Work life balance – a myth or can it be reality?

#HelloMyNameIs Femke, and I am a third year student children’s nurse.

You have finally finished a week of two night shifts and one long day. Next week you know you have three long days in a row and then the week after that you only have nights. It definitely looks like a few weeks of exhausting hard work. You also get public transport or have to drive a long distance to get to placement which means you basically get back home, maybe eat something, shower and then bed to repeat the process all over again. Tiring right? And then at the same time we are often told to have a work life balance. This can sometimes feel pretty unrealistic especially with the number of things we all as student nurses have to do.

I am now a final year student and as daunting as that sounds to me, I now also must write a dissertation of 8,000 words. We all have to balance assignment work and placement sometimes, but it becomes a juggling act to try and add some sort of social life into the mix of it all as well. And just to put the cherry on the cake, life can get in the way too. For example, I am currently feeling unwell, so I have no motivation to do anything, apart from writing this blog of course 😊. I know my body needs a rest now so today is my day off. However, if life does get too much it is important to talk to someone, that may be a friend, a family member or a tutor. Completely up to you but make sure you confide in someone if things are getting too much.

I did a little research on having a work life balance and the Mental Health Foundation conducted a survey looking into this and found that 40% of employees neglect other aspects of their life, 27% feel depressed, 34% feel anxious and 58% feel irritable. This doesn’t paint a very positive picture…probably a bit demotivating to read, so let’s stay positive and talk about a few things we can do to achieve a healthy work life balance. Firstly, prioritise your work, I know that placement goes first, and I need to make sure I am prepared for it and that I have had a good night sleep. Secondly, I know I need to dedicate time to work on my assignments, stick to this time, make sure you take a break and then go back. If you work better at home, stay at home. If you work better in the library, go to the library. Know your boundaries and know yourself. Get a calendar, and mark the days you are on placement, days you are doing assignment work and then treat yourself to days off. Yes, I do mean an actual day off, go and do something that makes you happy, see your friends, see your family, if you been on night shifts go out and enjoy that glories daylight!

I think we can all agree that we work hard and sometimes need to remind ourselves that we are doing a good job and deserve a break to fit some of our social life into this juggling act. If you’re a gym person (unlike me) go! If your part of a society, go! If you want to plan a day trip somewhere, go! Or if you want to do absolutely nothing on your days off, go for it! Do whatever makes you happy. Plan things ahead to give yourself something to look forward to and that keeps you motivated.

To those still reading, I thank you, this is my first time writing a blog so please bear with me. To finish off I thought I will include some quotes to keep us all motivated and something to think about;

“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” – Dolly Parton

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” – Audrey Hepburn

“We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘To Do’ list” – Michelle Obama

“Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices.” – Betsy Jacobson

Good luck to you all whatever year you are in, remember to try your very best to have a work life balance but know that we can do this and we will. You are all doing a good job, remember that.

Femke x

Author: Femke Sinjou,  Year 3 Student

Disclaimer: This blog contains personal opinions of students only and does not necessarily represent the views of the Children’s Nursing team, School of Health Sciences or the University of Surrey.

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