Mental health is so important in any profession, but perhaps particularly challenging for travelers.
The demands of the travel nurse industry exacerbate the need to adapt to change, manage relationships, and ramp up quickly in new environments. While many nurses enjoy some predictability in their co-workers, routines, and facilities, travel nurses do not. That is all the more reason travelers should pay special attention to ensuring a life work balance to help reduce stress, avoid mistakes, and prevent burnout. It’s not possible to detail all the factors that contribute to mental health in one article, however, our goal is to convince you to make it a priority and recognize when things are out of balance. Here are a few key areas that deserve focus and mitigating strategies that can relieve the negative impact.
Honor your values
Take some time to appreciate your personal values and what is important to you. Be sure to understand this is extremely personal. Your values need not match someone else’s, nor should they check off an arbitrary list. Write down the things that are non-negotiable, for example, family, integrity, faith, physical fitness, continuing education, volunteer causes, etc. Next, compare that list to your daily life and if those values are integrated, to what extent, and which are being compromised. Resist the temptation to fix with a magic wand, think through how you can make incremental changes to be truer to yourself.
Schedule the good stuff
Most people are guilty of doing a meticulous job of scheduling work, appointments, and due dates. Understand that there are immense benefits to scheduling the “good stuff” as well. Putting things in a planner or documenting in some fashion helps foster commitment to the activity and serves as an important reminder. Allow yourself to schedule a walk, a nap, a phone call with a friend, personal yoga time, meditation hours, surf the internet, crafting, anything that fills your soul and rejuvenates your mind.
Ask for help
It’s very possible that achieving life work balance seems impossible because your work side of the scale is overloaded. Try to seek some nursing relief by taking full advantage of your support services, discussing patient loads, revisiting shift hours, and perhaps suggest processes that will increase efficiencies. Understanding that the flexibility here may be limited, it may be more realistic to seek relief on the personal side of things. Look for ways to get assistance around meal prep, cleaning, bookkeeping, pet care, any area during your personal time that is consuming more energy than you like. Help can come in a variety of ways, for example menu routines could benefit from basic meal planning using online resources for quick and easy meals, meal kits delivered to your door, or shopping prepared meals at the local market. And, there are numerous professional organizations that can help with therapy or medical evaluations if you are depressed, have chronic anxiety, or can’t shake feeling overwhelmed.
Close the door on your workday
One significant challenge to life work balance is our inherent habit of bringing our work home with us. This is especially true for nurses who care deeply for patients and become invested in their outcomes and recovery. While it would be devastating to avoid empathy, it can also be detrimental to care too much or too long. Life work balance means that you must leave work at work and use your home to fulfill personal well-being. If your personal time and home simply become an extension of your workday, then you are essentially always working. Good mental health requires that you take a break. We understand that you can’t complete turn off your feelings, however, you can take steps to minimize them interfering with your personal time. Create an after-shift routine that includes activities such as taking a relaxing bath, going for a walk outdoors, listening to calming music, changing into comfortable clothes and shoes, watching a favorite comedy, gardening, anything that helps you escape the pressures of the hospital.
Embrace your career
One powerful contributor to life work balance is appreciating the work that you do. This does not have to contradict #4, so be careful not to let this reflection become overly time consuming. You should, however, take time remember why you entered the field of nursing as well as why you were attracted to traveling. Cherish your ability to help others, to make a life changing difference in lives, to bring joy to families who trust you, to act like family when others can’t be nearby, to bask in the sheer satisfaction of contributing to a recovery. When you truly embrace your “work” and relish the results, your job feels less like work and becomes more seamlessly integrated into who you are as a person. Less boundaries between life and work makes it easier to achieve greater balance.
Take Care of You
Nursing is a demanding profession, both physically and mentally. Take time to ensure you are caring for your phycological well-being with the necessary commitment to life work balance. Set priorities and realistic goals that encourage, not prevent, balance. And, seek professional assistance at any time you feel the lack of balance is unmanageable despite your efforts to improve. Don’t wait for a crisis or the situation to become desperately unbearable. Trained therapists can help you before things get bad and also coach you on a maintenance path for a healthy life work balance as time passes and your situation changes. For a full suite of services and contacts click here. The Go Team has your back! To start your travel journey with us today, check out our job openings.
I connect nurses with travel contracts across all 50 states. I’m passionate about showing nurses how amazing having an agency that truly cares can be and how it changes the travel game.