A career in travel nursing presents unique benefits. You get to see the world, experience different cultures and customs, and take pride in knowing you’re making a difference where it’s needed most. While travel nursing assignments are typically only a few months at a time, it’s easy to get burnt out during those months, and it can be difficult to readjust to normalcy when you turn home.
To help mitigate the risk of burnout, time management is essential. You can integrate health and wellness practices into your daily routine that will help you get more out of your day. So, you can conquer the common challenges travel nurses face, and prioritize “me time” while on the move.
If it sounds easier said than done, you’re not alone. It’s not always easy for a nurse to practice self-care. But, it’s not selfish – it’s a necessity. Let’s cover a few time-saving health practices you can introduce into your life that will impact your overall well-being, and reduce the risk of burnout.
What Challenges Do Travel Nurses Face?
Some of the greatest benefits of being a travel nurse can also end up being some of the biggest drawbacks. You get to be in new, interesting locations for months at a time, but that means you’re away from friends and family. You might have to work in dangerous conditions. You’re always “on” when it comes to taking care of patients and might feel like you don’t have room in the day for an adequate break.
You might also not make the best dietary choices because you’re constantly moving. It’s easy to pick up an unhealthy snack from a vending machine, food cart, or fast food establishment. Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, you are what you eat. Poor dietary choices can negatively impact your energy levels, contribute to fatigue, and can even damage your teeth and gums.
Time management is, perhaps, the biggest challenge travel nurses face. It can be difficult to find a healthy work-life balance when you’re away from home. You might have to work longer shifts than you’re used to or work odd hours more often than not. Poor time management can lead to a lack of productivity, extra stress, fatigue, and burnout. When a nurse starts to experience burnout, it can impact their job in a variety of ways. You might start to lose motivation, and you could even start to take your frustrations out on your patients.
Tackling Time Management Skills
You might think you don’t have any room in your busy schedule for ‘me time,’ but there are plenty of skills you can use to manage your time and make room for a better work-life balance.
Start by making sure you’re with the right employer. Who manages your travel schedule and itinerary? Do they care about flexibility and promote their employees’ mental well-being? Don’t be afraid to talk to your employer about your needs, or consider making a switch if your current place of employment isn’t willing to work with your needs.
When you’re traveling, you can better manage your time by:
- Prioritizing your daily tasks
- Utilizing a planner or digital scheduling app
- Taking breaks
It’s also important to seek support when you’re in a new location or at home. You can’t do everything on your own, and while there are some tasks that can only be done by you, it’s okay to lean on your support system for other things. In the field, do what you can to delegate tasks, or ask for help when it’s needed. At home, the same rules apply. Ask family members and friends for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Maybe they can assist with getting your kids from school or making a grocery run for you. The people who love you want to see you happy and healthy, so lean on your support system.
Making Room for Self-Care
Finally, remind yourself that self-care isn’t selfish. It’s been misrepresented in recent years, but it’s not something that needs to be lavish or even take a lot of time. By implementing a few healthy practices into your daily routine, you can take advantage of the wellness benefits of self-care. Some of the easiest ways to start incorporating it into your life include:
- Practicing mindfulness and meditation
- Staying physically active
- Eating a healthy diet
- Prioritizing sleep
Self-care can look different depending on your stage of life and what you need and want. But, no matter your age, it’s important to be able to manage stress. Things like meditation, journaling, or even working with a therapist remotely are all great ways to reduce your stress, no matter how busy your schedule is.
Taking care of yourself with a bit of healthy pampering can also promote relaxation. For example, do you have a skincare routine? If not, it could be time to establish one. Skincare is important for everyone but is especially crucial for travel nurses who are exposed to a variety of different environments. Taking care of your skin through hydration and the right products can boost your physical well-being, and when you turn it into a routine, you can feel like you’re giving yourself a spa treatment every day.
You’re used to taking care of everyone else but don’t allow yourself to become an “empty cup” as a travel nurse. Keep these ideas in mind to prioritize your time and well-being, no matter your schedule.
Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, activism-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.
Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.