When you’re on a travel nursing assignment, you’re learning a lot at an incredibly rapid pace. Between learning new procedures, meeting new co-workers, getting used to a new city, and furnishing your apartment, even the most seasoned nurses will feel some stress. There’s no magic cure for keeping stress levels low as a nurse, but there are steps you can take to make sure you can manage your stress levels while on your travel nursing assignment.
If you’ve had a tough shift, or are having difficulties with your new assignment, try opening up to a friend! It’s been proven that being near or talking to a friend lowers your cortisol levels – a chemical that is released while you’re stressed and causes increased heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension.
Friends can make you laugh as well – and as we all know, laughter is the best medicine! Laughter relaxes your body’s muscles, releases endorphins, and even burns a few calories.
Friends help your mental wellbeing as well. When you open up to friends, it fosters psychological intimacy, which makes you feel cared for and safe. Try to build up a support system around yourself at your new assignment, so that you can be open about what you’re struggling with and how to work through it. And you’ll be able to help your friends work through their problems as well, which will help you take your mind off things that are stressing you out.
It’s stressful to come home to a list of “to-do’s” after every nursing shift. But the effects of being unorganized could be trapping you in a negative feedback loop that will continue to spike your stress levels. When you’re in a messy house and putting off getting your things organized, it feels like you’ve lost control.
For one, being unorganized makes you make poor eating decisions. If you come home to a messy apartment, you might be tempted to order take out, instead of washing your dishes and preparing food you picked up from the grocery. But by eating out, you’ll be getting less nutrients and paying more for each of your meals. Being unorganized could be detrimental to your physical and financial health!
It can be hard to take that first step to getting organized. But studies show that being organized improves both your physical and mental health. So next time you have some free time on your travel nursing assignment, spend 30 minutes getting organized! You’ll feel better for it.
Sleep & Exercise
Sleep has been proven to lower stress levels, but when you’re stressed, sleep can become elusive. However, there are a few steps you can take to make sleep a priority and wake up well-rested and de-stressed.
One of the best methods to ensure you’re getting enough sleep is to get into a regular sleep schedule. As a nurse, this can be difficult: you’re working long shifts that make a daily routine hard to maintain. But getting in bed at the same time every night (or every morning, for you night shift nurses out there), avoiding screens before trying to sleep, and reading instead of watching Netflix or browsing Facebook can all work wonders on your sleep patterns.
Exercise is also a great way to de-stress on your assignment. It reduces your cortisol levels, and burns adrenaline that’s remaining in your system after stressful shifts. It also creates endorphins, the body’s feel-good drug.
Exercise can also clear your mind. By getting your heart rate up and focusing on your body’s movement, you’ll distract yourself from things that may be worrying you about work or your new assignment. Call it meditation in motion, with the added bonus of getting in shape!
Mindfulness & Meditation
Sometimes the best way to de-stress is to get out of your own head. Meditation is a great way to regulate your stress levels and become more centered and stable.
If you’ve wanted to try meditation, but don’t know where to start, check out meditation apps. There are many apps to download that can take you through a 5-minute session, or an hour-long session. Many apps offer helpful guided meditations, as well as meditation and thoughtfulness practices related to sleep, happiness, productivity, technology use, and more.
If you’re feeling stressed by your day-to-day routine, try unplugging and hitting the reset switch for a couple days. Put your phone down and take a walk, spend some time reading at home or a café, or get plan a weekend trip to an area you haven’t explored yet! It’s easy to become overwhelmed and lose track of reality when you’re spending too much time on the internet or social media, and you’ll realize how much extra time you have when you’re not getting sucked down the social media black hole.
Interact with Animals
Our last tip for relieving stress is an easy one: spend some time with four-legged friends! Many studies have shown that interacting with animals can make people feel less lonely, fulfill our need for touch and affection, and make us laugh (which as we mentioned earlier is a huge stress reducer). So if you’re feeling stressed, get out there and find a dog to pet, or a cat’s belly to rub!
We hope these tips help whatever stress you’re dealing with. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed with your current nursing assignment and want to give something new a try, click below to take a look at our job board. You can look for your dream job, and even save interesting jobs for later.