The nursing profession has always been a vital area of healthcare. Attracting people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, this challenging yet highly rewarding profession is the lifeblood of every healthcare system around the world. Admired for their compassion, kindness and bedside manner, nurses work tirelessly to serve the needs of their patients, helping them on their road to recovery.
While these healthcare heroes have always been in high demand, the current nursing shortage in the U.S. means their skills are needed in greater numbers than before. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of nurse practitioners is projected to grow by 40% over the next decade, much faster than the average for any other occupation.
One of the ways the medical system is meeting staff shortages is through the services of travel nurses who fill positions on a temporary basis all across the country. The ability to visit new places with travel nurse assignments while gaining a wealth of experience in different specialisms is just one of the many travel nurse benefits to be enjoyed in this role. While this is a highly fulfilling and sought-after role by many nurses it also comes with additional stressors associated with constant relocation, the need to adapt to unfamiliar environments and routines, and being away from home for long periods of time.
In this article, we will look at some of the ways travel nurses can look after their mental health and well-being ensuring they are taking care of themselves while taking care of others.
Take Time for Yourself
Nursing can be a demanding profession without the added pressures of traveling to different parts of the country and familiarizing yourself with new work settings, colleagues and routines. To avoid exhaustion and burnout it’s important to take the time to relax and decompress, which will help you to recharge physically and mentally and allow you to better serve your patients.
Carve out some time for yourself regularly, where you take your mind off your work and do something enjoyable and stress-free. Whether it’s spending time in nature or exploring your new surroundings, booking a yoga class or a day at the spa, taking a break from your work routine will refresh you and enable you to perform at your best each day.
In recent years, mindfulness techniques have been touted for their stress-reducing benefits both in and out of the workplace and the nursing profession is no exception. While working in this high-stress profession can take its toll on nurses, mindfulness practices have been shown to help nurses develop the skills they need to handle stress and reduce burnout.
Studies have found that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MSBR), a technique developed in 1979 by Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, can help nurses increase empathy, self-compassion, serenity, job satisfaction, and wellbeing as well as decrease burnout.
Incorporating some of the mindfulness practices taught in MSBR and other mindfulness techniques such as cultivating a greater awareness of your body, breath and mind as well as your unconscious thoughts and feelings can help improve your overall wellbeing and make you more present and focused in your work and throughout your day.
To help ward off feelings of social isolation during lengthy assignments in new surroundings, making friends and sharing experiences with others can enrich your time there, making it more enjoyable and fulfilling.
While it is tempting to go home after a long and demanding shift, try to take the opportunity to participate in social events with your new colleagues or invite them out to dinner after work. Getting to know your co-workers will not only enhance your work life but it can also give you great company on your days off to explore your locale whether it’s going out for a hike or a tour around the city.
Get Enough Sleep
Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood so it is important to create healthy sleeping patterns, especially when traveling to ensure you are well-rested in body and mind. Below are a few tips to help you improve the quality of your sleep:
- Avoid caffeine, large meals, and alcohol before going to bed
- Establish a bedtime routine to let your body and mind know it’s time for bed
- Ensure your room is dark and quiet at night or wear an eye mask to keep any light out
- Eliminate technology and screen time at least one hour before going to sleep
By following the guidance in this article, your mental health and overall wellbeing will benefit greatly, allowing you to care for your patients and undertake each new assignment with energy and enthusiasm.