Let’s face it, nurses work hard. Harder than most people who don’t have a background in healthcare can comprehend. The term “burnout” is very commonly thrown around the nursing profession. 12 hour shifts are full of balancing patient needs, increased work loads, and sometimes scary or traumatizing care scenarios can wear on a person. There are several important steps you can take as a travel healthcare professional to preserve your mental health and avoid nursing burnout.
Incorporate Self Care
It seems obvious, but it can be much easier said than done. Take care of yourself! On your days off and on, make sure you’re getting an adequate amount of sleep. Sleep deprivation can have severe effects on your overall mental health and work performance. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly can help reduce symptoms of depression, help with stress relief, and give you more energy on a regular basis. While you should always prioritize self care, don’t forget to treat yourself too. If that means curling up on the couch and binge watching some Netflix, do it! If that means going out and exploring a new city or going on a hike, do it! Whatever your idea of treating yourself is, make sure you incorporate things that make you happy while you’re on assignment.
Set Personal and Professional Boundaries
Drawing a line in the sand between your personal life and work life can be difficult. In other words, don’t bring work home with you. As a nurse, understanding and recognizing when you are stressed or overwhelmed is absolutely imperative to prevent burn out. Failing to learn how to manage your work-related stress can lead to compassion fatigue, emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion, and other health issues. Remember, patient care is just as important as self care. Make a point to take breaks during your shift, even if it’s just dipping into the bathroom for 5 minutes to take a breather. Understanding how to cope with the emotions and stress that come with being a nurse will help you live a healthier and happier life.
Have a Good Support System
When you’re traveling to a new city every three months or so, it can be hard to establish a good support system. Keep in touch with your closest family and friends on a regular basis, connect with other travel nurses early on in your assignments, and lean on them when you need to. Not having other people there to support you when you need it can be incredibly isolating and lonely. If you find yourself struggling more than usual, utilizing mental health services can be useful. Websites such as BetterHelp or Talkspace offer therapy and counseling services 24/7 right from your phone. They accept most major insurance providers, and are relatively inexpensive. It’s a great resource, especially if you’re on the road traveling from assignment to assignment and may not have access to traditional services.
Nursing burnout is a serious issue in the healthcare field. Learning healthy coping mechanisms and how to properly express your emotions can make a world of difference in your career as a nurse. Preventing burnout can be as simple as taking a break during your shift to decompress, or getting out of the house and exploring your new city. Whatever your idea of self care is, always prioritize your mental health and well-being.
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