It’s one of the great ironies of nursing that, while spending long hours caring for the health of patients, nurses often neglect their own wellness. For travel nurses in particular, seeing different parts of the country is rewarding, but the frequent travel can also be stressful, which isn’t conducive to wellness. With some careful planning and a few precautions, travel nurses can effectively manage their own health as well as that of their patients.
Nurses know better than most people about the importance of staying hydrated. Dehydration can affect your ability to do your job well, since it can lead to lethargy, headaches, and difficulty concentrating. However, staying hydrated while working a long shift is easier said than done. Many hospitals ban nurses from carrying water bottles into patient care areas because of concerns about germs.
However, you can likely stash a reusable water bottle at the nurses’ station, the break room, or on your med cart. Set a reminder alert on your watch or phone to help you remember to take a few sips at least every hour.
And don’t forget to stay hydrated while traveling to a new travel nursing job! The pressurized, recycled air within an airplane cabin is very dehydrating. Skip the alcohol and request bottled water instead.
Pack Portable Exercise Equipment
There’s no substitute for exercise. Physical activity prevents and treats certain diseases, elevates the mood, and strengthens the immune system. Exercise is so beneficial for one’s health that some researchers have proposed prescribing it like a medication.
Experienced travel nurses learn to be minimalists while packing, but you can still bring some exercise equipment with you. If your travel nurse company is sending you to a destination you can drive to, consider adding a bike rack to your car. Biking is a great way to explore your new city. If you’re flying, consider investing in any of the portable exercise equipment below.
· Jump rope (try challenging yourself with a weighted jump rope)
· Skip Fit
· TRX Suspension Trainer
· Resistance bands
· Yoga mat (bring a few yoga or ballet workout DVDs)
Take Advantage of Local Wellness Resources
As soon as you land a new job through your travel nurse company, you can start researching the destination. Do a Google search for fitness centers that offer monthly, rather than yearly memberships. If there’s a good chance you’ll have trouble motivating yourself to get to the gym, look for fitness classes instead. Challenge yourself to try something different, like kickboxing, Krav Maga, or aerial yoga. Fitness classes can be more motivating than a gym membership. Once you sign up for a class, you’ll feel obligated to attend.
Prioritize Your Nutrition
Not every hospital is lucky enough to have a great cafeteria with healthy choices. But you can still prioritize your nutrition. Skip the vending machines and bring enough healthy snacks to get you through a shift. Try for a mix of protein and complex carbs, like cheese with whole grain crackers. Fruit does double duty as a snack and source of water. On your day off, you can prepare and pack enough healthy lunches to get you through until your next day off.
Enjoy Nature Therapy
Your mental wellness is just as important as your physical health. Nature therapy, also called ecotherapy, is one way to support both aspects of well-being. According to Counseling Today, the average person spends 90% of the time indoors. This is a historic shift in the way humans have previously experienced nature, and some researchers suggest nature deprivation can encourage everything from anxiety to obesity.
It isn’t necessary to go on a multi-day hiking trip to get back in touch with nature. Just look for everyday opportunities to get outdoors. Take your lunch break outside and enjoy the fresh air. On your day off, find a local park or wildlife preserve. Practice mindfulness while outdoors by paying attention to the sounds, smells, and colors of the natural world. It’ll refresh you, and you’ll feel ready to tackle the challenges of your next shift.
Stability Healthcare has a growing reputation as being among the best travel nursing agencies, thanks to the intuitive online platform, exceptional resources, and pay transparency. If you’re looking for your next travel nurse job, sign up with Stability Healthcare today.