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Mindset: The Key to Creating Balance

How do nurses create change, develop balance and relieve stress?

Are nursing leadership and work life balance contradictory terms? Many nurses are wondering if this idea of a balanced life is fact or fiction. Many organizations state they promote "work life balance" as a recruiting tool. When speaking to those same nursing leaders, the feeling of balance seems to be elusive. I had a great conversation this week with a fellow nurse friend of mine about how we attain equilibrium in our lives as nurse leaders. What became very clear early in our conversation is that managing our careers is difficult to say the least. There are so many things you have to coordinate i.e. yourself, your staff, (direct and indirect reports), co-workers, your upper management team and don't forget the work itself!  Then we have a "Life" that also needs management. Relationships with spouses, partners, children, grandchildren and parents pose their own challenges. Handling personal finances is another factor where achieving balance necessitates confrontation.  In today's economy, so many nurses I know work more than one job. Nurses in management may experience some limits since they are salaried and already work long hours.  

Balance vs Imbalance
In all of these arenas, balance is the key to having a great life!  If we don't balance all of these areas well, we may become discouraged and lose our passion and joy in what we do which leads to burnout. 

Burnout is the result of imbalance.  Frustration, disappointment and stress are encompassing nursing leaders in homecare, at the bedside and behind the desk (depending on where you work). Expectations of higher productivity, increasing demands to do more with less, the squeeze between staff and company goals intensifies the stress nurses feel. That stress makes for short tempers which can lead to episodes of disrespect and bullying which plague our profession. 

Create Change
How do we create change in our lives, develop balance and relieve the stress from these situations?  One way is to make sure you give yourself a pat on the back. Toot your own horn!  Let your friends, families, coworkers and leadership teams know what you do.  Nurses do not do this enough! Some would look at this as bragging.  It is not!  Is it a wonder the general public doesn't know what nurses DO?  

Believe it or not, self-appreciation is a great stress reliever. The fact that we can and do give so much to others should be appreciated by us FIRST! As we learn to really appreciate the work we do, we receive the joy from the work and compassion that we unselfishly share with our patients and co-workers. 

Greet each day with a sense of purpose and vision.  Don't wait for someone else to do for you what you can do for yourself!  You are worthy to be APPRECIATED and live a life that's stress free!
Happiness vs Joy
Another way we can create more balance is to make an assessment of our mindset.  Are you looking for happiness at work?  First let me tell you that happiness is relevant.  Happiness is an outside job.  It is dependent on so many external influences.  That's why it's elusive to so many people.  External influences are factors like other people's attitudes, patients, staff or the environment.  Dependence on these factors for your happiness on any given day will be sketchy at best. Joy, on the other hand, is an inside job.  It's a mindset you carry inside yourself based largely on your beliefs about your place in this world.  Joy brings confidence and is not as easily influenced by outside forces. However, you have to protect it and nourish it. One way to do that is by taking time for yourself. 

What Can I Do?
Here are 3 tips to help you create a shift in your mindset so you can live a balanced life in 2016.

1. Clear the clutter out of your environment. - Clutter leads to confusion and indecisiveness. Are you looking for things and can't find them or finding things you forgot you had?  Organizing your physical environment is a great beginning to help you get and keep your mind clear and your thoughts in order.

2. Take time for reflection. - All too often we are sooo. busy.  We move from one task to another quickly without even thinking.   How can you figure out where you're going if you never take time to think about where you've been or better yet, where you are and where you want to go?  When you accomplish a goal, take time to assess, reflect and evaluate its impact on your overall life.  In order to determine your path in this journey of life, and make things happen, take some time to reflect. 

3. Take action! - Procrastination is the major killer of potential.  We are all born with the potential to be great at something.  By staying in situations where we are comfortable and not challenged, we slow our personal growth and end up not living the life we were meant to live.  Take action!  Stretch out. Start small, but stay persistent. Don't stop!   You will see how your life will blossom as living your journey becomes easier and more enjoyable.

Nurses are notorious for putting the needs and desires of others in front of their own.  We often say things like "I don't have time to do anything for myself" or "I'll make time after I do this for my _______." (Usually filled with patient, kids etc.)

As nurses, your patients look to you to be their advocates. As nursing leaders, your staff looks to you for guidance and care. Our families look to us as a resource for everything that goes on in their lives. If you REALLY care about them, you absolutely must put yourself first. You will be able to improve patient care by improving your self-care. You will improve the quality of your life if you take the time to advocate and care for yourself. Believe me, if you want real change and real balance, you have to know and act like YOU ARE WORTH IT!

The truth is: You can't' give what you don't have!

So, have better health, have more joy in your life, decrease stress, and enjoy your career as a nurse.  Make a decision, right now, that you will take care of number ONE!  Bring the positive results you achieve from being balanced to everything you do.

Here's to you!

Naomi Jones is a registered nurse, motivational speaker and life coach. You can follow her on Twitter @lifecoachRN and read her site www.lifecoachRN

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