Andrew Wettengel / Friday, February 28, 2020 / Categories: Health, Work World


Travel nurses have one of the most stressful jobs in the world. Not only are travel nurses caring for ailing people, sometimes in life or death situations, but they also are constantly moving around and learning the lay of the land in a new city and medical facility. Between the stress and nature of short assignments, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of not taking proper care of yourself.

Here are a few of OneStaff Medical’s tips for staying healthy as a travel nurse on assignment.

1. Try to Eat Healthily

It can be so, so hard to eat healthy meals when you work long hours and are under a lot of stress. A huge part of the puzzle is having healthy foods on hand. Keeping a few easy-to-cook items in your pantry, fridge, and freezer can make healthy meals after a long shift much less of a hassle.

Boxed whole grains, frozen vegetables, lean proteins, eggs, and fresh produce are great things to keep on hand for a quick snack or an easy-to-put-together meal. For breakfast, oatmeal with fruit or an omelet will take very little time to make but will help you start the day with a healthy meal.

For lunch, you might want to throw together a sandwich with carrots and celery. You could also do a salad with an apple or banana. At dinner, you might consider an easy stir fry with chicken, your choice of vegetables, and brown rice. At most, these meals will take 30 minutes to put together and provide you with healthy calories.

A lot of travel nurses also have a lot of success with meal prepping. On one of your days off, you take the time to make a bunch of healthy meals to eat throughout the week. Meal prepping eliminates the need to cook meals daily. You can also pre-prepare snacks that are quick and easy

2. Find a Way to Reduce Stress

As we mentioned before, stress is a big part of this line of work. Reducing stress should be one of your top priorities, as stress can lead to heart disease, depression, and other health problems. Keep stress and anxiety at bay with whatever helps you. Consider deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, exercise, or reading to help you manage and reduce the stress in your life.

Getting a massage can also help reduce the physical stress your body undergoes. Nursing is a challenging job with a high level of demand on the human body. Between helping people move around and bending over frequently, your joints and muscles will take a severe beating. A relaxing massage can help soothe the aches, pains, and tension that is caused by the demands of the job and the stress you are feeling.

3. Get Regular Exercise

Routines are hard to establish when you are working short-term contracts in different parts of the country multiple times per year. If you are used to having a gym membership, this could be a challenge unless your regular gym is a national chain. Instead of paying increased fees for using a gym without a membership or constantly creating and canceling memberships, it might be time to find another solution.

Workout apps are one way that you can get a professional-quality workout in your home. You can purchase a small set of weights, resistance bands, a yoga mat, and a variety of other items that will help you get your workout in without having to set foot in the gym. Running and cycling can be done in the great outdoors.

As a nurse, you are likely to get a lot of exercise on the job. A fitness tracker can help you see how many steps you are getting each day, and even remind you to drink more water, which will come in handy for the next section of our list.

4. Drink Plenty of Water

It can be hard to drink enough water each day when you are hustling around at work. However, staying hydrated is very important. We recommend that you start your day with an eight-ounce glass of water to start the day off hydrated and to prevent overeating at breakfast.

Throughout the day, make it a habit to take time for a glass of water. If you are working, this might be difficult, but make it a priority to drink a few ounces of water every couple of hours.

5. Get Plenty of Sleep

Sleep is critical—especially in a job like nursing. Mistakes are more likely to happen when you are sleep deprived, and constantly changing can make sleep harder to obtain. It is best to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night (or day for night shifters), but that isn’t always an option if you have a long commute.

The best rule of thumb is to try to get as much sleep as possible between shifts and shoot for those seven to eight hours of sleep on days when you don’t have a shift.

6. Take Time for Yourself

Moving to different cities can be exciting, and you should get to enjoy your free time. Be sure that you are making time for the things you want to do while you are in each location. On your days off, explore the city, hike a new trail, spend the day on the beach, eat at a new restaurant, go out to a nightclub, get a massage, join a group and meet new people, or whatever else you like to do.

Our recruiters encourage all of our travel nurses to truly immerse themselves in the local culture and make friends with locals, as well as the other travel nurses that they work with. You never know when you will meet a life-long friend while on your assignment.

As a travel nurse, you are constantly concerned about the health of others. It is also important that you focus on your own health so that you can better serve your patients.

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