Top Tips for Stress Relief During Travel Nursing Jobs
Stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Whether you enjoy long-term travel nursing jobs or short travel nursing assignments, life as a travel nurse can definitely be stressful at times.
However, not to fret, April is Stress Awareness Month and there are several simple ways to manage this “mental or emotional strain.” Here are some of the top tips for managing stress as a travel nurse, both on and off the hospital floor.
This one may sound obvious, but when you’re on your feet for a 12-hour shift during any of your travel nursing jobs, breathing may take a back seat.
The goal of deep breathing is to focus your attention on your breath, making it slower and deeper. This helps slow your heart rate, allowing you to feel more at peace and in control. One breathing hack is to use a wearable device (like an Apple Watch) which can remind you when it is time to breathe. Some of these devices can also guide you through the process.
The best part of this tip is that you don’t have to take a break to complete it. Take 5-10 deep breaths when making your rounds and slow that heartbeat without skipping one. This tip can be paired with meditation or completed as a separate activity.
Exercise can boost your mood during travel nursing jobs
Physical health is directly tied to mental health. Regular exercise can help lower stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins and improving your self-image. As a travel nurse, joining a gym is not always an option, but it is also not the only avenue for exercise. Take a running, walking, or jogging tour of your new city. Find a local hike. Go for a swim. Take a yoga or Pilates class.
You can even search for exercise routines on YouTube and complete a full circuit in the comfort of your hotel room, apartment, etc. Find a workout buddy and hold each other accountable. While it is not always easy to start an exercise routine, once it is part of your daily schedule, you will begin feeling better and start looking forward it. In addition, having a wearable fitness-tracking device like an Apple Watch or Fitbit will help keep you motivated and show you how far you have come. Wearing one will help you stay focused and active during any of your travel nursing jobs.
As long as you sweat, the stress you will soon forget!
Sleep is essential for happiness during travel nursing jobs
Receiving the proper amount of sleep is key to be successful at any venture. This is especially true during travel nursing jobs. Getting enough sleep each night will help you be a successful and happy travel nurse. When we are tired, we tend to consume more caffeine, resulting in an increased level of anxiety and stress.
This will then affect the following night’s sleep and start a vicious cycle of restless sleep and stressful shifts. Experts recommend 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night for adults. It is important to put down the screens at least 30 minutes before attempting to fall asleep.
The blue light emitted by screens on cell phones, computers, tablets, and even televisions restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle or circadian rhythm. Also, to achieve the ultimate night’s sleep, try to avoid eating or exercising at least 3 hours before going to sleep.
Lastly, any caffeine consumed after 2 p.m. can have a direct impact on your sleep, even if the effects of the caffeine have worn off.
Go out in nature
Every type of travel nurse job is different. One benefit of this is you can find yourself immersed in a new environment every few weeks or months. Whether in a park, forest, or on a mountain, spending time in nature is clinically proven to reduce stress. This tip can be partnered with exercise, but you can also enjoy it sweat free. Instead of taking your break inside in a break room, walk outside and find the closest park.
The fresh air and Vitamin D will do wonders on your mood and help you stay fresh for the remainder of your shift. Finding nature can be as easy as a simple Google search, but the best results usually come from locals. Ask fellow staff members or people you meet in your new community for recommendations. This can also be a great icebreaker and perfect way to make friends in the town you are serving.
Make a list
One major cause of stress is the feeling of being out of control. Knowing your priorities, both on and off the job can be the key to living stress-free. Whether you are using the Notes app on your phone or the classic pen and paper, making a list creates order. It can also help with accountability and can increase productivity.
Moreover, checking items off the list provides an immediate sense of satisfaction which in turn can relieve stress and anxiety. You can decide whether to have separate lists for personal or professional use or decide to merge the two. When making the list, create your own priority scale.
You can use numbers, colors, code words, etc. as long as it is easy for you to recognize what tasks need to be accomplished first. Setting deadlines for your tasks will also help you stay on track and remain organized during any of your travel nursing jobs.
Travel nursing jobs can be filled with laughter—it will keep you healthy!
The best medicine in a hospital is not necessarily the penicillin. Laughter reduces blood pressure, reduces stress levels, triggers the release of endorphins, and so much more. Go see a local comedy show, binge-watch the latest Netflix hit, or listen to a comedy podcast.
You can also just tell a joke to your fellow nurses on the floor (just make sure the joke is not at another nurse’s expense). No matter the cause of the laughter, the effects can get you through a tough shift.
We all know meditation is supposed to center oneself and reduce stress, but how do we find the time to locate a studio or even begin the practice, especially with a travel nurse schedule? The secret is in our pocket. There is a treasure trove of meditation apps available to make you the master of your domain.
You can listen to a session while on a break, after waking up, before going to sleep, or even add it to a routine with a patient (with their permission of course). Meditation can be combined with yoga, but it can also be enjoyed without it. According to Women’s Health, here are the top 6 best meditation apps. Give one (or all!) of them a try during any of your travel nursing jobs.
Ready to put these tips into action?
We know the process of finding the perfect location for your next (or first) travel-nursing job can add to the stress, but we are here to help! If you are wondering how to find great travel nursing jobs, it’s a snap when you work with a travel RN recruiter like MedPro Healthcare Staffing.
The experts at MedPro will help you find placements in the best cities for travel nurses. In addition, because we want each assignment to be your best yet, we offer the MedPro Experience® program—a personalized employee experience program that embraces and celebrates you! Let MedPro Healthcare Staffing be tip number 8! To learn more and begin your travel nurse career, contact us today at 1-800-866-8108, or apply here!