For many of us, we are now rolling into week five of the COVID-19 pandemic here in Canada. This has been a very bizarre time, collectively, for us all. Especially our Travel Nurses and Healthcare Professionals who are putting themselves on the front-line, day in and day out, providing ongoing support to their local hospital or traveling on contract to communities that require an extra hand.
Our team here at TravelNurse Canada felt called to share some healthy habits to help you along your journey while working through this pandemic. As we understand that the job of a nurse is both physically and mentally challenging, we want to help reduce the stress load that can come with your profession. So, sit back, relax, grab your favorite drink of choice and take a moment to see if any of these tips can help you improve your day to day routine that may have been compromised over the last four to five weeks. And if you have any suggestions to add to the list, we would love to hear back from you – as we value your opinion greatly!
Practice Daily Gratitude
Each day, once you wake up, express 3-5 areas in your life that you are grateful for. It can be as simple as, “I am grateful for the sunshine” or “I am grateful to have a job caring for others” – practicing gratitude has been shown to benefit our lives in many ways such as reduce stress, improve sleep, boost your mental health, improve relationships and overall well-being. Many enjoy writing down the things they are grateful for in a journal, on sticky notes or why not directly on your mirror each morning with a dry erase marker? Practicing gratitude helps set the tone for your day, putting your best face forward for not only you, but your patients as well.
Eating Healthy on Long Shifts
It isn’t easy packing and preparing food for a long, 12-hour shift. We understand that! Especially, when many of our Travel Nurses have arrived in smaller communities with limited resources. But that doesn’t mean we can allow for poor eating habits. We recommend focusing on healthy, whole food options, avoiding sugary snacks and processed food items. Emphasize adding as many vegetables as you can into each of your meals, keeping your immune system happy. And when you are not on shift, take some time to cook up a new healthy recipe from Pinterest (or one of the thousands of amazing food bloggers out there), as it can be meditative plus the result is a delicious meal. You can also cook larger portions to meal prep for your shifts ahead, this will help ensure you have a great packed lunch and snacks to bring with you on while on shift. You may even spark up some recipe conversation in the break room, allowing for some relief during your day. And I am certain you will not be disappointed in yourself and your tasty new creations!
Find a Fitness Routine that Works for You
It is not easy being a nurse and adding in exercise at the same time. You work long hours and typically have a commute to/from work on top of that. However, finding a routine that works for you while working will benefit your overall well-being. A fitness routine can be whatever you like it to be. I find success in creating a routine when you find something you can enjoy. There is also a bit more motivation when you are heading to do a workout you like. For me, taking long walks or runs in nature helps me let go of the day. Moving around in the fresh air, really helps reduce our stress load and increase endorphins. And if you have had a long day and your energy is lacking, do some stretching or restorative yoga. There are many YouTube and Apps available to help guide you through mindful movements.
And remember rest is just as important so don’t plan to have all fitness activities on your days off. You deserve some relaxation as well!
Unplug Before Bedtime
Getting adequate sleep is critical to your well-being. You want to ensure you are getting a minimum of 7-9 hours of rest to ensure you are operating at your highest level. A few habits you can follow to increase your ability to fall asleep are to limit your screen time at least 1-2 hours before you plan to go to bed. Turn off that series or movie you are watching and avoid falling asleep with your TV or Laptop on. It is proven that avoiding the stimulations and blue light from your smartphones, laptops, and TVs before bedtime can help improve your sleep drastically – we want to ensure our melatonin production is not affected, allowing you to have a deep sleep. A trick I find very useful is unplugging our wifi at night as I am winding down, making it easier to stay off my devices. This will help you clear your mind and ease into a restful sleep.
Find Someone You Can Vent To
You heard that right, we all need to vent – to let go of a hard day, sometimes the best medicine is just letting go of it by confiding in a confidant. Some days are more challenging than others and having a resource or friend who can relate can help you de-stress. Here at Travel Nurse Canada, we have a 24/7 Clinical Resource Team that is available to you while on contract. If you ever feel there is a time outside of our office hours that you need assistance, we are always there, to support you through any challenges that present, to help you debrief. We want to ensure you can go back to feeling confident, ready to take on the remainder of your shift or contract. Because let’s face it, you are meant to have some fun as well while on shift or contract, so let us help you make that happen!
Because physical human connection is currently off the table, it is important to stay connected to your loved ones, both family and friends. Especially, while you are away from home and on an assignment in a different community.
We want to avoid the feeling of being isolated and alone. Set up regular times to connect with the ones that help lift your spirits – whether that be via Zoom, FaceTime, Houseparty, or Facebook. You can now even watch a movie together with friends via Netflix Party, why not select a comedy and share some laughs until we can join up again at the movie theatres. Don’t be afraid to change up the ways you stay connected either, order someone a gift to be delivered for their birthday, write a letter to have mailed off, send voice messages instead of texts, host a live stream baking session, or host a happy hour online after work for you and your colleagues. Get creative and make it fun – keep the conversations light and alive. Why not go into your virtual “hangouts” with a few fun, conversation changers outside of the current situation?
And remember #workationwarriors, “This too, shall pass.” Before we know it, we will be on the other side of this, and TravelNurse Canada will be there with you. Your well-being is of the utmost importance to us, and we hope you are finding moments of calmness amidst the chaos. We hope one or more of these tools speak to you. You do not need to implement everything all at once, bring one or more into your life that aligns with you, your schedule, and your needs. Take a DEEP breath, let it out, and remember to smile!
Written by Client Services Manager, Brianne Nikula.
Brianne is a long-standing employee at Travel Nurse Canada and has a passion for mindfulness and healthy daily habits to ensure we are operating at our optimal health. She hopes some or all these tips have helped you through your travel contract, workweek, or just your day to day routine.