The “to-do” list is cluttered with shopping, wrapping, shipping, and decorating, oh my!
The holidays are upon us and that means a joyous season of family, friends, food and fun. It also means the days seem to get more and more hectic while feeling shorter and shorter. We understand that however you choose to celebrate, the excitement can also bring on unwanted stress.
The reality of the holidays for nurse travelers.
The holidays is a time of added pressure for traveler nurses. On top of the “busyness” of the traditional holiday schedule, you will be faced with working extra shifts to cover and most likely work on the actual holidays. As you know, the holiday season is notorious for the common cold, flu, stomach virus, headaches, anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, and general irritability. Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to eliminate every factor to protect yourself. Busy schedules lead to less sleep, less time can lead to poor diets and dehydration, a weakened immune system increases vulnerability to common illnesses. What’s more, all the added pressure can increase anxiety and even bring on mild depression. It is possible to combat these threats with several steps and precautions to stay well and enjoy this special time.
Make “self care” a priority.
Yes, we know your patients are a priority and you care about your co-workers, but you must first take care of yourself. By realizing that your own well-being is the key to being your best for others will keep you on a positive path. The same preventive medicine you preach to your patients also applies to you. And while we aren’t prescribing any medication, we are suggesting some simple ways to put your health at the top of this year’s holiday list.
It’s never too early or too late to focus on some simple steps to improve your health. While the holiday season brings on unique challenges, staying healthy should be a year-round initiative.
Here are some practical tips that are so important to your mental and physical fitness.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Truth is, everyone has a unique sleep meter. Some people need eight hours while some do just fine on five. Look at your own sleep patterns. If you are sluggish, struggle to wake up in the morning, or get drowsy soon after starting your day—you might need more sleep. Try to carve out a nap or better yet, additional hours in your core sleep schedule. Don’t worry if your slumber doesn’t take place during traditional night hours, focus on getting quality sleep when and wherever you can.
2. Get Organized
This might seem far-fetched, but in fact, being disorganized can be very draining. Rushing around, missing deadlines, being late, making several trips because you forget something, and even just corralling your scattered thoughts requires energy. The energy is mental and physical, both depleting your ability to remain alert and savvy. Create checklists, document schedules, set reminders, and most importantly—establish boundaries. Don’t try to accomplish six hours of activities and tasks in thirty minutes. If you are practical about your goals and stay organized then you will inevitably increase efficiencies. As you are better organized, tasks are better managed and this reduces stress.
3. Eat and Drink with a Purpose
How many times have you reminded your patients how important a well-balanced diet is to their health? How many times have you told yourself this same advice? Travel nurses are known for grabbing quick snacks, missing meals and forgetting about hydration. This all contributes to the health of your immune system. Choose your food and beverage options with the goal of boosting your ability to fight germs. Eat a well-balanced diet and opt for water and electrolytes to stay hydrated.
4. Mind Your Mental and Emotional State
Be sure your arsenal is full of techniques for relieving stress. Relaxing means different things to different people, and the same goes for travel nurses. Perhaps you like to escape by reading a book and letting your mind carry you off to some romantic getaway. Others may prefer a favorite movie or comedy series. Yoga, meditation, breathing, and visualization exercises are also very effective favorites. Create a playlist with soothing sounds and music that always at the ready. You may also enjoy the Calm app which offers a full menu of relaxation options. Be sure to find some quiet time every day to unwind and recharge.
5. Stay Active, Exercise
Despite your busy day, we encourage you to find even fifteen minutes a day to stretch, walk, job, skip, even a few jumping jacks will help. Physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and overall energy—the perfect combination for travels nurses during the holidays. Keep in mind your personal ability and consult with your medical advisor if you are unsure of safe activities.
These are just some of the ways you can help reduce stress and the risk of getting run down during the holidays.
We encourage all of our travelers to keep your health a priority and seek advice and council from a professional if you ever feel too overwhelmed to cope successfully. As always, we are a text and a phone call away if we can provide any help while you’re on assignment with us.
I get to share great travel nursing stories, good news and helpful tips for travel nurses. Caroline manages our Inner Circle Program and is our TLC Manager.