Gifted Healthcare provided this article.
Your overall wellness is important to help you live a higher quality of life, and as a travel nurse, this becomes even more of a priority while on assignment.
Everything we do, from work to bedtime routines, and every emotion we feel throughout the days contribute to our overall well-being. It is this same well-being that directly affects human actions and emotions, so the cycle all ties into one another. Prioritizing your overall wellness will help manage stress, reduce the risk of illness and aid positive interactions and feelings throughout your life.
Wellness is determined by a variety of categories, including environmental, mental, physical, social, spiritual, financial, intellectual, and occupational. We are diving into some of these categories and focusing on how you can enhance your wellness as a travel nurse.
As a travel nurse, your environment is changing regularly, and as exciting as a new environment is, it is also a shift in your routines and alters your atmosphere. As you prepare for a new travel contract, you can prioritize your wellness in prep for the transition.
Pack Extra Days for Your Move
Include extra days in your moving timeline leading up to your first shift, so you have plenty of time to make your new place feel like home. An unpacked and organized environment benefits your environmental wellness and will help you feel prepared for your new assignment.
Create Space for You
While unpacking, try to set up a spot in your home where you can retreat after work. Maybe it’s an outdoor oasis with twinkle lights or a comfy chair and blanket set up by a window for a reading nook. Whatever helps you decompress, prioritize that area of your space because a pleasant and stimulating environment supports your well-being.
Explore Your New Neighborhood
Extra time will also give you a chance to adjust to your new community. Explore your coffee shop options, find a local park, or map out your commute to get a feel for your surroundings. Having these little familiarities will make a huge difference as you transition to a new assignment.
Another big environment that is changing is your work environment. Give yourself a little grace as you adjust to navigating the floor, locating the nurses’ station, or getting lost looking for the bathroom. These are all things that come with time.
Your mental and emotional wellness has a large impact on your overall attitude and outlook toward life. This is a huge factor in your overall wellness and can ebb and flow over time. Your mental wellness will help you cope effectively, establish a positive self-regard, and create satisfying relationships in your day-to-day. Here are some tips to help your mental wellness while traveling.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. There are a variety of ways to practice it, so start with some trial and error to see what works best for your body and mind.
If your brain is busy planning, problem-solving, daydreaming, or thinking negative thoughts, you can feel drained. It also adds levels of stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression to your day. Take time each day to practice mindfulness exercises such as meditation, breathing, guided imagery, and more to relax your mind and body.
Check out these five simple practices for daily life to get started.
Along the lines of mindfulness, a self-care day can go a long way in easing your chaotic thoughts. Set aside time on a day off to go on a long walk, listen to a relaxing podcast, pamper yourself, or anything else that helps ease your mind and allow you to recover. Even if it is just 30 minutes you set aside, this will help chip away at the stress our bodies build up over time.
Talk It Out
In a world where virtual therapy is more commonly accessible, take advantage of it. Through the ups and downs of your personal life, shift experiences, and travel schedule, a therapist, is a great outlet to put yourself first and prioritize your needs. Don’t let your mental wellness get lost in the shuffle of your other priorities.
If a therapist is not available, rely on your loved ones for a little bit of time here and there to let your feelings out.
Physical wellness is not just about working out; it is about your body’s need for physical activity, healthy nutrition, and sleep. While adjusting to your new travel assignment, start to navigate your workout, eating, and sleep routines so you can feel balanced during the transition.
Find Your Workout Spot
Research local gyms and fitness studios near your house or hospital, depending on what time of day you prefer to move. Many studios offer a first-class free or some type of trial period membership, so don’t limit yourself to places you recognize from other cities. There might be a workout that is brand new to you and ends up being your favorite way to work out!
You also shouldn’t limit yourself just to the gym. Venture around the area and look for local trails to hike, parks for running and walking, or outdoor excursions to try for a change of scenery.
Eat Local, Cook at Home
A huge perk of travel nursing is exploring parts of the country you might have never been to before, and with that comes local produce and food. Hit up farmer’s markets to experience local vendors and culinary items that the town or state is known for.
Pack a cookbook with you and use your new favorite farmer’s market items to make some home-cooked meals. Cooking not only soothes your mind, but it’s a way to nourish your body and promote physical wellness. The best part is packing the leftovers for your next shift!
Stick to a Sleep Schedule
Whether you are working day shift, night shift, or a combo of both, your sleep as a nurse has to be a priority. Sleep improves your mood, regulates your blood sugar, improves your mental function, relieves stress, enhances athletic performance, and so many other bodily functions. You can help yourself in this area by setting up a successful sleep environment.
Depending on how you prefer to sleep, there are a variety of ways to control your sleep environment like the temperature, lighting, noise level, etc. If it helps you, pack an eye mask, turn on white noise, blast the ac, or read a book before bed. All of these options will help soothe your mind and body for a restful night’s sleep.
Having a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system goes a long way with your social wellness. While traveling, you might feel a void where those connections used to be, so you will need to actively seek social interactions to enhance your social wellness while living in a new city.
Connect With Friends from Home
If you are traveling alone, connecting with your friends and loved ones while on your assignment will make you feel more at home. Share the exciting experiences of your new town with friends over a FaceTime catch-up, or send pictures to your parents so they can live vicariously through your adventures. These little moments will enhance your social wellness.
Connect With Patients
One of the coolest things about nursing in general, but specifically travel nursing, is that you are helping people that you would have most likely never even met outside of the hospital. Every patient at your bedside has a story, a life they have lived, the advice they would give, etc. Embrace the moments you have with patients to connect with strangers and feel the impact that one conversation can have on both you and your patient.
Take Yourself Out
Time with yourself can be social too. It doesn’t always have to be a home-cooked meal. Research the local hot spot restaurants and create a bucket list of menus you want to try. Check out upcoming concerts, free events, and more to connect socially with your assignment city. Being around the social atmosphere and taking it all in can improve your social wellness as well.
Our job board is a great place to search for your next travel nurse assignment. We have you covered with our housing page if housing is an issue. You can search for what you are looking for.