Work-Life Balance in Healthcare – Part 2

Last week we heard from Amy Hornig, PharmD ’07 about tips for work-life balance at work and this week we hear tips from her for work-life balance at home.

At home:

  • Stay organized. For me, setting up a household calendar so that nothing was forgotten or overlooked was a LIFE CHANGER. This allows everything to run smoothly leaving more time for things that really matter. Also, meal planning/preparation and getting into a routine in the morning free up time that might otherwise be spent looking for keys, finishing homework or a school project, or making extra stops at the store. While this routine can be difficult to implement at first, once it is in place it will become automatic!

  • Unplug. The same technology that can give some workers the flexibility to work from home also can burn us out if we use them 24/7, and can have negative consequences on work-life balance.  This is the result of people always being connected; so many healthcare professionals never really stop working! Let your home life be quality time away from work—in general, my rule of thumb is that I don’t answer work emails after working hours, when at all possible. If someone needs me in an emergency, they know to call me on the phone. This allows me to leave work issues at work, and home issues at home. Taking time away from work can prevent overworking and can lead to a higher level of productivity in the long run.

  • Treat your body right—make time for your health! Some studies point out that healthcare workers are generally less healthy than workers in other industries are. This might seem strange, but when you take into account the long hours and busy pace at work, combined with the stress of balancing home life, it becomes easy to understand how self-care goes to the back burner. But being physically active can reduce depression and anxiety, and enables people to better cope with adversity. This in turn increases your tolerance to stress and reduces sick days—setting time aside for exercise and routine care visits is essential for your health. Eat right, exercise, and get adequate rest!

  • Identify priorities—don’t over commit! Learning to say “no” was hard for me. I constantly wanted to help at the kids’ school, wanted to volunteer to take on bigger projects at work, and wanted to be able to spend more time with my friends and family. I was always a “yes” woman! When I found myself over-scheduled and overwhelmed, I had to take a hard look at what was filling my time, and if it was important to me. If you are over-scheduled with activities, you need to periodically take a step back and identify the things that really matter. When balancing work and life with a career in healthcare, things get hectic, and it is not always possible to do everything perfectly. Things that are not priorities need to fade into the background. One example might be worrying less about having a spotless home, as it will allow for more quality family time. Another tip: divide and conquer! Make sure responsibilities at home are evenly distributed and clearly defined—this will avoid confusion and problems later down the road.

  • Get help and support if you need it. This might mean chatting with friends and family to help a little more with your home life schedule, or if you are persistently overwhelmed it might mean seeking help from a mental health professional. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness—taking care of yourself is a sign of strength!

While stressful at times, healthcare workers CAN have it all—a fulfilling work and home life—as long as they can realize the challenges and steps to take to avoid any potential paths to burnout!

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