How to Stay Healthy & Active as a Travel Nurse
The duties of travel nursing can make it hard to find time to take care of yourself. The rigors of traveling from one hospital to the next and focusing your attention on taking care of others makes it easy to forget this simple fact: in order to help people stay healthy, you have to be healthy, too. Maintaining your own well-being is vital in order to be able to help anyone else; if you’re sick, lacking energy, or distracted, how much use can you truly be?
The good news is that there are little things you can do each day to help you stay healthy – both physically and mentally – while still being an active travel nurse.
Stay active. Finding the time to exercise can be impossible with a heavy work load, but staying active can help increase your energy levels and helps to keep your muscles toned and your body trimmed. Small things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking briskly through the facility while on breaks, or parking a little further away add up and can provide the necessary exercise to help you stay in shape. Simple stretches before starting work can help you to loosen up and make you feel more alert -helping you to avoid sugary drinks or too much caffeine to maintain energy levels and concentration.
Avoid the vending machines. Sure, they’re an easy way to get a quick snack, but those quick snacks are full of empty calories that only leave you feeling hungry and more likely to keep eating. Instead, choose your snacks and meals carefully to keep you feeling fuller longer and provide you the energy you need to do your job. Choose foods that pair protein (which helps you to feel full and provide lasting energy) with natural sugars (as are found in fruits and vegetables.) These types of foods, like Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts, have an added benefit of keeping your blood sugar stable which helps keep your energy levels high and avoids that “crashing” feeling that comes with sugary snacks and drinks.
Carry a water bottle. Often times when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually misinterpreting our body’s thirst signals. Most people already don’t drink enough water and with the busy day or night of the typical travel nurse, it’s likely that you’re not drinking nearly as much as your body needs. To figure out how much water you need each day, take your weight and divide that number by two. That is how many ounces of water you need to drink each day (e.g. if you weigh 200 pounds you need to drink 100 ounces of water each day.) Women’s bodies have a tendency to store water when you don’t drink enough, which causes you to gain extra weight. So, in drinking enough water, not only will you be helping your body to flush out toxins and stay properly hydrated, but you will likely see some weight loss.
Practice mindfulness. This can be as simple as taking a few moments to relax, emptying your mind, allowing your body and mind to calm and stress to be released. Doing this just a few minutes each day has been shown to provide reduced levels of stress which can reduce your risk of stress induced health problems and chronic pain. This is something you can do on your breaks, with just ten minutes a day shown to have a significant benefit.
Make sure you get enough sleep. This can often be very difficult, yet it is one of the most important things you can do to keep your mind and body healthy. You need several hours of uninterrupted sleep in order to achieve REM cycle sleep, where your brain produces theta waves. This theta state is when your body does the most repair and your mind enters a state of deep relaxation. This allows you to physically and mentally release stress and wake feeling fully rested and better able to tackle the challenges of your day.
Following these tips can help you stay active and healthy as a travel nurse. After all, the more happy and healthy you are, the better you can help your patients get healthier, too. Remember to take time for yourself in order to be at your best for others.