As a licensed nurse, you already know firsthand the risks associated with not prioritizing self-care. However, for healthcare professionals on travel nurse contracts, practicing routine holistic wellness is critical. Long shifts, coupled with the opportunity to learn new skills, meet new colleagues, and treat new patients can make it easy for travel nurses to become overly consumed with their professional endeavors.

Not embracing personal time can have negative consequences that extend beyond emotional, spiritual, and mental health, potentially impacting a nurse’s physical functioning. A 2004 study from the Department of Health and Human Services showed that excessively long hours and odd shifts can trigger physical injuries, obesity, chronic illnesses, and even impede overall job performance.

Travel nursing assignments are incredibly rewarding. However, not prioritizing “me time” during your contract gigs can increase your risk of burnout. Here are four ways to make sure you find a healthy work/life balance on your travel nurse contracts.

Find a New Hobby

Many licensed and certified nurses can honestly say that helping patients and practicing compassionate care is their favorite way to spend their time. However, it’s essential to think about other activities that you enjoy beyond nursing, particularly when on a contract. As a travel nurse, you may find yourself spending more time alone than you typically do when in your hometown. Finding a new hobby can help you unwind, clear your mind, and discover new talents during your downtime as you acclimate to your new community. There are countless available apps to help get you started. Unleash your inner Picasso with How to Draw, improve your culinary skills with Big Oven, or learn to a new language using Duolingo. Be adventurous, try something new, and take comfort in the fact that you don’t need to make a full commitment. If you don’t like something, move on to something you may enjoy more.

Make Time for Friends

Travel nurses often develop friendships with their colleagues. These relationships can prove paramount in helping contract healthcare professionals adjust to their new environment. However, it’s important to spend time with people you enjoy outside of work as well. Carving out time after hours with friends, family, and even co-workers is a vital self-care practice that can increase enjoyment and fulfillment when not on the clock.

See the Sights

Chances are (at least on some levels) you choose your assignment based on location. Don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in everything your new city or town has to offer during your days off. Before you arrive on assignment, research local attractions, cultural events, restaurants, and community gatherings that make your home away from home unique. Apps like Spotted By Locals and Musement can give you insider tips on everything you’ll want to include on your must-see checklist to ensure you’re ready to experience everything your contract city has to offer during your downtime.

Consider Your Personal Self-Care Needs

Of course, there’s no-one-size-fits-all self-care approach that will work for everyone. When developing a plan for how to spend free time on assignments, it’s crucial to consider your own personality type. Extroverts tend to recharge being around other people, while introverts may prefer quieter activities or alone time to feel rejuvenated after a long shift. Knowing what works best for you can help calibrate a healthy balance for holistic wellness with faster, sustainable results.

How do you prioritize self-care wellness when you’re not working your current travel nurse contract? Leave your favorite tips and suggestions in the comments below! Or, contact ARMStaffing to learn more about current jobs and leading travel nursing markets.

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