6 Tips for Staying Healthy and Safe While Working as a Travel Nurse

Travel nursing is a fun and exciting way for those with a love of travel to see the country while still using their medical skills to earn an excellent salary. But travel nurse jobs also present some potential hazards and pitfalls that newbies may not be prepared for. However, staying healthy and safe is relatively easy for intelligent, skilled professionals like travel nurses. Here are six tips for those enjoying this unique field. 

1. Get Enough Sleep

One of the most important but simple ways to stay healthy is to ensure you’re getting the proper amount of sleep. These crucial hours of downtime allow our bodies and minds to heal and refresh in myriad ways that affect nearly everything we do. For most adults, this means getting seven or more hours, according to the Mayo Clinic, though each of us has our own needs and rhythms. 

Not only is the amount of sleep vital, but also consistency, or at least as much as possible, with the demands of shifting nurse schedules. Those struggling to get enough sleep should try limiting electronic device use before bedtime, cutting back on caffeine later in the day, or experimenting with sleep aids like melatonin. 

2. Exercise

Our bodies are meant to be used, and all sorts of unpleasant effects can result when we don’t exercise adequately. Lack of exercise can lead to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, or even mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity each week, combined with two days where you work to strengthen muscles. That’s the equivalent of 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The key is finding the exercise that works for your lifestyle and interests. Some like to run or hike, while others prefer biking, rowing, sports, or any number of other choices. There’s no wrong answer as long as it consistently gets you moving.

3. Maintain a Healthy Diet

With high-stress jobs with irregular hours (like nursing), eating healthy can feel challenging, especially when fast food and frozen meals are so easy to grab. Still, nurses can’t forget food is your body’s fuel, and low-quality inputs lead to low-quality results. Try to ensure you’re eating a sufficient mix of the right kind of proteins, carbs, and fats, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. If necessary, you can also help along your diet with vitamins or supplements to fill in any gaps. It’s also essential to ensure you eat the right amount on both ends of the spectrum. While overeating can lead to weight gain and the issues that come with it, eating too little (often because of stress or schedule issues) can lead to serious health problems of its own. 

4. Practice Self-Care

Self-care means different things to different people, but at the end of the day, it’s about being deliberate in working to maintain and improve your physical and mental health alike. For some, this can mean daily meditation or journaling. Others may splurge with some binge-watching or shopping. Don’t forget the physical aspect, like a hot bath or a massage to soothe sore muscles. While it’s important not to indulge too much, a proper self-care regimen is critical to thriving in a high-stress, high-stakes job like travel nursing. 

5. Learn about Your New Home

Whether you’re working in a big city or a rural small town, it’s crucial to educate yourself on the location to stay safe. Most parts of the country have some areas or elements of risk, whether it’s from crime, weather, or other factors. Do some research before your arrival to figure out where these are, which you can confirm and supplement by talking to locals once you arrive. Simple awareness can go a long way toward avoiding many common issues that can affect new arrivals to various places. 

6. Know Your Limits

To be sure, travel nursing is exciting! Nurses frequently find themselves in new places, meeting new people, and experiencing new things. This can be fun for a while, but overdoing it can leave you feeling run down and even impact your health. So even if it’s tempting to want to explore the entirety of your new temporary home right away, knowing your limits ensures you’ll continue to handle job responsibilities as necessary and stay refreshed and engaged for future exploration. Don’t worry if you can’t see and do it all. The beauty of travel nursing is that it often allows you to extend your stay with another contract or simply lets you take some time off to do some more recreational traveling. 

It’s Easy to Stay Safe and Healthy While Travel Nursing

While there’s no doubt travel nursing presents some special challenges, they pale compared to the incredible benefits of this exciting field. With simple and rewarding habits like getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising, you’ll put yourself in a position to make the most of your professional and personal lives. Keep these tips in mind, and there’s no telling where travel nursing can take you in the future.