Mental Health as a Healthcare Traveler
Whether you are new to travel nursing, searching for travel nursing jobs, or running an excellent travel nursing company, mental health will need to be looked at. The mental health of yourself and your coworkers is essential. You must also keep in mind the mental health of your patients and their caregivers. When you are a healthcare traveler, it can be challenging to remember to hone in on the loved ones’ mental health when you feel so drained, but it must be done. Assisting everyone in their mental health, especially during the covid-19 pandemic, is essential. But what does this look like?
What Does Stress Look Like?
Before we can adequately combat stress, we must first recognize what it looks like. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following can all be results of stress:
- Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration
- Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
- Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances
As a healthcare traveler, you are likely to see most if not all of the items in this list, especially during the pandemic. Since you will be traveling to different areas in the country, you are likely to see varying degrees of stress, fear, worry, and symptoms.
What Can You Do?
How can you handle these situations? How can you support the patients and their families when you see these effects of stress? When you accept travel nursing jobs of any kind, there are certain things that both you and your patients will be seeking in your relationship. They will want companionship, independence, and freedom. If you take the time to listen to your patients and their families, you will hear what they need. If you are attentive to their needs, you will provide them with the best care any healthcare traveler could provide.
When you are working with a patient and their family, you become a friend and a confidante in addition to being their nurse. This allows you to build trust with the patient, which will enable them to feel that they can keep their independence and freedom around you. You are there to assist them, but you acknowledge that they can do most things independently. This simple act of respect will allow the patient to keep their dignity and to feel like they can keep their sense of self. This will in and of itself improve their mental health, and in turn, will improve the mental health of their family.
Care For Yourself So You Can Care for Others
It can feel selfish at times, especially when travel nursing, to take the time to care for yourself. However, it is imperative to protect your mental health as well as that of your patients. If you do not care for yourself, you will not fully provide the extent of care your patients need and deserve. In addition, once you find what works for you, you will be able to share those actions with your patients. They will be more likely to try different coping skills if they know that you also do them and help you as a healthcare traveler.
The CDC lists the following ways to cope with and decrease high-stress levels:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories.
- Take care of your body:
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco, and substance use.
- Continue with routine preventive measures.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
- Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations.
In conclusion, mental health is crucial for you as a healthcare traveler and for your patients. No matter what the pandemic brings, there will always be ways to cope. However, to ensure that you can adequately care for the patients you see when you are travel nursing, you must care for yourself. TLC Nursing cares about you, and we will be here to assist you in coping with this pandemic. Join our team at TLC Nursing and see what it means to be a part of a good travel nursing company.