How do I separate my work life balance as a Carer/ Nurse?

What is meant by a work-life balance

Work-life balance can be defined as: Having sufficient control and autonomy over where, when and how you work to fulfil your responsibilities within and outside paid work (Work Foundation 2006).

Work-Life vs Life work

We all know how hard it is to switch off after a long day at work. Achieving a good quality of life often depends on how well you balance between the demands of employment and responsibilities outside of the workplace i.e. the work-life balance. Many healthcare professionals including Carers and Nurses often struggle to switch off after finishing work. We often have to balance many elements to our role while at work and this can over spill when we leave work and visa versa. Many staff often say they struggle to stop thinking about work when they finish their shift and go home. They wonder if they have done everything, did they hand over everything? Some staff often report that they struggle to sleep at night, as elements of job are going around in their head. Alternatively, if we have a busy home life this can affect your work life such as financial worries, family, balancing of time.

The impact of a poor work life balance can be seen below. This can have physical, psychological or behavioural affects.

Impact of Work Life Balance on Individual

Physical

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Dizzyness
  • Breathlessness
  • Hypertension
  • Headaches
  • Feeling of weakness
  • Obesity

Psychological

  • Depression
  • Boredom
  • Anxiety
  • Negativity
  • Lethargy
  • Suspicion
  • Indifference

Behavioural

  • Overeating
  • Smoking, Alcoholism and other forms of substance dependence/abuse
  • Irritability, Anger
  • Impulsive Behaviour
  • Inability to manage self and interpersonal relations

There are several ways that are suggested to help staff regain a good work life balance:

  • Ensure you take allocated breaks- although this can be difficult at times. Taking breaks allows your body and mind to rest.
  • Employers having policies on flexible working including flexi-hours, child-friendly hours, maternity leave, complying with Working Time Regulations 1998.
  • Communicating with employer regarding any difficulties with work-life balance.
  • Taking time to unwind after work such as taking a hot bath, doing exercise, watching a film etc.

Why does it matter to employers?

Achieving a good work-life balance could also be beneficial for employers. The benefits of flexible working opportunities have been shown to:

  • improve staff performance
  • reduce unplanned staff absences
  • support the recruitment and retention of staff.