A career as a travel nurse is exciting, fun, and enlightening all at once.
When you’re potentially moving to new destinations and new facilities every few months, it might seem like a good idea to let loose and indulge in those sweet vices you’re craving when you travel, but it can be dangerous.
The truth is, as adventurous as travel nursing is, this career choice can also be tough on your body, mind, and soul. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
For starters, the best way to ensure that we as nurses don’t slip into bad or damaging habits is we need a support plan.
Here are five wicked easy ways you can take care of yourself while on the road and on your jobs so that you can continue caring for others and maximizing all your assignments.
Start drinking water each day. Lots of it.
Everyone needs to drink water every day.
Not drinking enough water can lead to various issues and many problems, the most apparent dehydration. But you already know this, and I’m sure share this with patients in your facilities quite often.
The human body is made up of nearly 60% water. And as nurses, we’re always on the go, which means that our bodies are in a constant state of either gaining or losing water, and our healthcare status is in micro-flux. So maintaining the balance in our high-demand career is necessary for optimal health.
The truth is, it’s an easy habit to incorporate into your routine. It can be as easy as starting each day with a glass of water and make an effort to continue drinking several glasses throughout the day.
To be clear, I’m not telling you to skip your favorite latte from Starbucks; we nurses need that jolt but remember that nothing has the benefits a simple glass of water does. Staying hydrated will not only keep you energized but will also help you stay focused and find the right balance throughout the day.
Stay active even when not on shift
I can totally recall those assignments when all I wanted to do was Netflix and chill.
You deserve those bonus days, but just don’t take too many of them in a row.
Being active is an integral part of maintaining optimal health. This means getting the appropriate amount of rest and finding time to exercise and maintain our balance.
However, as travel nurses, it can be challenging to find the time to work out because we’re constantly adjusting our schedules around our next assignment or simply our next shift.
That’s why it’s essential to make a point to do at least 10 minutes of exercise or yoga each day when you’re not nursing.
In the short term, you might think that this won’t be enough. Still, studies show that even just 10 minutes results in many positive outcomes in life, including reducing your risk for heart disease, depression and improving your overall mood and sense of well-being.
Even something as simple as going for a brisk walk can work wonders for us as travel nurses.
Cheat days are ok, but eating healthy is key
I can hear my fellow RNs now, “But Rick, driving through Chipoltle is so much easier than prepping my meals for the job!”
Travel nursing has its challenges. The biggest is that we’re in new locations and likely a new kitchen too, making meal prepping a challenge. Plus, working as a travel nurse means that you will be on the road part of the time and eating in restaurants the rest.
Hardly any nurses can live off fast food and take-out alone.
This is why it’s so important to watch what we eat and to make healthy eating choices on days when we’re not working. And prep for healthy eating when we are.
Some simple tips to help nurses are to search and find a nearby supermarket as soon as they get to new assignments. Nowadays, many of them have pre-prepared meals, which makes a lot of meal prep simple and easy. Another tip that’s worked well for me is grabbing a handful of energy bars. I go for the Keto ones or types with low carbs.
Not to mention that eating healthy and clean foods will help you feel less bloated, less lethargic, and more energized.
Don’t forgo the cool new restaurants, though! All I’m saying is to make good choices most of the time, so when it’s time to enjoy the new city, you’re all in!
Learn to sleep like a baby
One of the most important things for any nurse is to get enough sleep.
In many ways, the health of travel nurses is vulnerable because they must constantly be adjusting their schedules around their next assignment or even their next shift. And the truth is, we do think about patients after work sometimes.
But a lack of sleep can lead to various problems such as difficulty concentrating and increased irritability which can manifest in all kinds of ways.
Adults need about 7-9 hours of sleep each night to give their bodies enough time to recharge from the previous day, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Simple tips to consider are to set a dedicated sleep regimen. This lets your “internal clock” acclimate and even helps balance your sleep-work cycle. Sometimes a specific routine pre-bedtime helps as well. Dim lights, a mug of calming tea, and even soft music are good ways to pre yourself for bed.
Simply put, while you may be a nurse in a new place, the goal is to wake up the next day feeling energized, refreshed, and ready to continue helping your patients & rock another shift.
Make your mental health a priority, put yourself first
In nursing, we see things and do things for our patients that most folks do not grasp. And you know as well as I do that it can and often does take a toll on us, especially in these COVID 19 times.
That’s why an important part of being a travel nurse is maintaining optimal mental health. Something that works for you.
One of the most important tools against burnout and stress is regularly engaging in self-care. To stay mentally and physically healthy, every travel nurse needs to find their own methods for reducing stress.
Some more popular self-care techniques include meditation, yoga, regular exercise, journaling, or talking with friends and family.
After trial and error, whatever you find works best for you, just make sure to allow a sufficient amount of time for yourself so you can recharge your batteries while on location.
You’re no good to those around you if you don’t take care of yourself first, so don’t overlook the importance of your emotional and mental health when traveling.
Travel nursing isn’t just about the adventure; it’s also about living a balanced life.
The final word
Travel nursing can be difficult, but taking care of yourself is essential. Eating well and sleeping enough is key to staying healthy during assignments. But it’s also important to take time for self-care in order to reduce stress and avoid burnout from the challenging work you do every day.
The benefits typically last for a long time after the job ends.
What have been your favorite tips for eating healthfully while travel nursing? Have any tricks or travel hacks that help with getting more sleep when working long shifts? We’d love to know!
Interested in starting your own travel nursing journey? Get connected with a Bestica Healthcare recruiter today!
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