For twelve hours a day, three days a week, I talk. I talk to co-workers, Physicians, patients, patient’s families, pharmacists, lab technicians, Volunteers, and whoever else would like to present themself in the Labor and Delivery unit. I discuss the process of labor, the reason you are having tests, the reason you are pregnant, the technology we are using, pros and cons of certain therapies versus others. Some days I come home to the faint cries of newborns, screams of mothers, and beeping of machines still inside my head. So how do we turn this off? How do we silence those alarms in our minds? How do we debrief? How do you live a balanced life?
For most nurses, the constant ring of alarms is considered normal for coming home from a long shift, but is it? As Travel Nurses, we add the stress of being in new hospitals, new towns, new states, new policies… every thirteen weeks; that has to make us clinically nuts… right? Though I am not an experienced traveler yet, I would like to place some input on maintaining a balanced life in our crazy, gypsy lifestyle.
1. Get Outside.
I have read various studies that suggest hiking and being outside (disconnecting from technology) can make even the most depressed person happy. (I will include a link to a Huffington Post article here, but if you have an interest in more articles, please feel free to reach out)
2. Eat a Balanced Diet.
Friends, it’s true, you have to take care of your body! Even when traveling. Some of my favorite snacks, especially for flights or road trips, are:
- Olive snack bags: they are sold at many grocery stores and don’t contain water, so they are perfect for flights.
- Mama Chia snack packs: a yummy and fruity quick snack.
- String Cheese
- Kombucha: Not really flight acceptable unless you spend the $12 at the airport, but I love having it on the road.
3. Take a Moment of Silence.
This is a little different than pouring libations for your homies. Before my shift, I give myself a little time to wake up. I put on some soft jams in the morning and make my coffee. I am not a huge breakfast person, but sometimes I will snack on fruit. In any event, I give myself the time to wake up and SIT. No phone, no computer… nothing but me, my French press and some music. It lets me prepare mentally for whatever my shift will bring.
4. Make a Decision.
Your day is your choice. Every day. Every time. Choose to have a good day or a bad day. Choose to be affected or not to be.
5. Have a Hobby.
In this assignment, I really started to get into climbing. It’s a good way to feel 8 years old and not judged by it. You get to climb and play on stuff, and it’s totally NORMAL. But find something you can dive into. Yoga, pottery, drawing, painting… have an outlet where your mind can release, and you are not bothered by the chaos of work.
6. Have a Hiding Place.
Sometimes at work, I just need TWO MINUTES to step away. My go-to is usually a bathroom, to be honest. It’s SO quiet in there. I lock the door, place my index and thumb over my earlobes and rub my earlobes. This is weird, BUT I learned this once at a holistic medical conference. It is supposed to help you relax. I tried to GOOGLE some research on this, and it appears it is very little… so maybe it’s a fable, but it helps me, so Why Not?
7. Drop Your Day at the Door.
I find it funny, our profession. Even on the WORST DAYS, we get out of work, and all we can do is talk about work. We obsess. Either has a rule where you can vent to a friend for about 15 minutes max, or drop your day at the door. You did the best you could. The shift is over, and you can’t fix or change it.
I hope these pointers are helpful! Let me know if you have any fun tips on living a balanced life. And most importantly, “Keep on keeping on” fellow Gypsies!