The post-holiday season and winter months can take a toll on our mental health, especially for nurses and travel nurses who may already be grappling with nursing shortages, burnout, and the impact of the pandemic. The responsibilities and demands of daily life can be overwhelming during this time, but help is available. By utilizing the following mental health tips for travel nurses, you can maintain a sense of contentment and well-being, even in the face of stress and uncertainty. Our tips are realistic, achievable, and can make a significant difference in your overall mental health.
Some mental health tips for travel nurses include:
- Keeping a journal
- Seeking support from a mental health professional if needed
- Prioritizing self-care and taking time for yourself
- Maintaining a healthy routine, including getting the right amount of sleep
In 2023, the healthcare industry is taking a closer look at mental health and its impact on the workforce. The connection between healthcare work and burnout is being examined in a meaningful and respectful way, recognizing the importance of addressing this critical issue. With female nurses facing a higher risk of burnout and depression, and nurses having elevated rates of suicide ideation, it is crucial that the healthcare industry take action.
Additionally, depression is more prevalent in women and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can affect individuals during the winter months, adding to the complex mix of emotions and feelings that need to be addressed. This discussion around mental health in healthcare is a critical one that must be given the attention it deserves.
What Can Travel Nurses Do For Their Mental Health?
Keep A Journal And Using It Excessively
Journaling may seem like a simple activity, but it can actually have a powerful impact on your mental health. By writing down your thoughts and feelings every day, you can gain insight into what’s affecting you and potentially find ways to deal with stress, anxiety, and depression. Over time, journaling can also help you identify patterns in negative thoughts, self-talk, and behaviors, and find triggers and solutions.
To get started, all you need is a blank journal and a pen. If you’re not sure what to write, set a timer for 10 minutes and don’t stop writing until the time is up. This can be a great way to dive deeper into your mind. Don’t underestimate the power of journaling – give it a try!
Talking It All Out With A Professional, Off The Books
Taking care of our mental health can be a challenge, especially when we’re in an industry as demanding as healthcare. The pressure to perform at a high level, coupled with the emotional demands of the job, can take a toll on even the most resilient individuals. For travel nurses, the added stress of being away from home can amplify these feelings.
That’s why seeking out a confidential therapy option is vital for maintaining good mental health. Talking to a professional who is trained to listen and guide you through life’s challenges can provide the support you need. However, for many healthcare workers, the stigma attached to seeking therapy and the fear of jeopardizing their job or licensing can be a barrier.
To overcome these challenges, consider seeking self-pay therapy options, such as online counseling, and using a pseudonym to maintain anonymity. Remember, taking care of your mental health is just as important as physical health, and it’s okay to reach out for help when you need it.
Take The Time To Decompress Post Shift
Some shifts can be more challenging than others and can leave us feeling overwhelmed. To help you recover from intense shifts, it’s important to engage in decompression activities, also known as self-care activities. As a travel nurse with the opportunity to explore new places, you have many options for decompressing.
One effective way to decompress is to go for a walk. Research by England’s Mental Health Foundation and Sport England shows that low-impact aerobic exercise performed at least three to four times a week for 30 minutes can reduce stress, improve self-esteem, prevent decline in cognitive processes, and calm the mind. If possible, take a walk in a natural setting to benefit from the mindfulness that nature promotes and boost your immune system.
If walking is not always an option, other simple activities that help you disconnect from your thoughts include eating out, napping, meditating, swimming, or enjoying a coffee in a peaceful environment. Find what works for you, whether it’s something that makes you feel more present, relieves stress, and provides a mental reset, and make it a part of your routine for better mental health.
You Will Always Need Good Sleep
As a travel nurse who often works unconventional hours, it’s crucial to prioritize quality sleep. Disrupted sleep patterns can lead to a range of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, depression, and an increased risk of injury. Adequate sleep is essential for brain function, reducing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, and giving the body the chance to reset. Neglecting sleep can have serious consequences, so make sure it’s a top priority in your routine.
While sleeping can be considerably easier for some and extremely difficult for others, the main ways to support your sleep are:
- Avoid caffeine late into the day.
- Stay off devices an hour before bed.
- Keep the television in the living room.
- Use black-out curtains for day sleeping.
- Don’t eat a meal right before sleep.
- Use low lights.
- Journal to let out any negative emotions stored inside of you.
- Drink a calming tea like chamomile or sleep and relaxing tea mixes.
- Keep consistent in your sleeping and waking-up time frames.
It’s important to keep things simple and attainable. You may not be able to utilize these techniques every day, as life can be unpredictable. However, by establishing a routine that incorporates these strategies, you’ll have a solid foundation to fall back on and the tools to support your mental health.
Maintaining good mental health is crucial for travel nurses, and there are several reasons why choosing this career path can have a positive impact. Setting a flexible schedule, gaining diverse work experience, earning a good income, and traveling the country are all benefits that can contribute to improving one’s mental well-being. Many travel nurses choose this route as a way to alleviate symptoms of burnout, anxiety, and depression. If you’re interested in learning more about how travel nursing can benefit your mental health, contact us for more information.