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How to look after your wellbeing as a nursing professional

By Mark Elliott, Clinical Lead of Hays Healthcare, UK 

When your work is about caring for others it’s vital that you take the time to look after your own personal wellbeing. The last two years has seen nurses work through some of the toughest times in healthcare due to the pandemic. Managing your own personal wellbeing should be a priority but it can be challenging.

Finding a good work-life balance can help you perform at your best, but to achieve this you need robust workplace support.  A healthy workplace is one that provides you with information and resources to support lifestyle choices that help you maintain good health and wellbeing.

The struggle of wellbeing for nurses 

Now more than ever nurses are likely to feel overworked and, in some cases undervalued or poorly supported to achieve what is expected of them. This can impact their sense of wellbeing. Working with a depleted staff – and thus feeling a lack of support – may lead some to feel that the quality of care that they can give is compromised.

Regularly feeling the need to sacrifice breaks or feeling that you are singlehandedly doing the work of two nurses, can be tremendously challenging – and may potentially place nurses at risk of exhaustion and making mistakes.

How to strike the right balance between work and leisure

Over the last two years, many people have experienced a disruption in their daily routines, this is particularly the case for nurses with many feeling that work has started to take over too much. Setting healthy boundaries is therefore essential in achieving the right work-life balance. Watch out for:

  • Working for long periods without breaks.
  • Checking work emails when you should be spending time with family and friends.
  • Missing meals or eating while working.

Here are some ways to help you strike the right balance between work and leisure:

  • Examine your situation – remain mindful of your most important values and how you want to spend your time.
  • Learn to say “no” or to ask for extra help and resources where you need them.
  • Manage other people’s expectations – set boundaries that allow you to meet your work and personal needs and identify which activities are non-negotiable.
  • Ensure that you meet your sleep and exercise needs and reward yourself with treats.
  • Be aware that some extra commitments may eat up your time but may not contribute to achieving your work or personal objectives.
  • Plan fun activities for your personal time and spend time with family and friends to ensure that this time is fulfilling.

Tips for switching off from work

Switching off from work is crucial to maintaining your wellbeing. There are different ways to do this to ensure that you are leaving the stress behind and not bringing it home:

  • Ensure that you have positive ways of letting your emotions out.
  • Make time for exercise.
  • Read a book, listen to music, watch your favourite films.
  • Take occasional breaks from technology. Choosing time without electronic devices enables you to give your full attention to the people and activities that you love.
  • Spend quality time with friends and family and do more of what you enjoy.
  • Take time to pursue hobbies, consider getting involved in craft or creative work choosing something that you enjoy doing that you know will distract you from the pressures of work.
  • Try meditation and mindfulness – it can help you to reset, relax and de-stress.

So to look after your own personal wellbeing as a nurse, the best approach is to remain mindful of what factors can undermine your wellbeing at work and watch out for signs.

Also be aware of what resources are available for you to tap into when you need them and speak up to your manager when you require extra support.

Check our selection of free mental health and wellbeing courses available from My Learning by clicking here.

About this author

Mark is Hays Healthcare’s Clinical Lead with over 30 years nursing experience. Mark has successfully managed both general and mental health services at senior directorate level in both acute NHS and private sector settings. Mark provides ongoing clinical and professional advice to Hays Healthcare on all aspects of clinical governance and oversees the recruitment, placement, support and development of locum staff from a clinical perspective.

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