AORN Blog - The Periop Life

3 Words That Help Me Find Nurse-Life Balance

A Guest Post from Michelle Nolander, MSN, RN

Nurse-Life Balance

October 1, 2017

As a director of surgery, mom to a three-year-old and nine-month-old and a dedicated wife, my days are packed full. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The trick, of course, is finding the right balance to honor each role fully.

No matter what stage of life we are in, isn’t this the challenge we all face … making time to truly succeed in our professional life, while being fully present in our personal lives, and (gasp) finding a little time for ourselves?

After much trial and error (and daily refinement), I think I’ve found this harmony and it’s very exciting. What I’ve learned is that I am my best when I give dedicated time to be fully present in each stage of my day, whether I’m cuddling with my family in the morning, making time for a workout before a full day at work, taking a lunch break to feed my baby girl, or enjoying a family dinner before getting the kids to bed and spending time with my husband at the end of the day.

I have three words that help me stay on track with this balance.

The First Word Is: Prioritize.

"Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize." This often becomes a quiet mantra I say to myself throughout the day as anything and everything comes at me, including challenges, ideas, invitations, anything. We must work smart, not hard. If we aren’t always doing these checks and balances, what is most important to us will quickly get buried.

The Second Word Is: No.

I’ve learned that it is ok to say “no.” “No” at work to an unnecessary task. “No” at home to a floor that can be mopped a little later. If you are going to prioritize what you truly need to do, you have to be willing to say no to keep your focus.

The Third Word Is: Me.

Giving myself time for my morning workout is my one moment in the day that allows me to re-focus and regenerate at the center of this balance to keep it on track. We often forget about ourselves, especially as nurses. Remembering the “me” in your daily balance can be anything, whether you exercise, read a book, or even take time for a healthy breakfast. This “me” time is your energy source.

An important extension of taking time for you is sharing with others. We have to realize that no matter what phase of life we are in, everyone is trying to maintain this balance.

My favorite team-building activity helps me to remember we are all in the same boat. We put a small pile of rocks in the middle of the room with each rock representing a common life stressor. If one person pulls out each of their stressors and tries to carry them alone, the burden is too much to bear. When we help each other lighten the load, we can manage, just like in life.

I’m excited to meet up with my perioperative nurse colleagues next March at AORN’s annual conference to discuss clinical issues – but to also learn how they are finding successes with their own nurse-life balance.

Additional Resource

Take time for yourself to learn and share with colleagues at AORN’s 2018 Global Surgical Conference and Expo in New Orleans, March 24-28.