As a care professional, prioritising a healthy work-life balance is much easier said than done. No matter how rewarding your work is, it can feel nearly impossible to leave emotional clutter at work once you've clocked out.
Having said this, developing the skills and key tools to learn how to “switch off” once your shift is over is possible (and highly beneficial).
We’re here to provide you with five tips on how to leave work at work and finally enjoy your life off the clock – plus, information about why work-life balance is crucial for care professionals just like you.
The importance of work-life balance
No matter the profession, everyone can see benefits from efficiently managing their work and personal life. But for care professionals, the stress you endure on the job can make it even harder to stop thinking about work in your spare time.
Because of this, it's arguably even more important to implement a healthy work-life balance.
In fact, studies have shown that when healthcare organisations put initiatives in place to promote a better work-life balance for nursing staff, their teams engage better and are more productive on shifts.
Besides improving productivity, other benefits of having a harmonious work-life balance include:
- Decreased overall stress levels.
- Improved mental health.
- Less anxiety.
- Reduced physiological stress.
Now, here are five tips you can use to help you leave work at work.
1. Set hard deadlines to finish working
Unlike people in a traditional 9-to-5 job, care professionals work flexible hours that don’t always align with a typical 40-hour week. And when you're always thinking about what happened on shift while you’re off the clock, it drains you both mentally and physically.
So, how can we fix this? In a nutshell, by setting specific deadlines to stop working whenever your shift is over. By doing this, you're flipping a switch in your brain that turns off your work thoughts, allowing you to transition into your everyday life.
Tip: If you know you tend to stay a few minutes later after your shift, that's okay. Factor in the extra 5 or 10 minutes you need to recoup or finish any small tasks before heading out.
The most important part is committing to the deadline you set for yourself. Over time, this will become a habit, and it’ll become easier to limit your thoughts about work when you’re not on shift.
2. Establish clear boundaries with colleagues
Another tip you can use to leave work at work is establishing clear boundaries with your colleagues.
As a nurse, care assistant, or support worker, you’ll work with a range of people in lots of different environments. Regardless, it's essential to set clear, respectful boundaries about what you will and won’t do.
We get it – saying "no" as a care professional isn't always realistic. And because you’re a caring person, it might not be in your nature to cause confrontation or unnecessary conflict.
You should, however, set healthy boundaries with your coworkers about things like scheduling conflicts, meal breaks, and anything else that could affect your well-being.
3. Streamline managing your schedule
Managing your schedule as a care professional can be stressful, especially if you’re an agency worker. If you’re always running around trying to find shifts, your work-life balance might not be ideal. And at the end of a long day, the last thing you want to do is worry about scheduling conflicts.
If this sounds like you, using a tool to create a schedule and find shifts can help kick those work thoughts to the curb.
The Florence app, for example, is designed for care professionals just like you. You can pick the shifts that fit into your schedule and other commitments, check in and out with the app, and get your timesheet approved electronically. If you’re looking for a way to reduce mental clutter, Florence might just be the ideal solution.
4. Use your commute to mentally recover
Let's face it: we've all had those days when we can't unplug from our work thoughts completely. When this happens, your commute can be an ideal space to release all of the negative thoughts, feelings, and tension you have about work.
Do you have a two-hour train ride? A 20-minute drive in your car? Just walking down the street? Believe it or not, it doesn't really matter how long your commute even is.
Simply moving your body and changing locations can be a powerful technique for changing your thoughts. And moving between different environments has been shown to improve mental well-being.
So, the next time you need to decompress after a stressful day's work but can't quite seem to push away all the overwhelming thoughts about work, consider your commute.
5. Set aside time for things you enjoy
The truth is, you can't be your most productive self without having fun. One of the main reasons people push for a better work-life balance is that they want to do more of the things they enjoy doing.
The easiest way to find time for hobbies can be to create a slot in your busy schedule. Whether it's that old crochet project, diving into your favourite book, or cooking your favourite meal, set aside the time for it.
Making hobbies and activities part of your weekly schedule can help you feel more inclined to actually do them. Remember: self-care is productive, too.
The bottom line
There’s no doubt that maintaining a healthy work-life balance is much easier said than done, especially in the health and social care field – but it's not impossible.
You can start taking small steps in the right direction by using our tips on how to switch off after work. We believe in you!
Florence can help you find flexible shifts near you, take essential training courses and improve your work-life balance. Find out more and sign up today.
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