7 Stress Management Tips for Travel Nurses
How to cope with nursing stress and enjoy your travel RN jobs
By Andrya Feinberg, contributor
Stress is part of every job, and nurses seem to have more than their share. Daily pressures can range from life and death responsibilities and physical exhaustion to never-ending documentation, difficult patients, difficult doctors and more. So what’s a nurse to do--especially if you’re a travel nurse?
While moving and getting acclimated to a new place may add more stress at the beginning of an assignment, travel nurses actually have some unique opportunities to achieve balance in their lives and avoid being stressed out. Many see their travel nursing jobs like a working vacation! Plus, the recruitment team at Onward Healthcare can take the job-hunting burden off your shoulders and support you throughout the process.
Stress management for nurses who travel
Here are seven ways that travel nurses can combat stress and make the most of their travel RN adventures:
1. Get more sleep. Not enough sleep, and we’re tired, grumpy, sluggish, and irritable--and stressful situations seem more overwhelming. How much sleep is enough? The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day for optimal health, and offers tips to help you get the sleep you need.
Hospitals also understand that adequate sleep is important to help their staff remain alert, relieve stress, avoid medical errors and ensure patient safety. Some make it possible for their staff and travel nurses to take restorative naps during their breaks. According to the researchers in a 2011 study in Critical Care Nurse, “Several studies support positive outcomes for on-duty napping for health professionals. Even a short, 20-minute nap was viewed by some nurses as restorative, allowing them to better attend to their job and improve their work performance.” Ask about the napping policy at your assignment facility.
2. Find your own path to relaxation. In the midst of a hectic shift, be mindful of when you might need to stop and do some relaxation breathing exercises to avoid feeling overwhelmed. It takes just a minute, according to this short video featuring clinical psychologist Patricia Ferrell on WebMD. Once you are off shift and getting ready for bed, take the time to unwind from the pressures of the day (or night). After you are packed and ready for the next shift, soak in the tub, curl up on the couch, have a glass of wine, read a book, listen to music or do whatever it is that helps you relax.
3. Get organized. Experienced travel nurses have learned that being organized helps make traveling and working easier. From making packing checklists to setting up your new apartment and getting ready for each shift, the extra time spent on organization will help streamline your life and avoid some stressful situations altogether. Do you often find yourself rushing off to work or forgetting something important? Plan ahead to have your clothes, personal items and some healthy food items ready to go, and you’ll start your shifts feeling ready and relaxed.
4. Get more exercise. Even though you can walk a few miles during your shifts, some concentrated exercise--especially outside in the fresh air--can help relieve stress, alleviate anxiety and help you feel more energized. Whether you choose to take a leisurely stroll around the park, run on the beach, hike some trails, take a swim or do some intense workouts, exercise is a proven stress-relieving technique that you can do wherever your assignments take you. It is good for your body and your mind.
5. Unplug and explore. When travel nurses are in a new place with so many things to see and do, it’s crucial to unplug from all the technical devices and get outside! Even if the weather isn’t cooperating, you can still go to a museum, a restaurant or an event that gets you out of the hospital and your apartment--and away from the digital noise.
Instead of watching depressing TV news or “friending” people and “liking” things online, get out there and experience the real-life sights and sounds of your new community; meet some locals and make the most of where you are! You’ll be amazed at how it can elevate your mood and keep stress under control.
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6. Take time off between assignments. As an Onward Healthcare travel nurse, you’ll have the unique opportunity to work with a recruiter who can find short-term jobs (usually 4-13 weeks) that work around your schedule! Some travel RNs can go home for a week or two, plan a vacation getaway or fit in extended side trips between their travel nursing jobs. These types of breaks give you something to look forward to and offer the chance to de-stress and re-energize before starting the next job.
7. Use your support system. Travel nurses may be in a new environment, but there are usually others in the same shoes. Fellow travelers often make a great sounding board and can become fast friends, so make the effort to spend some time together and reach out if you need to talk. You can also lean on the hospital staff for help with answers to questions, or talk to your Onward Healthcare recruiter or clinical liaison if you have any issues.
Of course, your family and friends back home are also just a phone call or Skype visit away. And if you travel with a pet, a friend or a loved one, they can be there when you get off work to provide understanding and a welcome diversion.
Are you ready to embark on a new adventure? Check out our travel nursing jobs today or get answers to travel nursing FAQs; then contact an Onward recruiter to move your nursing career onward and upward!
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