Think Healthy Mind and Body

Travel nursing is high on the list of nursing careers. Like any other nursing jobs it can be stressful and take a tole on your mind and body. One of the many challenges can be staying healthy while on the road. As we come to the end of the year and into the holidays we should keep in mind ways to stay healthy.

If you have been able to develop a healthy lifestyle, then staying healthy while traveling should be no problem. If you have put off creating healthy habits, then travel nursing may be a great opportunity to get started. Spend the time to research and make a plan to learn to manage stress, exercise and eat healthy while on the road.

Let’s Talk Body

I found one of the best ways to handle stress is to exercise. If you have an exercise routine, then find a local gym. If you use a gym use one with a nationwide franchise to save the initiation fee each time you move. Another way is find housing options which have gym facilities on the property for the tenants.

If you don’t have a gym membership then look for deals using Groupon or Living Social to see about getting a discounted monthly membership to a group fitness gym. If you don’t have a fitness plan then using group fitness is a good way to get started. This is a good way to meet people and enlist help with using the equipment and not get lost in the weight room.

I think the best way to get in shape and stay in shape is to travel to a state such as Colorado, California or Florida where there is plenty of outdoor opportunity to get exercise. Going to parks where you can go hiking for free or bike riding on trails is an option. If biking is your thing many towns now have bike lanes making it easy to commute on your bike to and from your job. The bottom line is to make exercise a normal activity in your life. Find something that you enjoy doing and stick to it.

Now for Keeping Your Mind Healthy

Everything about travel nursing can be stressful. Things like moving to a new city, starting a new job and being alone are all very stressful situations and when they all happen at the same time you are increasing the odds of a mental breakdown. The key to becoming a successful travel nurse, or any nurse for that matter is to find ways to lessen the pressure. I have found that having a game plan with lots of planning is best for new and seasoned travelers. Here are some tips to make your travels a little less stressful:

  • Ask friends and family to come and visit at different times.
  • Find out what tourist sites are in the area and plan times to do some site seeing.
  • Get a Netflix or Amazon account so you don’t have to set up cable service every time you move. Plan for movie nites or catch up on TV series that you may have missed.
  • Make friends with fellow travelers, get contact information and schedule trips to explore the city.
  • When all else fails schedule extra shifts,  never hurts to make extra money.  Keep telling yourself you are only there for 3 months,
  • Make sure to write down all of the needed codes, passwords and contact numbers for personnel you have to interact with.
  • Ask questions when you don’t have information you need.  Be flexible and know youu may need to float to other units.
  • Patient care is the same anywhere you go.  The thing to remember is figuring out the equipment and knowing where things are  will make your job less stressful.
  • Take time out if needed to take some deep breaths and refresh your mind.  Find what works to destress and relax at the end of your shifts.

Eating Healthy

Stress management and exercise are part of a healthy lifestyle, however nutrition, is of utmost importance. The food you eat affects your energy level, your mood, and how well you perform at work.  Eating healthy while on the road is probably the most challenging lifestyle habit to change. Here are some suggestions:

  • Cooking at home is healthier and it saves you money as well. Cook enough food to get you through several days of work. Once you finish all your leftovers, then cook enough food to get you through your days off. Try using an instant pot.  Fast and easy and great if you are in an RV.
  • Take your lunch to work and include snacks to cover the 12 hour shift.  Letting yourself get hungry only increases the likely hood you will head for the fast food and junk food. Not only is this habit not good for you but it is also costly.
  • Keep eating out to a maximum of twice a week. Eating at restaurants is expensive and the portion sizes are much larger.
  • If you decide to meet friends for drinks, eat before you go.  Social meet ups can be expensive and are not good for your health if you over do it.  Drinking your calories is never recommended.
  • Make sure to eat your fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Eat plenty of high quality food  that leave you feeling fuller longer and does wonders for your waistline and energy level.

I would say the main thing to get from these tips is travel nursing provides you with a unique opportunity to get to know more about yourself. As traveler you will have found an opportunity to begin a healthy lifestyle and found ways to maintain it while on the road.  Take this quality time with yourself to practice what you preach and fine tune your own healthy lifestyle, you will be thankful you did.

Cheryl Roby, RN

Cheryl J. Roby is a retired RN and US Army Nurse Major. She has over 30 years of nursing experience and 26 years of military experience in the Army Nurse Corp. During her nursing career she has traveled as part of her military experience visiting many of the 50 states and once to South Korea. Her medical training began during the Vietnam era when trained as an army medic. She went on to train as an OR tech and then as a LVN/LPN. She completed nursing school and was direct commissioned into the reserve Army Nurse Corp. nurse. She appreciated the challenge of working in various specialties and expanding her clinical and professional skill sets. Her time in the Army Reserves and California National Guard gave her the opportunity to travel to most of the 50 states and working in other medical facilities. During her career she spent years as an OR nurse, Occupational Health Nurse, Hospice Nurse, Forensic Nurse, Nurse Case Manager for developmental disabilities, Parish Nursing as well as being a Nurse Entrepreneur.
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