How Nurses Can Add More Balance to Their Lives

For Nurses Week I had the opportunity to be a guest speaker to several different nursing groups where I spoke on the subject of living a more balanced life. One thing that all caregivers have in common is trying to stay healthy. Another challenge that we as nurses face is finding a way to balance caring for ourselves, caring for our patients and also caring for the people we love in our lives. Here are four strategies that we should all incorporate into our lives for balance.

Setting healthy boundaries

Many of us give all day at work and then provide care to children or aging parents when we’re not at work. Try to think of yourself like you would your bank account – there is a finite amount of resources.  If we give all of our energetic reserves away by taking care of others, we eventually feel empty and depleted. The inspiring documentary States of Grace  allows us into the lives of a family system altered by a near fatal car crash where the physician and primary caretaker is now the patient. As caretakers, we have a lot to learn from the honest relationships this family reveals and the boundary setting created by the character thrust into the undesirable role of caretaker.

My coworker finding balance on a slackline

My coworker finding balance on a slackline

 Let go of your perfectionist

Who would you be if you weren’t trying to be so perfect all the time? Most of us live our lives with our inner critic in the drivers seat. Our actions throughout the day are regulated by how we want to portray ourselves to others. Between our own standards and the judgments from others, we leave little room to be human and make mistakes. A doctor once told me “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”. That doctor was Dr. Seuss.

 Incorporate more joy in your life

Investigate who, and what makes you happy, and then start adding that into your day – even if you have to schedule it. We all have people in our life that drain us. To be clear, I am not talking about the friend that is going through a new difficulty and needs support. Friendship is a give and take process and it’s important and nourishing to listen and connect through tough times. I’m referring to the chronic complainer, you know who they are, the glass half-empty person who leaves you exhausted.  Going forward, try to limit your time together, both in person or on the phone, instead try spending more time with the people that make you laugh and bring joy into your life? Think about what activities brighten your day? What kind of impact does a yoga class, a walk in the woods or at the beach have on you? Which friend always leaves you with a smile on your face? Now take a look at your calendar and schedule a little more joy today.

 Learn to say no

Nurses are helpers; it is in our genetic makeup to say yes. However, many of us say yes when we want to say no. We say yes because we feel guilty saying no, or because we have no idea how to say no without disappointing others. And then we find ourselves caught in the cycle of overcommitting with no personal time left for ourselves. Here are a couple of tips on getting to NO.

Sense into your body and feel what your gut reaction is to the request. Does your body contract or expand? Listen to your intuitive response and respond from there. Sometimes we may need to carry out actions even when our body contracts, but that's okay too, remember that connecting into the body allows us to be more aware of our inner selves, which in the end can help us to determine when we can say no. If you have difficulty saying no, try these responses:

“I’d really love to but I’m responsible for xyz and that requires my attention right now”.

 “I won’t be able to do that right now, but here’s what I CAN do. Would that work for you”? 

 We all have the ability to find a greater sense of peace in our lives and I hope some of these steps move you in that direction.



This is a re-post from May, 2015 and is part of the Nurse Blog CarnivalMore posts on this topic can be found at http://thebossynurse.comIf you are interested in participating find out more details and sign up.

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