A How-to Guide: Surviving the Holidays as a Travel Nurse

CategoriesTravel Nursing

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and you might be stuck at the hospital or away from friends and family. Being a travel nurse during the holiday season can be especially daunting, especially during a pandemic, but we’ve got some tips for surviving the holiday season. Take a look:

Prioritize + Take Care of Yourself

Get a good night’s (or day’s) rest  

  1. Getting enough sleep is imperative to having enough energy throughout the day. If your schedule allows it, The New York Times sleep guide suggests trying to fall asleep and waking up roughly at the same time each day.
  2.  Additionally, no screens a bit before bed can help put your mind at ease and help you to fall asleep faster. If you need to have your phone by you for the alarm, try putting it in your room but out of arm’s reach so you won’t be tempted to check social media before bed. 

Make time for exercise

  1. If you exercise outside of your shift, The New York Times suggests working out in the morning. This typically leads to a more rewarding night’s sleep. According to a Vascular Health and Risk Management study, adults who exercised around 7 am typically got a better night’s rest. 
  2. Exercising doesn’t mean you have to go to a gym. It can be as simple as going for a long walk or playing a socially distant sport. The CDC explains that “Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and anxiety and help you sleep better.”

Relaxation and Self-Care

  1. Mediation just isn’t for yogi and spiritual people. It has numerous health benefits, especially for stressed-out travel nurses. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health points out that “There is moderate evidence that meditation improves symptoms of anxiety. A 2014 review of the literature found that mindfulness meditation programs had moderate evidence of improved anxiety, depression, and pain, and low evidence of improved stress/distress and mental health-related quality of life.”
  2. The New York Times has a great guide for those interested in meditating. Since travel nurses are busy, especially during holidays, it’s important to note that “setting aside time for formal meditation is an important way to establish a routine and get comfortable with the practice. Even just a few minutes a day can make a big difference” (New York Times). 

Virtually connect with friends and family

  1. Realistically, as a travel nurse, you most likely won’t be able to be around friends and family for the holidays. This is the perfect time to schedule some holiday facetime or phone calls or shoot a friend a text. 
  2. Crafting an old fashioned letter never goes out of style. Not only is it a thoughtful way of communicating, but you have the chance to pick up and use cute holiday stamps!
  3. No matter what religion or holiday you practice, sending holiday packages to friends and family can be a gentle reminder you’re thinking of them. Opening gifts doesn’’t have to just be under the Christmas tree, on a special day, or on a birthday! Schedule a group zoom to see reactions to the treats you buy them. 

Don’t Forget the Holiday Spirit

Treat Yourself

  1. Don’t forget about yourself, treat yourself! There’s a long list of websites with creative self-care guides, such as Refinery29, Marie Claire, The Manual, Men’s Health, and more. Self-care isn’t just limited to vegging out and eating ice cream (although those are certainly reasonable!). Self-care is tailored to you, so choose a socially-distant activity to do on a day off that makes you feel good. 
  2. Buy yourself something nice! While being a travel nurse, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself during a hectic time. If you want a creative way of finding gifts to treat yourself, there’s plenty of gift guides during the holiday season. If you need ideas, our very own Stability Healthcare blog has a list full of themVogue, Refinery29, Buzzfeed, and Self are a few more gift guides to browse. 

Bring Holiday Joy to the Unit

  1. There’s no better way to bring positive energy than to have a little fun. Make decorations to lift spirits in the unit – here are some fun ideas.
  2. Find some festive attire! While you’ll still need to wear your scrubs and adhere to hospital policy, there are fun ways to get creative on the holidays. Decorate your badge with candy canes, wear festive headbands – reindeer horns, elf ears, Christmas tree lights, the possibilities are endless!
  3. Bring in treats for your unit. For some inspiration take a look at our article on tips for bringing in holiday goodies! With COVID, protocol in your hospital might look a little different than normal so be sure to check on what rules are in place ahead of time.

Decorate Your Living Situation

  1. You don’t have to go above and beyond, but even a little garland or some string lights can lift your mood.
  2. If you don’t want any extra decor, throw some Christmas music on the speakers and some cookies in the oven to set the mood.
  3. Cozy up your space for the winter so you can feel your most comfortable – here are some tips. 

Ready to start the travel nursing journey? Head to our website to see open roles. 

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