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Balancing Wellness and Work as a Nurse


By Linda Hofmann, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, NE-BC

I think “wellness” means something different to each of us. So, when we hear one person’s wellness strategies, we’ve heard one person’s wellness strategies. I also think that how we stay well changes depending on what we are experiencing and the seasons of our lives. For me, stress and troubles have never come from my marriage, kids, or my family. My stress and trouble have come from the job roles I was in and the people who I was either fortunate or challenged to be working with at the time. 

The way I manage my life balance is to be highly structured, planned, and organized. I think it comes from me being an ICU nurse for so long. I knew from experience that at any time without notice or advance preparation things could go “south” with my patients, with another nurse or with admissions. I controlled what I could—the best I could with the time I had—being efficient and organized. 

I control what I can control, in my sphere of control, which is not all that much. I used to say I had great control of my closet but these days that control has slipped to a mess. 

When I had my first baby at 30 years old, I had been in my career for some time and had fantasy ideas of how structured and organized I would be as a mother and professional. My wise mother talked with me often, and I was not persuaded by her conversations about the inevitability of my priorities and standards changing—where I would newly choose to spend my time, how long I’d let dirty dishes be in the sink and dirty laundry stack up, etc. My mother gave me a lovely embroidery that still has meaning for me in all parts of my life, not just the baby part and even though my babies are all grown: 

“Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow for babies grow up we’ve learned to our sorrow. So quiet down cobwebs. Dust go to sleep. I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep!” 

These days I’m still structured and regimented, but I have learned to have compassion for myself and for others. And with the years I have learned empathy. Regarding life balance, I must cognitively choose every day to take time for yoga, running, pilates, and my self-care, or I get overwhelmed and engrossed in the tasks at hand.