Nursing can be a very demanding job, and clinicians often struggle with taking the stress of work home with them. This can lead to a cycle of overwhelm, which affects many nurses, especially during the pandemic. Establishing a healthy work-life balance is crucial for travel nurses because it can help relieve emotional and mental strain and feelings of burnout. There are a handful of small changes you can incorporate into your day-to-day routine to improve work-life balance and achieve clarity in all aspects of your life.
Establish a Daily Wake-Up Routine
The life of a travel nurse is filled with uncertainty, and just a dash of occasional chaos. Let’s just say that “stability” takes on a different meaning while moving from place to place and constantly changing contracts. A simple wake-up routine can help establish a feeling of control and steadiness, which can be highly beneficial in a job where no day is the same. Studies show that both your mental and physical health can benefit from establishing a consistent morning routine, which you can personalize to fit your needs. This can be anything from slowly drinking a glass of water when you wake up to 10 minutes of meditation, or even a brisk 15-minute walk outside. These short moments with yourself will help you to mentally prepare to take on the day ahead.
Go on a Social Media Cleanse
Taking social media breaks can be a healthy practice for anyone living in the 21st century, but it is especially important for travel nurses. Many of us use our break time at work to scroll Instagram or Twitter to escape reality for a little while. But between juggling patient care and trying to figure out your next contract, social media can add stresses of comparison and unnecessary pressure to the mix. A little break from social media can inspire more personal social engagement, increase productivity in the moments you have to yourself (lunch break included), and improves sleep because this means less blue light intake from your phone/laptop. Instead of scrolling TikTok before bed, try listening to a podcast.
Budget Time to Try Something New
Stepping outside of your comfort zone every once in a while is a great way to quickly break out of a mental rut. On your next day off, schedule a rock-climbing class, a painting workshop, or finally check out that local trivia night you’ve been wanting to try. Studies show that trying new things essentially acts as a workout for your brain and can improve processing and sharpness. Not to mention that you might find your new favorite hobby along the way. Making sure you are using your free time to learn new skills and better yourself is a fantastic way to enhance work-life balance.
Set Healthy Boundaries
We are all familiar with the phenomena of “bringing work home.” The amount of emotional energy nurses give to their patients daily is staggering, which makes it extremely difficult to “turn off” the work brain when it’s time to come home. To foster a healthy separation of work and home, try listening to a guided meditation in the car after your shift that can help quell any lingering anxieties and quiet the racing mind. Any practice to pair a mental transition from work to home with the physical act of going from work to home will help build a cognitive boundary between the two. Journaling is another great practice to move past worries about work and leave them on the page.