There’s no denying that nursing can be a stressful career. Long shifts, odd hours, and caring for multiple patients at once can become mentally draining.
That’s why, for Stress Awareness Month, we want to share some tips for nurses to manage stress and meet each day with the right mindset.
Why is stress management so important?
There are many reasons why nurses should take stress management seriously. Your quality of life improves dramatically when you take steps to reduce stress. Without good coping strategies, you may find that you have trouble sleeping, focusing, and experiencing positive emotions.
When you arrive at work with a clear head, you’ll find it much easier to accomplish your tasks, avoid making mistakes, and celebrate your victories.
If stress becomes too much to bear, it can lead to burnout. Burnout is especially prevalent among healthcare workers in recent years, leading to higher rates of turnover. Right now, more than ever, it’s crucial that nurses not only provide effective care, but also feel secure and comfortable in their careers.
Here are some strategies you can use to manage your stress as a travel nurse.
Making Solid Travel Plans
What sets travel nursing apart from other medical careers is the ability to explore new places and expand your horizons. While this can be exciting for many people, for others it can take an emotional toll if the moving experience is riddled with problems and setbacks. That’s where good planning comes into play.
To avoid stress during moving, you can prepare ahead of time by making housing arrangements well in advance. We have some tips for travel nurses to find the best housing accommodations for temporary assignments.
When it comes time to make the move, make sure everything you need to bring with you is packed and organized. Make a list of documents and belongings that you’ll need, make sure they’re easily accessible, and remember not to overpack!
Reducing Anxiety During Work
During the workday, it can be difficult to get time to yourself to calm down and refocus. Thankfully, there are ways to keep your stress in check even during the busiest of shifts.
While you’re working, you can use deep breathing techniques to slow down an incoming wave of anxiety. You can also use positive self-talk and affirmations to guide yourself through difficult situations. Whenever possible, work together with your fellow nurses. You don’t have to tackle things alone, and teamwork can make a stressful situation much easier to handle.
Lastly, take your breaks! You will work more effectively when you take regular breaks than you will by powering through them, especially on a longer shift. In the same vein, your vacation days are there for a reason. If you find yourself starting to feel burnt out, a few days’ vacation may be just what you need.
Relaxing Outside Of Work
It can be helpful to find activities and hobbies to take your mind off work. Since you’re in a new place, you can take time to sightsee and connect yourself to a new area. You may even discover an activity or hangout spot you had never considered trying before!
Reading and meditation are both good options for quiet days inside. Exercise is also proven to reduce stress, and there are many ways to do it, from yoga to cycling to hiking outdoors.
In general, activities that require focus are more effective at reducing work-related stress than activities that you can do without thinking.
An often-neglected aspect of health is sleep. Good sleep habits don’t just help you feel more alert during waking hours, they can also keep your memory sharp, your immune system strong, and your heart healthy.
Sleep is especially important for nurses who work the night shift. Generally, people are hardwired to sleep at night, which can make it challenging to work during those hours. Healthy sleep habits can reduce the discomfort around working night shifts.
Adults generally need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep. Make sure to set a reliable sleep schedule for yourself and make a space in your home that promotes restful sleep. That means no lights, screens, or major fluctuations in temperature.
To make it easier to fall asleep at the end of the day, limit the amount of caffeine you consume to about one or two cups of coffee (or the equivalent in other caffeinated beverages). Staying hydrated also helps your body sleep easier.
Finding Mental Health Care
Mental health counseling can be an invaluable resource for nurses, especially during times of crisis. Having a professional counselor to guide you, to be a listening ear, and to recommend more ways to manage stress can prevent total burnout.
Nowadays, there are many options for remote or hybrid-remote counseling services. There is a drawback, however: due to US law, mental health practitioners cannot serve clients across state lines. If you move to another state for a new travel assignment, you will have to find a new counselor. Fortunately, many counselors know how to work with clients who travel frequently, work in high-pressure environments, or both. It’s just a matter of finding the right match for your needs.
We hope that these tips help you make the most out of your travel nursing adventures. If you’re interested in starting a travel nursing career, let’s work together and find the right assignment for you.