Long hours and odd shifts can lead to a lack of self-care for travel nurses, the results of which can be health issues like insomnia, vitamin deficiency, obesity, chronic illnesses, and poor job performance. It doesn’t have to be this way. With a focused effort on your own nutrition, exercise, and spiritual and mental health, you will feel better and will be better able to help patients. Where do you begin to change the routine?
Take inventory of your own health.
As a travel nurse, you’re focused on patient care but it is also important to take care of yourself. What are you eating? How often are you exercising? Is it easy for you to relax? What is your sleep schedule like? How often are you participating in non-work social activities? All of these, and more, contribute to physical, spiritual, and mental well-being.
When our own reserves are depleted and we’re focused solely on work, we are less able to handle stresses in our own lives. Not only will we be less capable of handling everyday events like traffic jams and paying the bills, but patient care can suffer too, making it important to focus on you as much as you focus on patients. A well cared for body is a body that can handle patient needs and non-work stress better.
Make small changes.
After you’ve taken inventory of your health, you may feel overwhelmed about where to start which is why we recommend making small changes. Over time, these changes add up to big results. It’s likely impossible to begin a gluten-free diet, cut back on sugar and caffeine, get more rest, and increase activity all in one day or even a week. Pick one and focus your effort in that area. Once you feel confident that you’ve had success with one change, then try and tackle another.
Start by decreasing the amount of fast food you eat or cut back on sugary drinks. Instead, bring lunch once or twice a week and drink more water. This simple change will have you feeling better and after that, you will be motivated to make other small changes.
Slowly increase physical activity. Park farther away, as long as it is safe to do so. Take the stairs if it’s possible. Whenever you’re on a phone call, walk around instead of sitting. Turn on your favorite music and have a dance party. Wear a pedometer or use an app like Google Fit to track your steps. You will be amazed by how many steps you take with almost no effort!
Check out our article How to Stay Fit While on Assignment for more tips and inspiration.
When it comes to food, make an effort to meal plan. Once a week sit down to plan meals, especially for the days when you work long shifts, make a list and go to the grocery store. Focus on what you need for the week. Starting with a week at a time makes it easier to get in the habit and is less daunting than meal planning for a longer period. Over time, you may find you need less at the store each work if you are actively looking for sales on your favorite foods.
For more on this topic, check out our article Eating Healthy While on Assignment.
Don’t forget your spiritual and mental well-being.
When it comes to spiritual and mental well-being, make time to decompress. Travel nurses choose anything from mountain biking, rock climbing, and hiking to meditation, massage, and yoga. Apps like Headspace offer guided meditations for decompressing after a busy shift, morning motivations, and everything in between. Refocus for your own well-being as well as for your patients.
Not only is it important to spend time alone, it’s also important to spend time with others. Even if you’re out with friends from work, steer the conversation to non-work topics so you can leave work life for a while and have fun!
Over time we tend to get lulled into a routine and sometimes the routine isn’t healthy for us. We gain weight, experience insomnia, and generally, don’t feel well. Taking time to inventory how you feel and making small changes will result in better overall health and improved capacity to handle the stress of being a travel nurse.
If you’re interested in learning more about being a travel nurse, visit the AB Staffing Job Board and contact a Recruiter today!