Two nurses meditating

The Balancing Game: Work vs. Life

As nurses, our chosen profession poses challenges for us to live a balanced lifestyle. Evaluating your goals and readjusting your life to meet those goals are essential to achieving a healthy work/life balance.

At work, we have no control over the unforeseen challenges; however, how we deal with these challenges can make or break our day. Are we being perfectionistic? Perfection is necessary for patient safety, but excellent care in all other aspects of patient care can be achieved without perfection. Are we being critical instead of mentoring to excellence? Are we spending too much time listening to a “caustic” co-worker?

At home, there are chores to do; the mundane day-to-day things that must get done. Are we spending too much time on the mundane and not enough time on the things that we enjoy, that refresh our being? Do we take ample time for ourselves; get enough sleep, have a hobby, enjoy a cuddle? Do we bring work home; look at work emails, relive the day, and worry about what we might have done wrong or did not get done?

Focusing on the negative can sap our energy, while a positive focus can bring us a sense of achievement and satisfaction. Below are a few tips for obtaining a sensible work-life balance:

  1. Let go of perfectionism: The more complicated your life, the less time there is for perfection. The healthier choice is to strive for excellence.
  2. Unplug: Technology keeps us in constant contact, shut off your phone and enjoy the moment.
  3. Exercise/Meditate: Dedicate time during the week to self-care. Start with a few moments of deep breathing during the day to lift your spirits and calm your nerves.
  4. Limit time-wasting activities and people: Identity what is important in your life. Draw boundary lines so you have more time to devote to high-priority people and goals.
  5. Change your life structure: Prioritize. Delegate in ways that benefit other people by giving them opportunities to grow. This will give them a chance to learn something new while freeing you to devote time to your higher priorities.
  6. Start small and build from there: Make a small change, experience success and then build on that success.

Having a healthy work/life balance is a choice and it will take work to maintain. Determining what is important to you is paramount. Making small changes now can reap larger rewards in the future. It’s your life; make it the best it can be for the sake of your happiness and health.

For more on stress reduction for nurses, check out the CE course, “Stress Relief for the Healthcare Professional” at

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Boertje, J. & Ferron, L. (2013). Achieving a work-life balance. American Nurse Today. Retrieved from here Lee, D. (2014). 6 tips for better work life balance. Retrieved from here Simmons, S. (2012). Striving for work-life balance. American Journal of Nursing: 112:1, pp. 25-26. doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000410173.98529.f6.