This article was provided by Travel Nurse Across America.
Your mental health is important. As a healthcare professional working through a global pandemic, it can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Knowing how to take care of yourself and when or if it is time to ask for help is vital. Whether you de-stress with a bubble bath and music or a night out dancing with friends.
Here are five ways to focus on your mental health while traveling.
Set Regular Times to Connect with Friends & Family Back Home
As if traveling to a foreign place without your family and friends is not hard enough, the added stress of social distancing guidelines and COVID-19 concerns make being a traveling healthcare professional even more difficult. Feeling disconnected from home can create added stress to a new assignment. Zoom and FaceTime make it easier than ever to experience a face-to-face conversation with loved ones miles away. As soon as you know your schedule, schedule a call with loved ones. You can even create themes for the calls!
Use Your Benefits
Depending on the benefits that your agency offers, you may have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), Chaplain Program, or health insurance that covers wellness visits. Some health plans will also give the option for telehealth or teletherapy sessions.
An EAP offers a wide variety of services that can help reduce stress while you are on the road. Even if you just need help tracking down a pharmacy to refill your prescriptions in your new assignment location. Your EAP may also include resources such as telehealth sessions free of charge, with assistance finding follow-up care in-person. A Chaplain Program provides access to a non-denominational Chaplain who has a listening ear available 24/7. Typically, one Chaplain is available for the entire agency, so they are accustomed to healthcare-related conversations.
Another great option is reaching out to your agency’s Clinical department for those times when you need someone who truly relates to nursing. Your agency is here to support you, whether it is the Clinical Department, your recruiter, etc. Lean on your team!
Take Care of Your Physical Health
Exercising and eating healthy can seem nearly impossible when you are constantly on the go. Our physical wellbeing plays a big part in our mental wellbeing, though. Meal prepping is a great way to reduce the stress of searching for lunch while ensuring access to healthier options. If you are taking an assignment in Washington, Maine, or Florida, there may be plenty of outdoor activities for you to earn daily compliments from your Apple Watch or Fitbit activity levels. Another option is to join a local gym or yoga studio. Your agency may even offer a perks program with gym discounts available, depending on assignment location.
Set Obtainable Goals for Yourself (and Your Travel Nursing Career)
Do you write down your goals when you set them? This physical activity has been shown to benefit how your brain responds to intended objectives. Setting examples of what you want to accomplish gives you something to look forward to, so it is crucial to ensure set goals are obtainable. Reaching each milestone can create a positive response that improves mental health overall. Are you traveling to build your resume? Discuss your wish list of facilities to work at with your recruiter, so they can help you along the way to crushing your travel nursing goals.
Get to Know the Area & People
It might seem obvious, but getting to know a new area and new coworkers can be harder than you think. Start with getting to know the other travelers at your facility. Invite them out for drinks, or maybe to explore the area on a shared day off. Even without festivals and other regularly scheduled in-person events, state parks and historical landmarks are a great way to get to know a new area. If National Parks are your thing, consider taking an assignment in the Pacific Northwest. Plus, nothing tells you more about an area than its local cuisine!