Travel nursing can be a stressful career. As with any job, there will be things you love and things you don’t love quite so much. From rotating shifts to frequent moves, working as a travel nurse, travel LPN, or travel CNA can, at times, take a toll on your mental health and make it difficult to relax when you do have some downtime. So how can you enjoy the career that you love and reduce stress? Read on for some great tips to do just that.
When you don’t get enough sleep, not only do you become tired, sluggish, and even irritable, but stressful situations can seem overwhelming. A good travel nurse staffing agency will recognize that getting enough sleep is vital to help employees stay alert, reduce stress, reduce medical errors, and guarantee patient safety. Some even allow employees to take naps during their breaks.
How much sleep should you be getting? The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults aim for between seven and nine hours of sleep each day and offers information and tips for getting more and better quality sleep. You can find some great tips for how to handle rotating shifts and night shifts as a travel nurse here.
Get (and stay) organized
Getting (and staying) organized can help cut down on headaches and stress. After all, when you’re moving frequently and keeping a busy work and travel schedule, knowing where to find information and things saves you time and aggravation.
From setting up your living space to making checklists for packing and preparing before each shift, additional time spent on organization will help facilitate your life and eliminate some stressful factors entirely. If you often find yourself running late for work, for example, it will help you to to organize your clothes, plan and stick to a pre-work routine, have some healthy food ready to go, and leave yourself a window of time to make sure you make it to your shift on time.
Listen to music
Music has a dramatic effect on mood. Classical music and music with slow, melodic patterns has the most calming effect. (For a list of the world’s most relaxing songs, you can visit here.) Nowadays you can find music for practically any mood by searching Spotify, YouTube, or your choice of radio stations or apps. The bottom line is that any music you enjoy will increase the secretion of feel-good chemicals in the nervous system, decrease secretion of stress hormones like cortisol, and help you relax.
Similar to music, laughter releases feel-good chemicals in the brain and nervous system, ultimately reducing stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.”
Sticking to a diet that contains fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats helps keep your immune system healthy, which in turn helps to lower stress. In particular, foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, nuts, and seeds have been shown to lower production of stress hormones in the body.
Treats are fine now and then, but a diet containing large amounts of sugar, caffeine, and fat can tax your body and trigger increased stress and inflammation in the body.
You can find easy, healthy snack ideas for busy travel nurses here!
Stick to schedules and routines
You may be wondering how to do this when, by its very nature, travel nursing can be unpredictable and varied. While you may not know where you’ll be traveling next or what adventures await, there are some things you can schedule and routines you can put in place. Particularly during uncertain times, having a routine can be comforting and reduce overall stress.
Even if you don’t start work at the same time every day or work the same schedule every week, think about areas where you can implement schedules and routine. Starting and sticking to an exercise routine can provide a great way to reduce stress, for example. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day whenever possible can also help lower stress.
And, perhaps most important of all, don’t forget to schedule time to relax! Many times, we become so busy that it can help to block off time each day, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes, to laugh, listen to music, go for a quick walk, or take a cat nap. These small actions can add up to big health benefits.
Get outdoors and explore
Did you know that spending time in nature lowers stress? Whether you head to a nearby park, explore the area surrounding your latest travel nursing assignment, or go camping for the weekend, seize opportunities to immerse yourself in nature. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you!