Nursing is one of the most demanding careers. Long shifts and busy hospital wards keep nurses on their toes, with little downtime or sometimes even breaks.
For travel nurses, it can be even more demanding. In addition to the expected hustle and bustle of the day, travel nurses are learning the processes and policies in a new facility.
This level of pressure can leave anyone feeling wound up and stressed out. At Trusted Nurse Staffing, this is the last thing we want for our travel nurses.
This guide shares ten tried and true relaxation techniques for travel nurses and why destressing is crucial to your physical and mental health.
Table of Contents
- 11 Types of Relaxation Techniques for Travel Nurses
- 4 Benefits of Relaxation Techniques for Travel Nurses
- Trusted Nurse Staffing: Reminding You to Prioritize Self-Care in Your Travel Nursing Career
11 Types of Relaxation Techniques for Travel Nurses
#1: Progressive Muscle Relaxation
One of our favorite relaxation techniques for travel nurses is progressive muscle relaxation. It can help you tune into your body and quickly identify tension and stress.
Progressive muscle relaxation can be done discreetly anywhere and at any time.
You start with one muscle group in your body, such as the legs, and tighten the muscles as if you’re flexing. Then, after a few beats, using a trigger word like “relax” or “release”, you slowly release the tension and focus on how your muscles feel as they begin to relax.
Focusing your attention on the physical tension in your muscles draws your mind away from your worries and allows you to calm down.
So the next time you’re feeling the stress of the day get to you, try some progressive muscle relaxation.
#2: Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of slowing down your thoughts, calming your body and mind, and letting go of any lingering feelings of negativity.
Techniques vary, but mindfulness meditation generally involves awareness of mind and body combined with deep breathing exercises.
You don’t need any special props unless you want to add scented candles or relaxing music. All you need is a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down for three to five minutes. A judgment-free mindset helps too!
#3: Breathing Exercises
Humans have used deep breathing to relax for centuries. But, what they didn’t know back then, is that there’s a medical reason why deep breathing helps us chill out.
Deep breathing helps to quiet your sympathetic nervous system, which controls your fight-or-flight response. When you start to feel anxious or stressed, your body involuntarily takes shorter, more shallow breaths/
Taking deep breaths activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls your rest-and-relax response, to take over and calm you down.
Whether you take the time to breathe deeply regularly or only when things start to get hectic, it’s a surefire way to settle your nerves and help you destress.
Lucky for travel nurses, yoga is so common these days, you’ll have no problem finding a studio with classes in your city. And even if you’re not up for hitting a yoga studio, you can easily find beginner to advanced yoga classes to follow along with on YouTube.
Yoga combines mental and physical disciplines that are aimed at helping you achieve peacefulness of your body and mind.
This can help you relieve stress and anxiety while exercising your body at the same time. It’s a win-win!
Speaking of exercise, there’s no better way to destress and relax than to hit the pavement — or maybe the punching bag!
Exercise is proven to help reduce stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. It also produces endorphins, which are your body’s natural mood elevators and painkillers.
So, lace up those sneakers and find a way to get your body moving!
#6: Sufficient Sleep
We know — easier said than done, right? But, it’s worth stressing just how important it is for travel nurses to get restorative sleep, both for the nurse and their patients.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night. But with long shifts and the potential for overtime, we know firsthand that many nurses don’t accomplish this.
Many facilities and hospitals recognize the importance of sleep and offer comfortable napping quarters for nurses to take sleep breaks, especially during night shifts.
Ask the facility what their napping policy is ahead of your assignment.
Visualization is a powerful tool that can be used to help you reach your goals.
Visualization allows you to escape the stresses of the day and reduce your anxiety simply by closing your eyes and imagining a calming place.
Pay close attention to your senses and let them guide you through your visualization. What do you hear or smell in your happy place? Can you feel a warm breeze or hear the sounds of the birds in the trees?
Similar to progressive muscle relaxation and breathing exercises, you don’t need to set aside time for visualization. You can practice visualization very easily and subtly while at work or alone in your free time.
When people think of self-care, they may conjure up images of a day at the spa or a relaxing massage. While these are great self-care practices, you don’t always need to spend money to make self-care a priority.
Choose a form of self-care that connects with who you are and what makes you happiest. It could be a warm bubble bath, reading a book on your patio, or dancing to your favorite music.
Whatever you choose, self-care should relax and refresh you.
#9: Connecting With Loved Ones
Feelings of isolation can lead to loneliness and increased stress. Schedule time to stay connected with your loved ones, whether it’s through video chat, phone calls, or in between assignments on a vacation meetup.
Having those connections to look forward to will help ease those feelings of loneliness and give you something to look forward to.
#10: Getting Organized
This strategy takes a little bit of forethought, but it’s a definite winner when it comes to relaxation techniques for travel nurses.
When you start your assignment feeling organized, you’re a lot less likely to experience unnecessary stress once you begin.
Consider making a packing list in advance to ensure you don’t forget anything. Start packing two weeks ahead and keep track of items with a checklist as they go into boxes and suitcases.
Before arriving, consider what will make you happiest during your days off and source those things beforehand. It could be finding the closest gym or joining the local book club.
Lastly, be ready for your shifts. Make sure your scrubs are clean and ready to go. Shop in advance and prepare healthy meals and snacks to bring to work. Plan for restful breaks, like taking a walk in the hospital courtyard, or finding a quiet place to read.
#11: Taking Time Off From Work
Moving between assignments is already stressful, even for seasoned travel nurses, so we’ve saved our top relaxation technique for travel nurses for last — take some time off!
While it can be tempting to pile on one assignment after another — you are making some pretty good money, after all — not taking time off can seriously stress you out and even lead to burnout.
You can go back to your hometown to connect with friends and family or take the opportunity to treat yourself to a destination getaway you’ve been longing for.
Whatever you choose, taking your mind off of work for at least a week or two can help restore your energy and reduce your stress.
4 Benefits of Relaxation Techniques for Travel Nurses
#1: Improved Sleep
Actively focusing on relaxation techniques can improve the quality and quantity of your sleep. When you clear your mind of stressors before you sleep, you’re less likely to experience restlessness.
Relaxation techniques are aimed at reducing physical tension, which can affect your sleep quality. Studies have shown that practicing relaxation techniques can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
#2: Increased Overall Well-Being
Practicing some, or all, of the relaxation techniques for travel nurses listed above, has been proven to increase overall well-being and help prevent illness.
It’s widely known that high stress can negatively affect your mental and physical health. Chronic stress may lead to high blood pressure and mental health issues as well as other health concerns.
Travel nurses may experience a higher level of stress than people in other professions. Relaxation techniques are recommended to improve well-being on an ongoing basis.
#3: Reduced Tension and Anxiety
Do you ever get home after a long shift and all your muscles feel tight? Maybe your breathing is shallow or you’re feeling a little sweaty. Perhaps you feel your heart racing or you can’t slow down your mind. This could be anxiety.
To reduce the damaging effects of stress, you need to activate your body’s relaxation response. When truly relaxed, your body may:
- Slow down your breathing and heart rate
- Bring your mind and body back into balance
- Lower your blood pressure
- Calm your nervous system
Incorporating a relaxation technique that fits your lifestyle can help reduce everyday tension and anxiety while improving your mood and energy.
#4: Improved Concentration and Focus
When stress takes over, it can be difficult to focus on even the smallest tasks. For nurses, this can be extremely detrimental to their job.
Taking the time to practice some of the above relaxation techniques for travel nurses can help improve focus and concentration, and ultimately your at-work productivity.
Trusted Nurse Staffing: Reminding You to Prioritize Self-Care in Your Travel Nursing Career
At Trusted Nurse Staffing, nothing means more to us than the health, well-being, and happiness of our travel nurses.
Our team of recruiters is here to help you select travel nurse assignments that align with your expertise, but also ensure you’re not reaching unhealthy levels of stress.
We work around the clock to assist our nurses in every stage of their assignment. From the application process to renewing contracts or moving on to another assignment, we’ll be by your side.
For more information about taking care of yourself through relaxation techniques for travel nurses, speak to one of our recruiters today.