Travel nurse is one of the most exciting and rewarding jobs in healthcare. It allows nurses to not only ply their trade and help people but also see the country and even the world.
Still, as with any high-stress industry filled with dedicated people, medical professionals can have a tough time striking a good balance between their work and personal lives. And living and working in new places constantly can add to the difficulty, too. That’s why we’re breaking down a few of the best tips for maintaining a work-life balance when working as a travel nurse.
1. Take Care of Yourself – Physically and Mentally
Nursing is about caring for patients, but the one person many forget to care for is themselves! This applies to both physical and mental health, which are equally important in high-stress roles with long hours.
From a physical perspective, make sure you’re getting enough sleep, ideally six to eight hours per night, and that it’s good quality rest. Eating right is also critical. This includes the right mix of macro and micronutrients and vitamins, along with eating regularly and in the proper amounts. Finally, perhaps nothing is more vital physically than getting exercise, which can be as helpful mentally as it is physically. Hiking, biking, or even a simple walk around your town or neighborhood are perfect ways to pair exploring your new home with physical activity and meet new people as well.
Mental health care is just as important. Spend time with people you love if you can, or keep up via phone, social media, or video chat if your work takes you too far away. Practice healthy self-care that works for you, whether a relaxing bath or an evening binging your favorite TV show. It’s also important to be able to disconnect from work as much as you can when you can.
2. Set Boundaries with Work
All too often, dedication to work can lead to checking emails, answering calls, or putting in excessive (or even unpaid) work outside normal shifts. That’s why setting boundaries is one of the most vital parts of travel nursing or any other career.
While nurses may have unique responsibilities, time off the clock should be just that. This can be difficult for those who are extremely passionate about their work, but it ensures you spend your time developing a healthy life outside work. That way, you have a healthy and happy life to fall back on if you have a bad day or something goes wrong at work.
3. Focus on the Positives
In fields like nursing and medicine, it’s unavoidable that you’ll see upsetting things, sometimes regularly. It’s understandable to feel a bit down, but focusing on the positive impact you’re making in your work is critical. Every day, you’re making a difference, something that’s vital to remember. Developing a gratefulness practice can be helpful here. Simply write down one or more things you’re grateful for each day. Over time, simply devoting more deliberate attention to the good things in your life tends to raise many people’s happiness levels. It’s also important to think about unique positives in the travel nurse life as well, like the opportunities presented by being able to travel and work at the same time.
4. Make the Most of Your New Home
Plenty of people would do anything for the chance to travel while keeping their career. Travel nurses are lucky in this respect and should take advantage of this as much as possible. Make the extra effort to learn about your new home, see the top attractions, try the regional foods, and experience other elements of local life. This may include everything from national parks or amazing beaches to incredible, one-of-a-kind museums to other nearby cities with unique communities of their own.
Chances are you’ll fall in love with each unique location as you get to know the country on a more intimate level. While it can certainly get a bit exhausting at moments, the memories will be more than worth it in the years to come.
5. Stay Happy on the Job and at Home with a Good Work-Life Balance
While it can be tempting for new and experienced travel nurses alike to pour themselves too heavily into their work, it’s not a sustainable lifestyle in the long run. In reality, the best nurses are the ones who take care of their work-life balance as diligently as they take care of their patients. Doing so will leave you more alert and engaged while on the job and happier and more fulfilled in your time off. By remembering this simple but vital principle, it’s easy to make the most of the exciting, meaningful, and lucrative career that travel nurse can provide.