Nursing can be an extremely rewarding profession, but along with the positive impact nurses can make in people's lives comes, stress is also part of the job. As a nurse, you may find that your job is affecting your home life and relationships in a negative way.
Some of the stressors nurses can face include high workloads, time pressure, sleep deprivation, exposure to workplace violence and death and dying patients, according to Nikeisha Whatley-León, who is a licensed clinical psychotherapist and the system director for Behavioral Health Services at Northside Hospital in Atlanta.
"Nurses have worked many years in a culture of just dealing with what comes with the territory. The 'suck it up and carry on' mentality eventually catches up and takes a toll. Nurses are faced with the duty of carrying the patients' and the patients' family problems on their shoulders," she explained in an email.
The following are five signs that your job is probably affecting your relationships in a negative way, according to Whatley-León:
1. Increased irritability
Work stress can cause nurses to become frustrated or upset at home quicker.
"You may be more irritable due to lack of sleep and your mood is affected," Whatley-León wrote.
2. Decreased interest in intimacy
Your spouse may complain that you have less of a desire to be physically close to him or her.
3. Home life is less of a priority.
"Your social life and leisure time are sacrificed due to work. You rarely take vacations, and if you do, you're preoccupied with work," Whatley-León wrote. And when you're at home, you still find yourself thinking and talking about work.
4. Greater emotional distance
You may feel emotionally wiped out by work, so, much like a decrease in physical intimacy, you may also have a decrease in emotional closeness with your spouse. You may become isolated and disconnected from him or her as you become numb to, and checked out of, your relationships.
5. Work becomes the priority.
Work becomes more of a priority than your relationship/home life, which suffers as a result.
How to keep your job from negatively affecting your home life
Whatley-León suggested that "… the key to knowing when and where to get your emotional support needs met is key in balancing work and home life."
She offered the following tips to help prevent your job from negatively affecting your relationship:
- Be gentle with yourself and on your relationship.
- Reach out to your spouse rather than taking your frustrations out on him or her.
- Make time for your relationship, including scheduled date nights.
- Set boundaries with your work schedule.
- Learn ways to decompress from work before you walk in the door at home.
- Know where to go for support – such as your colleagues, your employee assistance program (EAP), a mentor and local behavioral health providers – and don't hesitate to ask for help.
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