Warning Signs that Your Nursing Job Is Affecting a Relationship
By Anita Wong, Contributor
We all know that work-life balance is essential for a
nurse's well-being, but it can be difficult to disconnect from the physical and
emotional demands of your job when your shift is over. If you're able to shake
off the stress of the day and enjoy the company of family and friends when you
get home, you're likely coping well. But sometimes the emotions from work can
spill into your personal life and add tension to your relationships.
A study in the Journal of Family Psychology found that
people who have occupations where they're responsible for others, such as
healthcare professionals, are more likely to experience interference between
work and their personal lives.
Stress is a normal part of life. When it becomes chronic,
however, it can lead to compassion fatigue and burnout on the job. It can also
result in depression, which affects all areas of your life.
Here are some signs that the demands of your job may be
affecting your relationships, whether you're experiencing stress, burnout or depression.
Stress consumes a lot of energy, leaving little in your
tank to cope with other things in your life. This is compounded if you're
fatigued from not sleeping well and can impact how you relate to others.
Things you once found endearing may test your patience,
such as your partner's off-key singing in another room or your toddler's
constant chatter. You might even find that you have difficulty being empathetic
when others are sharing stories about what's happening in their lives.
Stress can make people irritable and even hostile. If
you're already emotionally sapped, it can be difficult to keep feelings in
check. Responding to a spouse or family member with a few sharp words or angry
silence when you're upset can lead to more friction.
Increased conflict with family members is one of the
effects of nurse depression and may be a sign that you need to manage
your stress another way or seek professional support.
Another unhealthy way of dealing with stress is
ruminating or dwelling on your problems. Because this shifts your focus
internally, you're less present to those around you. You may be distracted or
isolate yourself instead of seeking support and communicating with loved ones.
One study of how paramedics manage stress found that
rumination can result in increased marital tension. When spouses responded to
the ruminating by stepping back from the relationship, the paramedics in the
study ruminated even more.
When you're emotionally exhausted, you might want to
tune out from the world and binge-watch Netflix every night, but work-life
balance doesn't mean disengaging from the world. Spending time doing fulfilling
activities is important for your well-being, whether you're spending time with
friends and family or pursuing hobbies and sports.
Depressed people no longer take pleasure in activities
they used to like. If the idea of going out with your spouse on date night
seems like a chore or your child's request to play hide-and-seek brings a sense
of dread instead of happiness, consider if you're experiencing an effect of
nurse depression on your relationships.
Depression may cause you to withdraw emotionally from
your spouse. It's natural that romance, affection and physical desire can start
evaporating when you're spending less time enjoying each other's company.
Three-quarters of people who are depressed find they're less
interested in sex. While it's natural for sexual desire to fluctuate in any
relationship, consider if depression may be a cause if it persists.
It's important for nurses to maintain a work-life
balance by finding healthy
ways to cope with stress. The American Nurses Association has put
together resources on its Healthy
Nurse, Healthy Nation website devoted to helping combat stress.
Nurses are twice as likely to experience depression as
those in other professions. If you're having difficulty managing stress or
suspect you may have depression, reach out to your doctor or a mental health
professional.Find more resources to
support you in your nursing career on the Nurse Choice website.