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Healthcare Workers

Maintaining Relationships Outside of Work as a Healthcare Worker 

Treyvon Kurr
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Choosing a career in healthcare means committing to long hours and hard shifts. Especially if you are relatively new to the field, it can be difficult to create an excellent work-life balance as a healthcare worker. Maintaining outside relationships may feel like a chore. 

However, whilst it may be difficult, it is not impossible with a little effort and forward planning. Moreover, socializing with friends and other contacts outside of work is a significant part of creating a wonderful life for yourself. Here are several tips and tricks to help you better navigate the balance between work and free time. 

Identify Your Priorities 

Despite what TV shows and movies about healthcare workers might have you believe, achieving a balance between work life and personal life remains challenging for healthcare workers. It is almost impossible to work full days, look after your family, socialize with all your friends, and invest time into professional development all in the same week. 

To achieve a balance, you need to identify what your priorities are. Let us start by looking at your work. With the chronic labor shortage in the healthcare sector, you will likely be offered extra shifts on a weekly basis. Ask yourself whether you need the additional salary more than you need time away from work. 

There is no right or wrong answer that suits everyone. If you are saving toward a particular goal, taking on that extra shift might be worthwhile. On the other hand, if your kids need a little more support with their homework, saying no to another shift may be the better choice. Identifying your priorities helps you make better decisions. 

Learn to Say No and Set Boundaries 

Learning to say no picks up where the previous point left off and applies to both your work life and your personal life. None of us can be in two places at once, and that means saying no to a colleague’s request to pick up a shift or a friend’s appeal to join a charity fundraiser. 

Many healthcare workers are naturally inclined to want to please people and find it difficult to say no. But there is no alternative if you are looking to achieve a balance. Setting boundaries includes turning off work-related notifications when you’re not on-call or at work, for example. Equally, if you need time to wind down from an exhausting shift, consider turning your phone off and simply going for a walk. The goal is to use your energy wisely and make time to recharge. 

Plan Ahead 

Many healthcare workers know their shifts a week or several weeks in advance. If that is the case with you, start planning and scheduling meetings with friends as well as family time. 

Planning like this has several advantages. First, you avoid missing out on opportunities to spend time with friends and family. Second, making plans gives you something to look forward to. Especially if you are going through a particularly busy and challenging period, knowing that you have non-work plans can be enough to keep you motivated and focused. 

Be Open About the Challenges of Achieving a Work-Life Balance 

Hand on heart, even with the biggest amount of planning and setting boundaries, you are bound to have moments when your work-life balance slips. It’s important to understand that you’re not alone. Your healthcare colleagues and many other professionals experience the same difficulties. 

Share your concerns with your family and friends and do not be afraid to ask for help. Consider making a list of chores for all members of your household to ensure everything gets done and everyone pitches in. Your colleagues, friends, and family may also have ideas to help you balance your work life and private life better. 

Opening up about the challenges you are facing does not make you look weak. It will help others open up, too. But, more importantly, you are likely to discover new strategies and approaches that help you maintain relationships outside of work without added stress. 

For many healthcare providers and healthcare workers, their profession is also a calling. They understand the demands that come with the field. But making sure you achieve a better work balance does not diminish your dedication to your field. On the contrary, it helps you focus and perform more efficiently in the long term. 

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