Handling Your Emotions as a Travel Nurse

One of the most challenging aspects of being a nurse is managing your emotions. When you’re a travel nurse, this often means you don’t have your core support system by your side to balance the long shift and emotional-draining days that come with being a nurse. Some days, especially when anxiety levels are higher than usual, handling your emotions can seem like an impossible task. Nonetheless, you still have to power through and continue duty as usual.

Focus on Self-Care

When your job is to care for others all day, it’s easy to forget about caring for yourself. However, the best way to handle your emotions is by focusing on self-care. From making sure you’re eating healthy, taking time to do things you enjoy, and caring for your mental health. 

Even with hectic schedules, you can still find a few minutes to focus on self-care. The best way to incorporate self-care into your lifestyle is by setting a time on your schedule. Set 15-minutes to a daily lecture, go for a walk outside, or something as simple as taking a hot shower at the end of the day. 

Work on Your Emotional Intelligence

One of the most critical skills you’ll develop as a nurse is your emotional intelligence. One study says emotional intelligence (EI) can be 2x as important as technical skills. Successful nurses have an above-average EI, which will be essential to manage your emotions. 

Working on your EI will not help boost your professional career, as people with high EI tend to be more empathetic. But, it will also help you manage how other people’s emotions affect you. Some ways to work on your emotional intelligence include:

  • Practicing self-awareness
  • Motivating yourself to do what you love
  • Staying open to feedback

Find a Support System

In any job, especially in nursing, finding “your person,” one you can go to for support and venting. Having this kind of support at work is paramount, particularly for dealing with highly emotional days. Find a person that you can trust, that lets you describe how you’re feeling, and shares frustrations but also is as passionate as you’re about nursing. 

Additionally, working on maintaining your support system back home. If your family isn’t close, make sure you reach out to them whenever possible. Phone calls, text messages, and video calls are all wonderful ways to stay connected with your family. 

Have a Safe Space

While having friends at work helps take time off and relax, you also need a safe space. Find a safe space at work you can resort to whenever you need a few minutes for yourself. Consider this safe space your venting space to cry, deep breathe, sit for a minute or two. Don’t be picky about this spot. The bathroom, an empty patient room, or a staff break room can also be helpful. 

Practice Deep Breathing

The power of breathing can do wonders for managing your emotions. All you need is five minutes to reset yourself. Whenever you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or experiencing emotional stress on the job, a deep breathing practice can help. 

One of the most popular and effective breathing technique is the 4-7-8 technique. Here’s how to do it:

  • Exhale making a whoosh sound.
  • Close your lips, breathe in for four.
  • Hold your breath for seven counts. 
  • Exhale and open your lips, making a whooshing sound for eight counts. 

When you take time to practice deep breathing, make sure you do so in a quiet and calm space. Remember that you can’t control everything, deep breath can help you regain control of your emotions. 

Know When to Seek Help

While we can do many things to manage our emotions as nurses, sometimes it isn’t enough. Recognize that sometimes talking to a professional can be beneficial. A mental health professional can help you find the right techniques for managing your anxiety levels. Try to carve time in your schedule to visit a therapist or talk in a support group. 

If you’re noticing that your anxiety levels are higher, you’re struggling with depressive episodes, or you’re having a harder time than usual processing emotions, it might be time to speak to someone.  

Handling Your Emotions Is an Ongoing Process

Every day is a different hurdle. If you have a difficult patient or an emotional case, know that it’s okay to cry, to feel stressed, or to need a break. It’s fine to need to talk away from the situation. 

Remember that handling your emotions is an ongoing process. Take time to focus on your emotional intelligence. Find a mentor how can couch you through emotionally-challenging situations. And practice self-awareness in your life. Recognizing and managing your emotions as a travel nurse will benefit your professional and personal life. 

If you ever need help with assignments, handling the stress of continually moving, or need the right assistance to find help. Don’t forget to reach out to your agency recruiter for help. 



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