Life is chaotic, especially for nurses. From family responsibilities to work obligations, it sometimes seems like things are spiraling out of control. Taking care of yourself by creating space between work and life can help nurses regain stability. During National Work and Family Month this October, explore how building boundaries between your countless obligations empowers your self-care and has a positive impact on your work and workplace.
What the Research Tells Us
Stress can be overwhelming when you try to tackle everything at once without space between work and life. Taking care of yourself in that regard can help to reduce stress and its related outcomes, such as emotional exhaustion, anxiety, and depression. The benefits also extend to your job performance and job satisfaction.
Employers can also help employees achieve optimal self-care. On survey responses, nurses said that to improve work engagement, institutions should implement initiatives to facilitate well-being that consider nurses’ home lives.
ONS Members Share How They Achieve Well-Being at Home and at Work
ONS member Stephanie Young, BSN, RN, OCN®, oncology nurse team leader at the University of North Carolina REX Cancer Center of Wakefield in Raleigh, said that shifting her mindset and compartmentalizing have helped her to find well-being at home and at work. She recognizes the need to avoid worrying about work when at home, so she turns her focus to her family and activities like walking her dog or having a movie night.
“Once I was mindful about leaving work at work and remembering that not everything has to be done in one day, I was able to free my mind to embrace my time at home or out with friends,” Young said. “It takes time to develop, because I want to do everything right away by myself so as not to disturb others, but working as a team is of utmost importance. Delegating and reaching out for help and resources is okay.”
ONS member Montserrat Noboa, FNP, RN, BSN, MPH, in San Diego, CA, said that taking breaks helps nurses to enjoy their work and continue to provide care. She also recommended spending time with family and setting aside time for hobbies.
“Identifying what activities you enjoy, such as sports, crafts, or movies, can make all the difference,” Noboa said. “I suggest you give yourself at least one day per week to do it. It can be like having a date with yourself.”
ONS member Suzanne M. Mahon, DNS, RN, AOCN®, AGN-BC, FAAN, professor emerita in the Division of Hematology and Oncology in the Department of Internal Medicine at Saint Louis University in Missouri, said she found her self-care skyrocket when she took up photography about 15 years ago. Between her workload and family responsibilities, Mahon said she had been feeling overwhelmed, but she enjoyed taking photos of her children participating in their sporting events. She turned out to have a talent for it and soon had other parents asking her to photograph their children at the events.
Mahon took the opportunity to learn more about photography. She said she would set aside 15 minutes each day to read her camera’s manual and practice photographing. It took her years to make it through the manual, she explained, but it turned into a passion that eventually led her to earn a certificate in photography at a local community college.
“I have found a new outlet,” Mahon said. “I have amazing photographs of my family, including our first grandchild, and state parks in Missouri. Photography has also taught me to look at the world from all different angles, which is important not only in recording an image but in all interactions with others. Taking those 15 minutes every day just for me was not selfish. It helped me to refocus. Being an adult learner is challenging but oddly relaxing. I have honed a skill that I can share with others, and I was able to find a balance.”
Tell us how you practice well-being and self-care in your work and home life. Share your strategies and tips with your fellow ONS members by joining the discussion on our ONS Communities post.