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Warning Signs that Your Nursing Job Is Affecting a Relationship

By Anita Wong, Contributor

Warning Signs that Your Nursing Job Is Affecting a RelationshipWe 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.

Effects of nurse depression on 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.

1. You're short on patience and empathy

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.

2. You take your frustrations out on others

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.

3. You're shutting loved ones out of your life

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.

4. You don't have fun when you're with family and friends

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.

5. Your relationship with your partner lacks physical intimacy

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.

What can you do if you're having trouble coping?

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.

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