Traveling is always a challenge, particularly when weather events thwart our efforts to arrive on time. For the traveling nurse, this can create new worries as part of a career already noted for the level of stress we undergo. Nursing World says, “Stress amongst nurses is one of the most underappreciated yet impactful issues nurses face.”
All stress can negatively impact our health. Ironically, while nurses retain the role of caregivers in the healthcare profession, as we all know they make a terrible patient. This means typically that traveling nurses may not give themselves time to decompress, relax, and acclimate to a new assignment. Nursing is stressful enough. How can traveling nurses consciously work to reduce the added impact of travel?
- Stay organized during travel
For the steadily-traveling nurse, it’s helpful to have a “go” bag with some of the standard items you take on assignment. Even the act of laying out your clothes and priming the coffeepot the night before can knock a little stress off a morning routine, especially on travel days. When going to the airport, try to give yourself plenty of time to get through security screening to reduce airport stress. Most nurses are pretty organized, but try to develop a standardized system for managing travel itineraries and directions to your assignments. This will help prevent the stress of trying to find important documents that aren’t in one place.
- Get more sleep
We’ve read the studies on sleep deprivation’s impact on our health. For the traveling nurse, sleep is particularly important as a way to recharge and rejuvenate. Getting the requisite seven or nine hours of sleep for optimal health is exactly what we need to better manage the stress of nursing and the added stresses of travel.
- Find a way to relax before, during, and after work
The beauty of wearable devices is that we can set them to reminds us to focus inward on the small things that can make a big difference in our stress level. For traveling nurses that don’t have a Fitbit or other device, finding time to do deep breathing exercises, even in the midst of a crazy workday, can help alleviate stress. Even a short walk before work can help center your mind for the day ahead. After work make a conscious effort to shut down your electronics and simply relax with a bath to unwind before the day starts all over again.
While you’re probably getting in 20,000 steps every day, taking even 20-minutes three times a week to do cardio or relaxation activities like yoga is particularly important to alleviate stress. When was the last time you went outside to walk in the woods? Are you in a new location with a beach or a pool? Try to take advantage of the local color by shifting your exercise to take in the scenery on a hiking trail. We promise if you take even a little time each week to get out there and move it will pay back huge dividends in reduced stress and improved energy.
Talk with MAS Medical about your traveling schedule. We offer a variety of assignments that can help you adjust your work/life balance into a more manageable routine. In the meantime, take care of yourself out there on the road.