Travel nursing is a wonderful way for healthcare professionals to see the world, experience new environments, and advance their careers. Nurses who choose to travel are generally very flexible personalities, people who love adventure and new experiences, and are willing to take risks and face challenges. But even the most enthusiastic and resilient nurses can feel fatigued from the stress of their assignments.
Nurses have faced a challenging work environment in the last few years, to say the least, with understaffed hospitals, the intensity of the pandemic, and the general stress of working in a highly specialized field. Burnout can impact travel nurses at a much more rapid rate because they are constantly learning new environments, detached from their regular community, and possibly spending their off time alone or isolated. The best way to battle fatigue and burnout as a travel nurse is to take a proactive approach and care for yourself throughout your tenure at a hospital or healthcare facility.
Take care of your basic needs first.
You cannot take care of yourself well without taking care of your most basic needs: rest, nutrition, and exercise. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep (even if you work a night shift) and keep a regular sleep schedule. A consistent routine will act as an anchor for your body as you explore a new environment.
Make sure to drink enough water and eat food that fuels your body. When you first arrive on your travel nurse assignments, find a grocery store and determine some meals you can easily cook in your temporary residence. Choose healthy fats, proteins, and lots of fruits and vegetables to give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive.
Exercise may look different depending on your location. You could try out a gym or exercise classes if that’s your preference, or you can work out at your residence. Since you’ll be in a new city, walking or running will allow you to kill two birds with one stone—you’ll be exercising while you explore your new city.
Don’t neglect your social needs.
It’s easy to forget that socialization—time spent with other people—is a critical part of overall health. We need to be in contact with others to be healthy; too much alone time is problematic and can increase feelings of burnout. If you’re working in a location where you are far from friends and family, it can be challenging to find a way to connect with others. Use technology to your advantage, FaceTime your friends and family, send voice memos, and keep up with people via text message. It’s not the same as an in-person connection, but it’s important to maintain your relationships even while you are away. Staying connected to others will help reduce fatigue because you will have a place to vent about your frustrations, share any concerns or stressors you have, and celebrate the good things happening in your life.
Practice stress management.
Go into your nursing assignments with a plan for stress management. In addition to covering the basics of care (like food, rest, and exercise), you need proactive strategies to manage stress. If you struggle with stress management, consider getting a counselor with whom you can schedule video sessions, no matter your location. Counselors can help you identify the best stress management techniques for your situation. You can also manage stress through breathing exercises, meditation, and physical activity.
Stay connected with the nursing community.
Nursing is a challenging and taxing line of work that requires mental, physical, and emotional energy. Connecting with other nurses in your community can help mitigate the stress of the job and give you a place to vent about workplace challenges. It is a great outlet to manage workplace stress, whether you connect with other nurses via an online portal, with a group of nurses at your hospital, or with others in your travel nurse agency.
Know your limits.
Remember that you don’t have to fill every available assignment or travel nursing job, and you can choose assignments that suit your lifestyle. If you tend to burn out after a few weeks, don’t sign on for an 8-week travel nurse assignment. Choose a short travel nurse assignment so that you can thrive. If you prefer to feel settled in your new location, consider a long-term travel nurse assignment so that you can get to know your new location. Learn which assignments are best for you, and move from there.
Travel nurses need proactive strategies to manage the stress of their work. Use these five tips to battle fatigue so that you can thrive in your role. Check out our job board for available travel nurse jobs!