If you are devoted to public health and work in healthcare, it’s easy to get carried away by the negative emotions you experience while watching others in distress. However, it is important to find the right balance so you can enjoy the many rewards of working in this field. Rest and enjoyment are crucial for any human being to function healthily, especially those who witness others’ pain, illness and death.
It is natural to want to help others, but when you work in a healthcare setting, you will encounter sick people every day. Occasionally, global and local disease outbreaks and natural disasters can lead to a surplus of patients who need care. In such situations, spending more time at the clinic might be tempting, but it is important to remember that doing so can put a much more significant burden on your mental health than you may be able to bear.
What is work-life balance?
Work-life balance refers to the way you balance your time between work and your personal life. A poor work-life balance occurs when most of your time and energy is focused on one and the other suffers. Too much work and too much rest are equally harmful. Ideally, you want to give equal time and energy to both.
Those with a healthy work-life balance often figure out how to work efficiently so it takes less time. This gives them more time to focus on their personal life. Someone who can’t prioritize tasks, has poor time management skills and is an inefficient worker will almost always have a poor work-life balance.
The dangers of a poor work-life balance
You may be wondering why a healthy work-life balance matter. Unfortunately, a poor-work life balance can crush your productivity and lead to dissatisfaction, burnout and even depression in the long term.
Snapping at colleagues, dozing off at work, a lack of focus when performing a task, forgetting to do important things, and relying on caffeine or smoking to get you through the day are all possible negative outcomes of having a poor work-life balance. These may seem minor, but when accompanied by copious amounts of stress and anxiety, they can easily make you feel burned out and even depressed.
Another negative side effect of a poor work-life balance is that it can physically, mentally, and emotionally exhaust you. On top of the usual pessimism associated with burnout, it is common for those working in healthcare to feel hopeless, especially if they witness death. Any time away from work should be spent feeling positive emotions to compensate for the negative ones.
Other disadvantages include a lack of concentration while working, the inability to give adequate attention to patients, slower cognitive function, and poor teamwork. All of these are detrimental to your mental health and have consequences for your colleagues and the patients who are there to receive treatment. The most important thing for a healthcare unit is the ability of all its workers to work together. This means that any individual working in a healthcare setting who is unable to balance their work and personal life could become a liability to the healthcare setting rather than an asset.
All of this can be avoided simply by having a healthy work-life balance. Taking your personal life, social commitments, and hobbies along with your work helps you maintain a strong work-life balance. Firmly enforcing boundaries at your work according to your limits and ensuring the time you spend away from work is fulfilling and refreshing are some practices that can help with such situations.
How do you improve your work-life balance?
One study found that over a quarter of full-time employees think it has become more challenging to balance work and life in the past five years. If you’re someone who struggles with the same issue, you can consider the following tips to improve your situation.
Recognize your problem areas
First, note down the things that you identify as being your triggers. This could be complex patients, inadequate rest, or working overtime, among others. Next, decide to what extent you can tolerate these triggers. This is important because we can handle things that bother us, but only to a specific limit.
Once you figure that out, you can work on setting boundaries. You must establish these limits to allow yourself to get as much rest time and avoid as many of your triggers as possible. This ensures that you always function at maximum efficiency and prioritize your health and mind, which ultimately leads to an improved performance at work that will benefit your patient and the healthcare setting.
Improve your time management
Many of us struggle to manage our time correctly. A simple way anyone can manage their time better is by making a to-do list and dedicating specific time to each task. Including breaks in your list will benefit you greatly. It is also essential to figure out how to eliminate distractions. Adding limits to social media apps or restricting access to websites where you tend to waste most of your time is a great way to reduce distractions.
Optimizing your work-related tasks by doing similar jobs together in a process known as batching is another way one can reduce the time spent on tasks that are similar in nature. Allocating specific parts of the day to specific tasks can also help. For example, you can answer emails first thing when you come to work and right before you leave.
Recognize the importance of breaks
One way to boost your performance while working is by taking frequent breaks. This can help any individual who has been working to feel rested and rejuvenated. In healthcare settings, you will inevitably witness a surplus of patients undergoing treatment for various diseases, disabilities, and other problems, which can take quite a toll on your mind. Therefore, taking breaks gives you a much-needed opportunity to restore your mental health.
Taking a break is also good for improving cognitive function and decision-making, which is important because working in healthcare involves solving problems and optimizing results. This isn’t limited to treating a patient; you will be able to think more clearly about how to improve the clinical setting you work in and even focus on your personal growth. For example, a nurse with a master’s in nursing could improve the clinical environment with their experience in improving teamwork in nursing, which is vital for the success of any clinical setting. This is one of the topics that is addressed by Walsh University’s online nursing degree programs.
Separate work and life
Another good tip is to separate your work from your personal life. This means leaving work-related problems at your job. You could visualize putting all your work-related issues in a box, locking that box as you walk away from work, and then re-opening that box every time you step back into your office. It will create a separation between your work and your personal life. Through that separation, you can enjoy your time away from work guilt-free.
Set realistic goals
Failing to accomplish your goals often leads to dissatisfaction at work, and if you set unrealistically high ideals that weren’t achievable in the first place, you will inevitably feel disappointed. Experts believe that you should let go of perfectionistic tendencies at work as they only hinder your ability to perform well. When you adopt a more realistic mindset and focus on what you can actually achieve rather than the unrealistic idea of what you should do, you are much more likely to excel at work and be more efficient. As a bonus, when you set these goals, achieving them will make you feel more confident in your skills and improve your self-worth.
Don’t underestimate the power of self-care
One important thing to remember is that even with a busy schedule, you should never miss out on self-care. Taking care of your physical health by exercising, pampering your skin to rid it of signs of stress, and eating nutritious food are all necessary. Adding small skincare steps and adopting a physical exercise routine will add more structure to your life and make you feel better about yourself. Exercising is known to improve mental function by releasing endorphins, giving you much more clarity and boosting your physical health.
Taking good care of yourself can be a great way to relax and boost your mood. Even smaller things like cooking your favorite meal and occasionally treating yourself to a dessert or a gift can help you feel more energized and motivated.
Why is work-life balance important?
When you have time to yourself, you can think about how you can enhance your life. This could be working toward a promotion, improving yourself by adding some new skills to your resume, or finding a new hobby you enjoy, such as painting. Human beings are happiest when they are focused on their personal growth. Nothing can rival the joy you get from watching your progress in any aspect of your life. Conversely, when you spend too much time working, you don’t have enough to reflect on yourself, and this can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction.
In recent years, many studies have found that individuals with a healthy work-life balance tend to work harder and are more likely to stay with their employer. They also have greater productivity because they are much happier and more motivated than those with a poor work-life balance.