As travel nurses you are always caring for others but taking care of yourself is just as important, if not more important. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will not be able to care for those who rely on you. Being on the road while on a travel nurse assignment can make it harder to care for yourself. Not being familiar with the area may be a concern but it doesn’t have to be. To help you while you are on the road The Gypsy Nurse team has put together a list of 4 self-care tips for travel nurses while on assignment.
Rest and Sleep
Self-care for travel nurses should start with focusing on sleep. Getting plenty of rest as a nurse is sometimes difficult. And working twelve-hour shifts as a travel nurse can make having a typical sleep pattern difficult. Nurses average about 6.8 hours of sleep a night, while it is recommended, they get 8 hours of sleep. It may seem that 1.2 hours of sleep isn’t that much, looking at the big picture that is a loss of 438 hours of sleep a year that you are losing out on. Sleep loss directly effects your health as well. We realize that getting enough sleep is easier said than done, here are a few tips to help you fall asleep at night. Make sure the room is dark- room darkening curtains work great to keep out unwanted light, whether it is during the day for night shift nurses or artificial light at night. Stay off your cell phone and/or computer, not only does this stimulate your mind but the blue light from them isn’t good for your eyes. Read a book. Reading helps to reduce stress which helps you fall asleep quicker. If you have tried all of these and still find yourself having trouble falling asleep or getting good sleep you can try over the counter supplements such as; chamomile tea or melatonin. Your body needs rest to keep it healthy and functioning at its best. Lack of rest is also dangerous when driving to and from work. If you haven’t had enough rest, you could risk dozing off while driving.
Exercising is a great method of self-care. There are numerous benefits you can receive from it. There are some obvious benefits, including helping control your weight and it helps combating health diseases and health conditions. But, did you know that it can help your mood, boosts your energy and it can help you get a more restful sleep at night. You don’t have to get a gym membership to exercise. YouTube is great for workouts if that is what you are looking for. Going for a jog, run or walk are also great options as well, these can be done anywhere!
Hobbies/ Me Time
Taking time out of your day for you time is important. It helps to refresh and refuel your mind and body. By taking time out of your day for you, you’ll lower your stress, become more productive, and have more energy. What better way than with hobbies. They don’t have to be time consuming or expensive; reading a book, crafting, painting, dancing or even writing. If the outdoors is more your thing you could go for walks, hikes or just go outside and enjoy the weather. You can always get me time by going out and getting a massage, manicure/pedicure or facial as well.
As a nurse it is sometimes difficult to maintain a healthy diet. You don’t always get to take your lunch breaks and are forced to dine on vending machine options. While convenient these things won’t keep you going for long. Many of these options are packed full of sugar. Sugar effects the body and brain in many ways including; the obvious, weight gain, drains your energy, contribute to depression and many others as well. Something as simple as packing a few healthy snacks for your shift could make a difference. Some examples of healthy snacks for on the go could include; trail mix, avocado chicken salad, protein bars, jerky, veggies and dip, hard boiled eggs, cheese or protein shakes. These are just a few suggestions there are many more out there. You won’t feel the need to reach for the vending machine food if you have something easy at your disposal.
These 4 things are just a few things you can do for self-care. Taking care of yourself should be one of your main focuses in order to care for others. While you may be able to get away with avoiding these things for a while, it won’t last and at some point, your body and mind are going to hit a wall. Take time for yourself so you can help those who need you most.