If you already have a healthy lifestyle, then staying healthy while traveling will be a snap. If you are someone who hasn’t found the time to acquire healthy habits, then travel nursing is the perfect opportunity to do so. With careful planning and research all travel nurses can learn to manage stress, exercise and eat healthy while on the road.
Moving to a new city, starting a new job and being alone are all very stressful situations, especially when they all happen at the same time. Avoiding a mental breakdown is key to becoming a successful travel nurse, or any nurse for that matter. My best advice to new and seasoned travelers is to plan, plan, plan, and prepare yourself for occasional boredom. Before starting a new travel assignment I highly suggest you:
Exercise by itself is a great way to manage stress. If you already have an exercise routine, then researching local gyms in your new area is all you really need to do. It tends to be a lot easier if you belong to a nationwide gym like 24 Hour or Lifetime Fitness, so you don’t have to pay initiation fees every time you move.
If you don’t belong to a nationwide gym, then I recommend looking on Groupon or Living Social to see about getting a discounted monthly membership to a group fitness gym. Group fitness is especially good for those of you who don’t already have an exercise routine and tend to be a little lost in the weight room. This is also a good way to meet people.
If you happen to be traveling to an outdoorsy state such as Colorado, then going to a gym may not be necessary, as there are plenty of parks and hiking that you can do for free; all it takes is a little motivation. I like to pick a local race that I can train for such as a 5k or half marathon. I did my first triathlon in Texas, which was a great training experience. I also brought my bike with me to all of my travel assignments. Making exercise a normal activity in your life takes time. Find something that you enjoy doing; there is no need to suffer your way through it.
Stress management and exercise are key components to feeling great, however nutrition, I believe, is of utmost importance. What you put in your body effects your energy level, your mood, how well you perform at work and changing your eating habits can seriously impact the size of your wallet. Eating healthy is probably the most challenging lifestyle habit to change and one that I have personally mastered, even on the road. Here are my suggestions:
Travel nursing provides you with a unique opportunity to get to know yourself. As a seasoned traveler you will have mastered navigating a stressful work environment, discovered what activities you enjoy the most and have hopefully become a somewhat decent cook. Take this quality time with yourself to practice what you preach and fine tune your own healthy lifestyle…your body will be forever grateful.
By Crystal Gustafson, RN
Crystal Gustafson is a Critical Care Registered Nurse who spent time as a travel nurse in various states including Arizona, Texas, Florida and California. She has recently accepted a system wide float pool position with Exempla Healthcare System in her hometown of Denver, Colorado and also has blog about prevention and education in healthcare. You can learn more about Crystal on her blog at http://grassrootsprevention.blogspot.com/.