Being a travel nurse can be nerve-racking yet exciting and rewarding at the same time. During the COVID-19 pandemic, being a travel nurse on the frontline is easily comparable to throwing yourself in the eye of a hurricane. The pandemic has proven to be a challenge because the risk of infection goes up the more you interact with patients, and after a year, many nurses are burnt out.
If you’re a travel nurse right now, remember that people need you, but more importantly, you need yourself. Taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental well-being is crucial to avoid being overwhelmed. Worldwide surveys started recording higher rates of depression and anxiety when the pandemic and lockdowns began. Fear, confusion, and desperation are a reality for many people globally, especially frontline healthcare workers who have been dealing with more than they’ve ever had to handle daily. In this blog, we discuss ways to help you manage your stress levels as a travel nurse.
Control What You Can
The reality is that there is a virus that is wreaking havoc in the world and taking patients’ lives. Escaping this reality is hard for a nurse because you assume whole responsibility for your patients. Accepting the gravity of a heavy situation is rarely an antidote to suffering but can provide reprieve in such burdening times. You need to understand what is within and outside your control, even as you keenly monitor patient vitals and care for patients mentally and physically.
As time passes, you may find yourself experiencing compassion fatigue, which may lead to a lack of empathy. As such, you need to take time during and after your shifts to decompress, consume content that recharges your energy and keeps you positive even in the most challenging times.
Joining a new work environment and adjusting to new bosses and colleagues can be stressful at times. As a travel nurse, you may often find yourself thrust into unfamiliar territory with little support or guidance.
It’s crucial to stay positive and be proactive to ensure patient safety. However, it’s equally important to speak out when you’re unfamiliar with the scope of work. It’s challenging enough to adjust to new hospital locations, staff, and systems.
In some cases, speaking out is shunned because it’s misconstrued to be defiance. However, when a patient’s life is on the line, it’s best to be vocal about your problems. Inform your supervisor and colleagues that you have no or limited experience to handle a patient, to avoid errors. Explain that training and experience are necessary to help you manage a situation better.
Find Emotional Support
Since patients are not allowed to be with family and friends in their final moments, travel nurses serving in hospitals take on a more significant emotional burden. You may often find yourself holding a patient’s hand, making video calls, and interacting with a patient’s family.
It is therefore critical for you to seek emotional support from colleagues, friends, and family. If you’ve traveled away from your family, it is stressful knowing that you’re not going home to them. Organize voice and video calls to feel close to your loved ones. Be open about your pain and mental suffering, receive physical affection from partners, and take time to meditate about your life beyond the pandemic.
Adopt Healthy Routines
As challenging as it may be, try to maintain healthy habits that give you control over your life.
- Sleep whenever you can. Long shifts are physically, mentally, and emotionally draining, which is why you should take all the rest you can get.
- Take breaks and sneak in stretches and workouts before and after work to reduce the tension in your body.
- Include water in all your self-care routines. Grab a water bottle and pass by a water fountain several times during your shift. Take soothing showers and draw baths while enjoying some aromatherapy to calm yourself.
- Try meal prep and enjoy your healthy meals throughout the week instead of depending on take-out. More importantly, avoid skipping meals at work and keep your energy levels up at all times.
- Once in a while, go outside for a walk or jog and enjoy the fresh air.
- Practice mindfulness and journal frequently to take out the mental stress and prepare yourself for more challenging days to come.
- Avoid watching the news and the papers, and instead, find entertaining and relaxing content.
- As tempting as it may be, avoid caffeinated beverages, smoking and alcohol. These substances stress your body, making it more challenging to cope at work.
Update Your Licenses
When the heat of the pandemic struck, several states loosened their regulations and started accepting nurses from different states. However, even if these regulations still apply, you need to keep updated licenses. Ensure you have the necessary paperwork before taking a job in a different state to minimize employment friction and smoothen your transition.
As you accept a contract, remember you may need to be flexible and resilient. Go through your nursing contract carefully to ensure it meets all your employment, transport, and housing needs.
Enjoy The Travel
The main perk of being a travel nurse is that you live in different destinations. Take advantage of this benefit and work in various towns and states. Moving to new places, making new friends, and making adjustments is an excellent way to reset your life, especially after a challenging assignment.
Even as you work hard caring for patients, don’t forget to appreciate the diversity of your life as a travel nurse. You can journal on paper or audio whenever you find something new and exciting and hold on to those memories when times get tough.
How To Find a Travel Nurse Assignment
Whether you are an RN or LPN, AB Staffing Solutions can connect you with a nursing job that fits your needs. We have openings in the ICU, ER, OR, Labor & Delivery, and more. Feel free to browse our job search to find a travel nurse job suitable to your skills and experience. Or contact us today to speak to a recruiter.