How to Have a Life Outside of Nursing

by | Jul 18, 2016 | 10 comments

How to Have a Life Outside of NursingI don’t know about you, but nursing is a busy career. Working 12 hour (OK, let’s be honest… who gets out in twelve hours anymore?) shifts, taking calls at home, covering short staffing… I mean the list goes on and on (and on).

In fact, a few months ago I asked a question about what surprised nurses most about nursing once they’d been working in the profession for a while. One nurse responded saying it was hard to have a life outside of work:

I think what surprised me most was how much time I spent “working” in addition to my 12 hour shifts. Energetically taking work home with me, attending classes and trainings, and worrying about my next shift. I remember leaving after a bad day and then having dreams about it all night long only to awake and return for another 12 hours although I felt like I had never left.”

Sounds like work-life balance is impossible! Well, to be a nurse that is able to provide safe, effective, and quality care for our patients- we need to recharge. The old metaphor certainly rings true:

[Tweet “”You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” –Eleanor Brown”]

So let me ask you this, nurses- do you have a life outside of work? If so, what does it look like? If not, what can you do about it?

In today’s video blog, I share three ways you can begin to enjoy work life balance as a busy nurse. After watching, what additional tip would you add to this list?

Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RN; Founder of Nursing from WithinAbout the Author: As a keynote speaker, bestselling author and virtual conference host, Elizabeth partners with hospitals, organizations, associations, and nursing groups to help transform the field of nursing from the inside out. In her bestselling book, ‘Nursing from Within‘, Elizabeth supports nurses to make those inner shifts that are required to more fully enjoy our nursing careers.


  1. Sam

    Thank you for this post! As a newly licensed nurse starting my first job, my biggest fear is loosing the life I feel like I just got back after nursing school.

    • Elizabeth

      You are so welcome. Glad you enjoyed it, Sam!

  2. Donna Maheady

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Work-life balance is something we have to strive for throughout our careers.

    I practice yoga and take Pilates classes. My husband and I love to travel and I get to putter in

    my yard all year long here in Florida.

    • Elizabeth

      That is very true, Donna. It is something we are always striving for. Thanks for pointing that out. And for sharing these excellent ideas on how to enjoy a life outside of work!

  3. Nurse Born Products

    When I was working, I always found it difficult to have a life outside of work. 12 hour shifts, mandatory education, meetings and other work functions left me exhausted. On my days off I would either sleep or find myself socializing with my work friends, talking about work!

    • Elizabeth

      It can be challenging, Sarah. However, we must find a way to do it… otherwise, we will find ourselves too sick to work. Thank you for sharing your experience here so that others realize they are not alone.

  4. Carmen Davailus Buck

    Work life balance has always been a challenge for me. Great suggestions Elizabeth. My own early programming contributed as did the general theme that it was accepted and even a badge of honor to work longer and alter. This was especially true when I was a salaried employee and we could bring the EMR home. After 37 years, I am paying a high physical price now, so yes PLEASE talk more about this important subject! I wish I had heard it as a younger nurse. I think I needed to ‘get permission’ to relax and take care of myself. I was in good company too. Now- I’m much better at the balancing act but there’s room for improvement. 🙂 Perhaps even giving each other ‘permission’ more often will help to remind us to take care of ourselves.

    • Elizabeth

      Thanks, Carmen! I think by sharing what you are living through now can help other young nurses realize that they too need to focus on themselves. I appreciate you coming by and taking the time to share your comments!

  5. Jo

    I am a student nurse and I am concerned about this as my hobby is Acting, and I don’t want to lose that piece of me. I hope that future employers will allow me a regular evening off to attend rehearsals. Do you think this is likely?

    • Elizabeth

      Thanks for the comment. It’s wonderful to hear that you have passions outside of nursing!! Never lose those.

      To answer your question- yes. I would recommend you schedule a meeting with your management and tell them about this up front. Be proactive. And be crystal clear of your “why”. Why are you passionate about this? How will keeping your hobby make you a better, happier nurse?

      And if they are not supportive- you may need to consider another place of employment. I truly believe every nurse needs to have a joy outside of work. I also think that these creative outlets can be utilized in our careers as nurses.

      Thanks for the question! Keep in touch.


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