Travel Nursing

15 Healthy Habits for Travel Nurses

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is always an important goal to keep in mind, even when traveling on assignments. Travel nurses might often find themselves out of their normal routine and struggling to live a healthy lifestyle. However, even when your routine gets a little out of order, it can still be easy to practice healthy living. Here is our list of 15 healthy habits that are perfect for travel nurses on an assignment.  

Start every day with a glass of water

An easy habit to incorporate into your routine is to start each day with a glass of water. You can even mix it up and add some lemon, Emergen-C, or collagen for added health benefits and flavor. Although your favorite latte from Starbucks may be tasty, water will serve as a greater advantage in the long run. Staying hydrated will not only keep you energized, but it will also help you stay focused throughout a long shift.  

Stay active

Exercise is one of the most important ways to keep your body healthy. Find a local gym to join and ask about their short-term membership options. If the gym isn’t your thing, you can still find alternative ways to stay active. Maybe you’re on assignment in Florida and can take up swimming or jogging. Are you on assignment in Colorado? Lace up your hiking boots and go explore the mountains!  

To ensure you stick with a workout plan, it’s important to make a routine that is doable and achievable for you. Don’t plan to work out for two hours a day five days a week when you’re just starting out. Instead, try incorporating workouts into your everyday life, such as doing yoga at home or going for walks near the place you’re staying at on your assignment. Wherever you are, find ways to make working out fun. Your body will thank you for it in the long run. 

Eat healthy

Although it’s convenient, skip the fast food and try not to eat out too often. You will not only save calories when you do this, but you will save money too. You may still want to try new restaurants to experience the local cuisine, and that’s okay! It’s all about moderation. Plan to eat out every once in a while, but try to pick a lighter option on the menu or substitute healthier side dishes. 

 When you arrive at your new destination, look up the nearest grocery stores and do some shopping. Cook fresh dinners at home and prep protein packed lunches for the next day. Eating healthy will help you feel less bloated and lethargic, and more energized. You can also pack some healthy and easy snacks to bring to shifts, such as nuts, meat or cheese sticks, berries, protein bars, and yogurt.  

Get enough sleep

As a nurse working long shifts, getting adequate sleep is easier said than done. Adults need an average of eight hours of sleep each night to give your body enough time to recharge from the previous day. 

Try sticking to the same sleep schedule every day to keep your body’s internal clock balanced. You can also create a calming bedtime ritual to help your body wind down by avoiding electronics before bed. The bright lights from the screens of our electronic devices activate the brain and can make it more difficult to fall asleep. A great alternative to scrolling on your phone before bed is reading a book or writing in a journal. 

Having trouble falling asleep in an unfamiliar place? Consider using a white noise machine, blackout curtains, a sleep mask for your eyes, or a humidifier. You will wake up the next day feeling energized, refreshed, and ready to give your patients the best care possible! 

Make mental health a priority

Practicing self-care is one of the most important ways to combat stress and burnout. Every individual will have their own techniques to help reduce stress, but some popular methods include meditation (try using an app like Calm), regular exercise, journaling, talking to a loved one, or listening to music. 

Nurses who often find themselves in stressful situations during shifts and need a licensed professional to talk to should consider getting a therapist. Working in healthcare can take a toll on people’s emotions, so it’s important to know that help is available.  

Whatever method you choose, make sure to give yourself plenty of ‘me-time’ so you can recharge for the next day and avoid feeling overwhelmed. You can’t take care of those around you if you don’t take care of yourself first, so don’t overlook the importance of your mental health. 

Reduce stress levels

 While completely ridding stress from your life is not entirely possible, there are techniques and supplements that can help. Meditation and aroma therapy are great ways to put your mind at ease and minimize stress. You could also consider taking supplements such as ashwagandha and L-Theanine to reduce cortisol levels. You might not notice a difference at first, but if you continuously stay on top of taking them, you’ll notice a difference in no time. Stress is hard on our bodies, so try to implement these techniques and supplements into your life to stay healthier and calmer.  

Take multivitamins and probiotics

An easy way to improve your health when on travel assignments is to take multivitamins and probiotics. Boost your immunity and get all the nutrients you need by taking just a few multivitamins. An added benefit is that most of them taste good too! Popular brands for multivitamins are Olly, Nature Made, and Balance of Nature.  

 Probiotic sodas have also recently become increasingly popular and are great for gut health. Popular probiotic and prebiotic sodas are Olipop, Poppi, and Culture Pop Soda. With many flavor options to choose from, you’re guaranteed to find a probiotic soda that you’ll love. Everywhere from Cherry Limeade to Vintage Cola, there’s bound to be a flavor you’ll enjoy. 

Maintain a good work-life balance

We all know that it can be difficult at times to maintain a good work-life balance when working in healthcare. However, it is imperative to prioritize your life outside of work. When on an assignment, take some time to yourself and explore the new area you’re staying in. While you’re out on your adventures, try to mingle and meet people while on your travel assignment.  

Spend time doing things you love when you’re off the clock. Take time to enjoy your hobbies or even pick up new hobbies when on an assignment. Being in a new environment can inspire you to do new things, so give it a try! Hiking, painting, thrifting, and collecting are all great new hobby ideas that can keep you entertained and busy when you’re not working a shift. 

Stay connected to family and friends

Just because you might not be in the same state or city as your family and friends when you’re on a travel assignment, there are many other ways that you can stay connected to them. Give your loved ones a call, text them, or even facetime them frequently. If your travel assignment is several weeks or months long, you can even try to see them in person for a quick visit. Try to arrange a weekend or anytime that works for everyone so that you can enjoy some quality time together when you’re away on an assignment.  

Have a self-care day  

Taking a whole day to yourself to focus on self-care is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health. Take an everything shower, make or order your favorite food, put on a face mask, light a candle, read your favorite book, or watch your favorite show. You’ll thank yourself later for dedicating a day to relaxing and focusing on yourself. This can also greatly help with stress and can reduce feelings of burnout, which is always an added benefit.  

Write in a journal

Sometimes after a long shift, you just need to talk through everything you just saw and worked with all day long. Journaling is a great outlet for when you want to get all your thoughts out. This will help you decompress and feel more in control of your day. Having a journal you find to be aesthetically pleasing is also beneficial because it will make you want to write in it more. You can find great looking journals for a good price at stores like T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, Target, and more.  

Reduce screen time

Constantly staring at a screen can be harmful to your eyes and brain. Try setting down your phone and reading instead. Puzzling, crafting, chatting with friends, going on a walk, and cooking or baking are also all good ways to reduce screen time and be more active. This isn’t to say that you can never be on your phone or watch television, these are just some alternatives that can help mix up your routine in a healthier way.  

Stay hygienic

Working as a travel nurse means you’re probably on the go most of the time. Don’t forget to always travel with hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and a mask to ensure you encounter as few germs as possible. While this may seem obvious, it’s important to always wash your hands when out in public, at home, working a shift, or whenever you come in contact with a germ contaminated item.  

Get some fresh air

Getting fresh air is always nice when you feel cooped up or just need to get outside. Go on a walk outside, hang out at a park, or even just step outside for a second to connect with nature. You might not think this can make an impact on your health, but studies have shown that being outside actually boosts your mood and helps you feel more focused.  

Keep a clean space

Maintaining a clean living space is one of the best ways to keep you feeling accomplished, in order, and put together. Coming home to a clean space after a long shift will immediately make you feel better and more relaxed. We recommend dedicating one day of the week as a reset day to do all your cleaning. On this day, you can restock your fridge, clean your living space, clean your bedding, do some laundry, and wind down to prepare for the week ahead of you.  

Maintaining your health when on travel assignments is crucial to being able to show up to your shifts energized and in a positive mindset. When you feel your best, your patients will receive the best care. We hope you take up these healthy habits when on a travel nurse assignment, and just in everyday life!

The information in this blog is for general informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult a qualified healthcare provider for personalized guidance. The authors and publishers are not liable for errors or omissions, and reliance on the content is at your own risk.