strengthen the body and mind. The stronger your body and mind are, the better you’ll be at studying.

Create a Time Slot Just for You

When managing your time, it’s a good idea to set aside a certain slot that is entirely for you. It doesn’t matter when it is – it could be half an hour in the morning before anybody else gets up, or it could be a full hour after work when you don’t have to worry about anything else. See this time as important as your studies, and you’ll decrease your chances of stress. Time alone is just as important as socializing when it comes to a work-life balance!

Work as Close to Home as Possible

When striving for the perfect work-life balance as an ambitious nurse, you want to make the most out of every hour of the day. One way to do this is by living as close to your work as possible. Of course, this might be completely out of your control, but if you have the opportunity to study and work close to home, then you should take it up. Less time driving to work means more time for you.

Find New Ways to Relax

Going to work and studying for your DNP might not change day to day, but your relaxation methods can. By switching it up from time to time, you make sure your time to yourself is both interesting and relaxing at the same time. Some fun ways to relax include:

  • Taking a spa day
  • Taking a picnic with friends
  • People-watching from a café window
  • Having a pamper session

Pick a Single Direction

Generally, knowing you want to advance as a nurse means you run the risk of spreading your hours too thin. Instead, focus on a single direction and put your all into it. By doing this, you reduce the time spent gaining experience in an area that won’t actually help you. For example, if you want to become a nurse leader, focus on attaining your DNP and taking on any leadership opportunities at work.

Cut Down on Your Morning Routine

Part of your work-life balance doesn’t have to involve a long and slow morning routine. If you’re currently spending over twenty minutes in the shower and over an hour to eat breakfast, there’s plenty of time to be saved. By cutting down on your morning routine, you can use that time toward something more productive, like studying for your DNP or an extra hour in bed.

Put Your Health First

A work-life balance won’t work without a healthy body and mind. After all, who wants to meet up with friends after a shift if they’re in pain, feeling stressed, or overly tired? To make sure you keep up optimal health, you should:

Eat a Healthy Diet

This one goes without saying, but many busy healthcare workers find that their diet consists of too much sugar due to their bodies needing more energy. Instead, opt for natural sugars like fruits or pack a healthy lunch, including many vitamins and protein.

Exercise

At first, exercise might make you feel more tired, but eventually, it’ll boost your mood and improve your stamina. Two things all nurses need!

Notice Negative Symptoms

If you find you’re more stressed, in pain, or tired, don’t ignore the signs – go see a doctor. By catching a potential illness early, you’re less likely to impact your home or work life.

Listen to Nursing Podcasts

As an ambitious nurse, you want to know as much about nursing as possible without it taking too much time away from your home life. A great way to do this is by listening to nursing podcasts while you shower, clean, or drive. By fitting nursing education into your daily life and chores, your actual hours to relax can be spent doing just that – relaxing.

When You Switch Off, Actually Switch Off

Switching off doesn’t mean eating your lunch with your work computer in front of you; it means fully detaching yourself from your work or studies and doing something you genuinely enjoy.

The same can be said the other way around – when you’re studying for your DNP, focus solely on the text. By always giving it your all, you’ll get it done quicker.

Enjoy the Ride

There is a reason you are so ambitious. While you might find it challenging to juggle your work, studies, social life, and time at home, it’s important to enjoy every moment. One day, you’ll look back on this time with utmost pride.

It’s certainly not easy to perfect the work-life balance as an ambitious nurse, especially one studying for a DNP or something similar on the side! By following this advice, though, you can enjoy a fulfilled career as well as a great life away from work.

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