While there are many positives to working in health care, most of these jobs require the ability to work nights, weekends, and holidays. Even if you regularly workday shifts, you may be asked to cover a night shift every now and again if another employee takes PTO or is out unexpectedly.
Working for an employer that is often open 24/7 leaves room for burnout if you make yourself constantly available. Here are seven true tips for navigating a positive work-life balance in health care.
Invest in Yourself and Your Career
Investing in yourself and your career are important ways to stay motivated and up-to-date. Is there a training you’d like to take or a certification that interests you? Your employer may cover the cost if it directly relates to your job. Read through company policies or reach out to your supervisor or HR rep for available options.
Investing in yourself doesn’t have to be directly related to your career, though. For example, maybe you work as a surgical tech but have a passion for food. You could consider taking a cooking class or starting a food blog in your free time. Maintaining hobbies and interests outside of work is healthy and will add fulfillment to your life beyond what you do for a living.
Choose a Realistic Schedule
This one may be easier said than done. However, it’s essential to advocate for your scheduling needs and talk through any issues as they come up with your leadership team.
For example, you might want to take a class or enroll your child in swim lessons one afternoon a week. Communicate with the person in charge of scheduling as soon as you know about commitments that could affect working hours. Good communication gives you the best chance of having time off when it’s needed.
And remember, it’s ok to say no sometimes. While it’s essential to be a team player, it’s also ok to say no to picking up any extra shift that may come your way. While a solid team relies on everyone picking up the slack at times, you also need time to recharge. So, make sure you balance your workload with your other priorities outside of work.
Develop True Friendships
You may see the same faces every day or work in a large unit where you see several faces. Developing friendships may be more challenging if you work in a larger unit however, keep in mind that being friendly with coworkers will lead to feeling more positive at work. Remember that the people you work with are people, and while you should always be professional, getting to know your coworkers better can be super rewarding.
Consider starting small by offering someone a compliment. For example, you may like a headband your coworker is wearing or a scrub cap. This can open the door to further conversation and shared interests. If you hit it off, it could lead to a new friendship!
Having a friend you can share the highs and lows of working in health care can make a world of difference.
Leave Work at Work
This is challenging for most of us and may be impractical if you’re on call as part of your job. However, it’s crucial to separate work life from home life. If you struggle with this, consider keeping a journal in your car. You can write down any leftover tasks you’d like to accomplish during the next shift, any stressors or positives from the workday, and anything else bouncing around in your mind. Verywell Mind explains how journaling can be a valuable tool to reduce stress and anxiety and provide clarity to thoughts that may seem jumbled.
Use Your PTO
Taking breaks is crucial to mental wellness. Fancy vacations are nice, but remember that you don’t have to take your PTO all at once. Consider a staycation or a relaxing personal day if a big trip isn’t in your future.
For example, you could book a spa day, go for a hike, visit a museum, or try a new restaurant in town. Or if staying in is more your style, stay in your pj’s all day and relax to a tv show, movie, or favorite book. The possibilities are endless, so make sure to use your well-deserved vacation days.
Ask For Help When Needed
Asking for help can feel challenging. However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with your workload or unsure how to complete a skill, it’s essential to reach out to someone.
When asking a coworker for help, show appreciation and offer to help them in return when needed. Part of being on a health care team is both providing and receiving support. So, just because you needed help one day doesn’t mean you can’t be the go-to person for someone else who needs help on another day.
Prioritize Your Health
It’s important to remember that to be at your best in the workplace, you need to take care of yourself. This means keeping up with regular appointments and checking in with a health care provider when something seems off.
It also means taking time to eat healthy food, exercise, and prioritize your mental health, not just your physical health. When you do things to make yourself feel good, you’ll be happier all around.
Hopefully, you can implement these tips in your current place of work. If you’re looking for a change or some extra pay, consider available contract staffing roles with Arbor Associates. As leaders in health care staffing, we understand the importance of a work-life balance and can help you find the right position to meet your needs!