The perks of a career in Travel Nursing are obvious: competitive pay, city hopping, and numerous opportunities to extend yourself professionally! However, the job still comes with its challenges, and the most significant of these for any nurse is the impact that working in healthcare can have on your anxiety and stress levels. Throw in a pandemic and the additional stress which accompanies a nomadic lifestyle, and you’ve got a surefire recipe for burnout. Let’s get into some of the ways in which stress acutely impacts Travel Nurses, and how to manage these factors so that you can show up for yourself and your patients.
Travel Nurses are literally always on their feet! In addition to the stress of constantly being on the move, many Travel Nurses are working night shifts. So, managing your sleeping environment is absolutely essential to maintaining good sleep hygiene and getting the rest that your body needs. Filter out ambient light in your room by investing in light-blocking curtains or blinds, or simply using a travel-friendly sleeping mask. Seeing as you aren’t likely to be following a traditional circadian rhythm, it’s important to manually signal to your body when it’s time to rest. Find ways to disengage your mind before you go to bed: read a book, meditate, or journal.
After a shift, the thought of a daylong hike or a hardcore workout might make you sick to your stomach. So, don’t! You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete in order to enjoy the undeniable benefits of exercise for stress relief. Regularly moving your body, however gently that might be, has countless benefits for releasing the physical tension which often affects those of us who work in nursing. Without pushing yourself past your physical limits, make time in your schedule to move your body with an exercise routine that works for you.
Make time to decompress
The stress of a typical nurse’s workplace calls for conscious decompression from the hospital environment. It can be easy to sink into a cycle of working hard, coming home, passing out from exhaustion, and repeating the steps day in and day out. Taking the time to actually get “out of office” can effectively help you manage your levels of work-related stress and anxiety. As Travel Nurses who are not permanent members of staff, it’s also important that you curate a healthy social life. Meet up with other Travel Nurses in your city, join an art class, or take up a social hobby like group hiking to make sure that you’re getting away from it all. Don’t forget, this is one of the major perks of the job: take the opportunity to explore your new town and visit nearby museums, parks, and galleries.
Eat a balanced diet
We can’t overstate the positive effect that a balanced diet has on your mental health! Familiarize yourself with your new local grocery outlets so that the temptation to pick up a fast food order on the way home from a shift isn’t overpowering. On the days when you really don’t have the energy to prepare food at home, order something healthy and high in energy to sustain you through the long days.