The Nurse Work-Life-Fitness Balance

how nurses can do it all

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So this post was requested by a lot of my nursing babes as being a nurse can leave you really emotionally, physically, and mentally drained during the week. BUT! I like to think that this post really applies to anyone as I know so many of us are just BUSY. I will say, that I do feel like nursing has a special place in hell in terms of being so exhausting but we’re all tired, we all work hard, and we all want to find ways to balance it all. So let’s chat about how to do that!

First, I’m going to talk about tips on how to “do it all” in general, and then I’ll get a little more specific into how I plan my week around my nursing shifts. I think the biggest thing first and foremost is deciding what your priorities are. People say to me, I don’t know how you workout after the hospital. Or, I don’t get how you are able to blog full time and still work as a nurse. And while it’s definitely tiring at times, it comes down to priorities. I know that each day a workout is a priority. I know that my blog is my priority. And obviously, working at the hospital is a priority. I mean, that one isn’t really by choice, but you know what I’m saying. So, those three main things pretty much dictate my time and I plan my days around them.

That being said, there are days that I’ve had to turn down lunch with friends, or decide that I can’t watch my favorite tv show at night because I need to stay up to work on the blog, meet a deadline for a collaboration, or maybe just get my workout in. While that isn’t the most fun, I know what my main priorities are and again, my day to day revolves around getting meeting those. So for you, you have to look at ‘what are my non-negotiables?’ What are the things each week that you “have to” do. In deciding this you will get into a routine and habit of finding ways to get those done!

While these main areas are usually where my time gets devoted to, each day is a little bit different. Each morning (or the night before) I make a list with the items that must get done the next day. A lot of these are work related (ie. a blog post, Instagram photos), while others are my workout, maybe lunch with my husband Stephen. All major things get accounted for so I can plan accordingly.

So speaking about planning accordingly, the next big thing is time management. At the beginning of the day I start with my most important task first. Now, I do like to get my workout done in the mornings, but sometimes I just have to post-pone it for later in the day. Because while I know it needs to get done, it’s something I am doing only for me. It’s not the same as a blog or Instagram deadline that I have to meet. So those tasks get done first.

Now I’m going to jump into more specifically how I balance everything with nursing.

Before I do though, if you really want to nail down your time management I’d highly recommend checking out this post from The Skinny Confidential (may be purchasing a time cube shortly…). Okay, so onto nursing…

For all of us who are nurses (or in nursing school!) the days are long and pretty damn exhausting. Even days that I’m not “busy” at work, I’m like why do I feel so drained? When it comes down to it, there are plenty of days (okay, basically every day) after work that I don’t feel like I have the energy to workout. But again, it goes back to my priorities. Getting a workout in is just what must be done! I mean, does it have to be done? No. But I know myself, and know that I wouldn’t be content if I didn’t workout 5-6 days a week. Again, that is just me. We all have different priorities. But point being is, working out after the hospital is pretty much a non-negotiable. Now, there are definitely shifts that I leave the hospital feeling beyond exhausted and I end up not working out. This probably happens once every couple months. But if I had that attitude after every shift my gym sessions would definitely fall off. So here’s what I do:

At the beginning of each week, I plan my easiest and quickest workouts for the days that I work at the hospital. So I clearly NEVER do leg day after work. I may do a quick arm & ab workout, or a shoulder & back workout. Or maybe you choose to do your 35 minutes of LISS (low intensity steady state) on those days. Or maybe you do 25 minutes of abs at home. There are so many options of what you can do before or after your shift. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, but anything is better than nothing. I also feel like it just puts me in a better headspace. I’m like yay! My whole day wasn’t devoted just to work, I did something for me. I also always make one of my rest days a day that I work. I know a lot of people choose Sunday as their rest day, but if I’m at the hospital Monday-Wednesday, I’m definitely not taking a rest day Sunday! I usually make my rest day after either my second or third shift. Of course I’m the most tired after my third shift, but knowing that I don’t have to get up for work the next day gives me that extra boost of energy to get that workout done.

So, I hope these tips were helpful! I do have another post up that more specifically talks about how you can maintain healthy habits and your workout routine as a nurse (click here to read 🙂 ). But in general, I think a lot of it comes down to priorities. You can’t say yes to everything and expect to get it all done, and to get it done well for that matter. So, you just have to decide what is truly important to you and start from there!

Any other tips you guys want to share?? Let us all know in the comments!

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Claire Guentz
Claire is a registered nurse in a medical intensive care unit and is a digital media influencer. She currently lives in Raleigh/Durham, NC.