TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF AS A TRAVEL NURSE WITH THE ADDED STRESS OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON
The holiday season is in full swing, but this means being away from family and friends for many travel nurses. Unlike people in many other occupations, nurses don’t get a break during the holidays. They are needed 24/7. Traveling nurses experience even more added stress around the holidays because they are away from home and sometimes in an unfamiliar area.
As a traveling nurse, it is always essential to practice self care, but this becomes even more important during the holidays.
Why Self Care Is So Important for Travel Nurses
Nurses must be compassionate and caring, and usually, these qualities come naturally to those in the field. However, constantly caring for others takes a lot of energy, so nurses need to recharge.
Nursing can also be strenuous on your body. You are on your feet a lot throughout the day caring for patients. The physical demands of the job can begin to wear on you if you don’t practice self care. You may even start to carry stress physically in your neck, shoulders, or back. This can hinder both your overall health and affect the quality of care you can provide to your patients. The better you take care of yourself, the better care you can provide to patients.
Finally, travel nursing can be lonely if you aren’t bringing along a partner, friend, or children to keep you company. If travel nursing ever gets lonely for you, self care can also mean video chatting with friends and family.
Taking Care of Yourself During the Holidays
When you mix in the stress of the holiday season as a travel nurse, self care becomes even more important. This busy time of year can be strenuous for anyone. However, when you add factors such as working long hours or being away from family on the holidays, it becomes even more important to prioritize self care.
8 Ways to Take Care of Yourself as a Travel Nurse During the Holidays’
Veteran travel nurses may be used to the holiday season. However, we wanted to share our tips for taking care of yourself during the holidays, especially if this is your first year being away from home during this special time of year.
1. Stay Active
We all know staying active and exercising offers many benefits for our mental health. However, it may be challenging to set time aside to be active around the holiday season because you’re busy with work and holiday errands like shopping for gifts or writing holiday cards.
With the added stress of the holiday season, be sure to set time aside to exercise or be active. If weather permits, going outside is a great way to exercise while also getting fresh air. Hiking or walking around the city are great ways to explore the local area while staying active. If your assignment is in a cold climate, you can still get outside even if there is snow on the ground. Snowshoeing, ice skating, and sledding are examples of things you can do outside during the winter weather.
2. Do Yoga
Yoga and stretching offer many benefits. Doing yoga can be great for both your mental and physical health. Your posture and core strength can improve significantly by doing just 12 minutes of yoga per day. Yoga practices are also great for your mental health as you work on breathing techniques and meditation.
If you prefer other forms of physical activity, it is still important to stretch before and after. You run the risk of injuring yourself if you don’t, and this could affect your ability to be on your feet at work. If you are sore from a long shift, doing a couple of stretches is a great way to relax your muscles, prevent aches and pains as you sleep, and unwind before bed.
3. Treat Yo'self
You work hard and deserve to treat yourself. Put something for yourself on your holiday shopping list. There are many ways you can treat yourself this holiday season that will also reduce the stress that comes with being a traveling nurse during this busy time of year. Here are a few ideas:
- Get a manicure and/or pedicure, massage, or facial
- Go out to a nice dinner
- Buy new cozy pajamas or loungewear
- Attend local holiday events, like tree lightings
- Set up an at-home spa day
- Bake some sweet treats
- Cook an intricate meal for yourself
- Buy an adult coloring book
As a traveling nurse, rest is vital to both your health and safety as well as your patients’. Ensuring you are getting enough sleep is always important, but many people find it more difficult during the holiday season. Try to stick to your sleep schedule as much as you can during this busy time.
Rest, however, does not just mean getting enough sleep. Be sure to take breaks throughout your shift. Working straight through will only lead to burn out.
5. Explore Your Creative Side with Crafts
There are plenty of crafts you can do around the holidays. From making ornaments to painting scenic winter views, there are plenty of ways to get in touch with your creative side, celebrate the holidays, and destress from long nursing shifts. Plus, some of these crafts could even make great presents for family and friends.
6. Try a New, Relaxing Hobby
Hobbies are a great way to unwind after a long day as they allow you to spend time doing something you enjoy. However, it’s always fun to explore new hobbies as well. Reading, doing puzzles, and water coloring are all fun, relaxing ways to spend your evening. If you haven’t gotten into cooking yet, now is the time to try. Cooking delicious, nutritious meals is an excellent form of self care. Think about other hobbies that you can try to keep the holiday season exciting if you are away from family.
7. Stay Connected with Family
Travel nursing often means being away from your family. While you may be used to this by now, it can still be more challenging to be away from your family around the holidays. Staying connecting with your family (and friends) can help manage the stress of being away for the holidays. If you are working on Christmas, take your breaks as an opportunity to check in with loved ones and message friends.
8. Make Plans to Celebrate
Although it will probably be hard to stick to holiday traditions, try to think of ways to celebrate the season. Go to local events, tour holiday light shows, or watch old Christmas movies that you love. If you are working on Christmas or during Hanukkah, keeping busy with fun holiday activities throughout the month can help you manage the feeling of missing your usually holiday plans.
We want to hear from you! How are you prioritizing self care this holiday season?
One Staff Medical is a travel nursing staffing agency that works with healthcare facilities and nurses to fulfill needs across the country. If you are interested in working with one of our staffers, call us today at 877-783-1483.