One of the unfortunate truths in healthcare is that nurses spend their professionals lives caring for others, but yet often don’t take the time to care for themselves, either physically or emotionally. This seems to be particularly true for travel nurses due to their demanding schedules, living in new cites and being way from friends and family. Why is it so hard for nurses to spend time on self-care? For some travel nurses it may be a challenge simply to find the time to carve our of their day. For others, it may be an uncomfortable task to schedule “me time” – feeling that they may be “indulging” when they are surrounded in their working day/night by others who are in need. While the specific reasons for the pervasive lack of self-care in travel nursing can be numerous, the critical importance of taking time to nurture one’s mind and body cannot be overstated. A number of recent studies have shown that people who do not take time on a regular basis for self-care can do lasting damage to their physical and emotional well-being. With this in mind, the team at Go Healthcare Staffing has compiled these 3 important self-care tips for travel nurses.
Set Aside Daily Quiet Time For The Mind:
Travel nurses are absolutely bombarded every day with noise: monitors beeping, patients in need of care and the normal hustle and bustle of a demanding healthcare facility. Even a travel nurse’s non-work hours are filled with text messages, appointment reminders and other personal and professional demands. Sensory overload can occur very easily and that can contribute to headaches, lack of focus and lack of sleep. So, when travel nurses are off work, try completely unplugging from the world, if even only for 30 minutes or so. Give yourself permission to simply sit and decompress. This is not sleeping or a cat-nap. Think of it as a simple approach to meditation and cleansing the mind this is YOUR time. Position yourself in a quiet environment (inside or outside) and allow yourself to breath. Don’t feel pressured to solve a problem or plan your shopping list. Don’t worry about calling mom because you haven’t talked to her in a week or replying to your friend’s text from last night. Simply allow your mind to empty itself of the problems and noise of the day and remove the negativity. You can close your eyes or simply focus on a pleasing object or a point in nature. This quiet time will help quiet the mind and the body and will do wonders for your mood and your body. This is not indulgence, it’s necessity.
Get Some Form of Physical Exercise Every Day:
The body-to-mind connection is even more critical for travel nurses. If you don’t feel well, you won’t BE well. Now, we know – easier said than done. Travel nurses by nature have crazy schedules that can often prevent them from going to the gym or working out on a regular basis. However, there are easy steps that can be taken to work in some exercise in the daily routine. A simple 10 minute walk can be beneficial. Even something as small as parking a block away from the facility you’re working at to get a little extra exercise in fresh air can help you feel better and at least get some form of activity in.
Now, if it’s possible, regular exercise is best, but remember, it doesn’t have to be a 4 hour marathon workout session. Ideally, join a local gym temporarily while you’re on assignment (in fact the YMCA is one organization that will honor memberships from one facility to another nationally). Most gyms will have month-to-month memberships that can fit your schedule and won’t hurt your bank account. Often these facilities will even give you a further discount if you just ask (remember: “never ask… never get!”). Tell them you’re a travel nurse, explain what you do and you may be surprised at how accommodating the staff can be in terms of pricing. From there ask the fitness counselors if they can develop a quick workout (45 mins) that you can reasonably do 2-3 times a week. Many people defeat themselves thinking that they have to go to the gym every day to get benefits – not true! Just working 2-3 times per week for 45 mins per session will have a tremendous positive impact on your overall well-being. Try mixing in cardio (treadmill, bike, elliptical machine) as well as resistance training (free weights, machines, etc.). A healthy mix of resistance and cardio is critical for a good workout – too often nurses focus on cardio but strong muscles will help burn fat (remember: muscle burns calories) and protect your back, legs and other areas that get beat up from the demands of travel nursing. In addition, resistance training and weight lifting trigger specific endorphins that can help improve your mood…so make sure to “pump the iron” too!
Make Time To Do Something Every Day That YOU Find Rewarding
This may seem like a simple task, but for many travel nurses, it’s not. Travel nurses often put unrealistic demands on themselves in all phases of their professional lives. These demands can leak over into their personal lives as well, particularly when on an assignment. Travel nurses can often feel pressured into spending time outside of work with colleagues whose company they don’t particularly enjoy, or visiting tourist traps in a particularly city that they’re not interested in. Now, we’re not saying be anti-social or turn into a hermit after work, but make sure you’re doing things YOU like to do, rather than what you think somebody else thinks you should do, and do them on a regular basis. Make some time to do something every day that YOU find rewarding and don’t judge yourself on this aspect of “me” time. The possibilities are endless, but the point is YOU make the call and you can do it on your own if no-one shares the same passion. Binge-watch “American Pickers” on a Saturday morning? Do it. Window shop downtown even when you feel it’s stupid because you’re broke? It’s OK! Grab a good book and head to the local pub to have a drink in a corner booth and enjoy watching the world go by for afternoon – it’s all good!
So, remember travel nurses – taking care of yourself is an important part of caring for others – it starts with YOU!