As a nurse, your job is to keep patients healthy and happy. That’s why it’s so important to take care of yourself first.
Nurses are often the first healthcare professionals patients see when they walk into the hospital. They’re also the last person they see before going home. When a patient is sick or injured, their health is in your hands.
Understandably, given the hectic nature of their work, many traveling nurses don’t take care of themselves as well as they should. It’s easy to get caught up in this fast-paced career and forget your own needs – especially when you’re working long hours or taking care of sick people all day. But if you don’t take care of yourself first, it can have severe consequences for your health and well-being, not to mention those of the patients you care for daily.
A graduate program, such as an online degree offered by Elmhurst University, can equip traveling nurses with all the professional travel nursing requirements they need to perform their duties. Still, ultimately it’s up to them to ensure they stay healthy and in good mental and physical shape.
Why nurses need to stay in top shape
Nurses have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. They must keep up with the latest developments in medicine and healthcare and be able to handle all sorts of situations – from dealing with a patient who is in pain and terrified to take a case where there are too many patients for the staff to handle.
The job is stressful, and nurses are often expected to work long hours. This makes it even more critical that nurses stay in top shape to do their jobs well and avoid getting sick.
Nursing is physically demanding.
Nursing is one of the most physically demanding careers in the world. Nurses need to be physically fit because their job requires them to perform strenuous tasks quickly, efficiently, and safely.
As a nurse, you’ll need to be able to lift 50 pounds and carry equipment weighing up to 75 pounds without straining yourself, in addition to lifting patients. A nurse’s duties include pushing IV poles and assisting with physical therapy exercises.
Nurses must also maintain proper posture, so they don’t suffer back pain or other injuries caused by prolonged poor posture at work.
Nurses are on their feet all day.
Nurses are on their feet for long hours at a time. They’re moving around to check vitals and help patients, so they need to move quickly and efficiently. Being on your feet for long periods can take a toll on your body if you’re not used to it.
Nurses need always to stay alert.
The daily tasks nurses are asked to carry out require the utmost attention since a patient’s life may be on the line. Therefore:
- You need to be able to make quick decisions
- It’s important to think on your feet
- You must be able to stay calm under pressure
- It’s also crucial to remain focused under stress
Nurses must function in stressful environments
Stress plays a significant factor in the health of nurses. Nurses may be under constant pressure during their shifts, which can adversely affect their physical and mental well-being.
Nurses need to stay fit to take care of others.
Because your job as a nurse is to care for other people, you need to be in top physical shape to do your job well. If you don’t take care of your health and well-being, you can’t care effectively for others.
How a healthy diet can benefit traveling nurses
The traveling nurse lifestyle is an exciting way to live, but it can also be stressful. That’s why traveling nurses need to keep their bodies healthy and strong through good nutrition. Here are some reasons why eating a healthy diet is so important:
Stress often comes with the territory of being a traveling nurse. When stressed out about work or other life factors, it’s easy for unhealthy choices like fast food or junk food to become appealing.
There are many ways that stress affects the body – it can cause you to sweat more than usual and lower your immune system defenses against illness and disease. Stress can also affect your eating habits by making you crave high-calorie comfort foods like ice cream or pizza.
When you feel overwhelmed by life circumstances (or just bored), these sugary treats can temporarily make you feel better. Still, unfortunately, it also puts you at risk of developing health problems.
A healthy diet reduces stress because it keeps your blood sugar levels steady. When you consume high-carbohydrate foods such as bread and pasta, your blood sugar levels rise quickly and drop just as afterward rapidly, resulting in energy crashes that can cause stress and anxiety.
Instead of only eating these foods, try diversifying your diet with more fruits and vegetables, which contain fewer carbohydrates but still provide energy to help keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day.
Your best defense against illness
One of the best defenses against illness is a healthy diet. Eating right can help you gain more energy, reduce stress and increase your immunity. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will give you more nutritional value than processed foods or fast food.
In your line of work, you may be traveling to an area where unusual viruses or other illnesses are circulating. In these instances, it’s vital to maintain a strong immune system by eating regular meals daily.
Raises energy levels
Maintaining your energy levels while traveling is essential, especially if you have a long travel day ahead. One way to do this is by eating foods high in protein. Good sources of protein include chicken, fish, eggs, and beans. You can also incorporate more avocados into your diet. They contain monounsaturated fats that help you feel full longer and boost your metabolism.
Another way to stay energized and focused during the day is to drink plenty of water (at least eight glasses) because dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, and even illnesses.
Eating a balanced diet improves concentration by consuming plenty of essential vitamins and minerals that help maintain brain health. For example, zinc is an important vitamin that helps protect neurons in the brain from damage caused by oxidative stressors such as free radicals. A deficiency of this vitamin may result in poor memory or poor attention span, making it difficult for nurses to focus on their tasks.
A balanced diet also contains essential vitamins and minerals that help maintain a good mood. For example, magnesium is a crucial mineral that helps regulate mood by reducing irritability and anxiety when you don’t have enough of it in your body. A deficiency of this mineral may cause insomnia, depression, and other mental health problems that make it difficult for you to concentrate on your work.
Sets a good example for your patients
As a registered nurse, it’s important that you set an example in everything that you do – including what goes into your body. In addition to benefiting yourself physically and mentally through proper nutrition practice, you’ll influence your patients to adopt healthier eating habits. You can start by eating cleaner foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds while avoiding processed items such as sugary drinks and fast-food meals.
Additionally, if you feel better physically and mentally, then it’ll be easier to care for others. When you eat healthy foods, you will also have more energy to care for patients instead of constantly feeling tired.
Barriers to healthy eating
A healthy diet is an integral part of staying healthy. However, as a traveling nurse, you will face unique challenges and obstacles when it comes to eating well on the road.
Eating healthily can be hard.
Put, eating healthy is hard. It takes time and money, and you cannot whip up a healthy meal in a few minutes. Eating healthy also requires energy and commitment as you plan your meals for the week and ensure that you’re eating right during your break at work. This can be not easy if you’re traveling or staying in hotels because there isn’t always a kitchen available with what you need to cook (or even access to utensils).
Then there are those days when all of these factors combine – you have less time than usual because of meetings at work; it’s late by the time dinner rolls around; there’s not much in the room that would be considered healthy food – so you end up eating junk food.
Traveling nurses face unique challenges.
As a traveling nurse, you face some unique challenges. One of the most significant is that you’re not always in your home area, which means that certain resources are not always available. You are also often working in areas with a different culture and food, making it difficult to find familiar ingredients or dishes in new locations.
Access to utensils can also be a huge challenge. While there are some standard cooking tools, such as pots and pans, may not be available where you’re staying.
Tips to overcome these challenges
If you are traveling, it can be challenging to eat as healthily as you would like. Here are some tips on how to stay healthy on the road:
Planning is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your health while traveling as a nurse. It allows you to choose healthier foods and eat more often so your body gets the nutrients needed to stay healthy.
Figure out where your next meal will be and ensure you have time to eat during the day. If you’re planning on preparing a meal using local ingredients, make sure to use all fresh ingredients with no preservatives or additives. If anything goes wrong with your cooking, you won’t get sick from eating spoiled food.
If you’re going to be away from home for an extended period, consider ordering some food items online in advance so that you don’t need to search for them while on the road. You could also pack a cooler with healthy meals prepared in advance that can be quickly heated up when needed.
Eat at restaurants that offer healthy options.
Many restaurants now offer healthier options than they did in previous years. If there is no choice for you at an airport restaurant, take advantage of the salad bar and make your meal from scratch using ingredients from the salad bar.
Pack some snacks
Pack your snacks for when hunger strikes unexpectedly. Nuts, fruits, and vegetables make great portable snacks when traveling by plane or car because they won’t spoil if left out too long without refrigeration – as long as you don’t mind slightly wilted produce.
Sometimes eating healthy can get boring if all you do is eat salads with grilled chicken every day. Try mixing things up with different spices or sauces that give your meals more flavor without adding extra calories or grams of fat.
How exercise helps traveling nurses
As a traveling nurse, you’ll spend most of your days on the road, working long shifts and getting little sleep. It can be hard to stay healthy while working in this kind of environment. However, besides a nutritious diet, exercise is another thing that will help you keep your mind and body healthy while traveling. If you’re considering becoming an RN or already have years under your belt as one, here are five reasons why working out is critical for traveling nurses:
Reduces stress levels
One of the biggest advantages of exercise is how it can help you relax. Exercise also helps you sleep better, which has been shown to reduce stress and improve overall mental health. Lack of sleep has been linked to a higher risk for depression, so anything you can do to ensure you’re getting enough rest at night will likely help reduce your stress levels.
Good for cardiovascular health
Exercise strengthens your heart and blood vessels by increasing blood flow. It also improves oxygen flow to all body parts, including muscles and organs like the lungs and brain. This makes it easier for your body to fight off infections or recover from sicknesses more quickly after traveling.
Improves memory and thinking skills
Studies show that exercise can improve memory and thinking skills, which is great news for traveling nurses who often have to think on their feet when dealing with patients or other healthcare professionals.
Helps with weight loss and weight management
Exercise burns calories that can help you lose or maintain weight. This is especially important for people who frequently travel because, as previously discussed, they tend not to stick to their regular routines and may eat less-healthy foods while on the road.
It helps reduce the risk of injury
When you’re working long hours and traveling from one assignment to another, your body can take a beating. Fatigue, stress, and sore muscles can lead to injuries such as sprains or strains. Exercising before work can help prevent these injuries by increasing circulation and flexibility.
Boosts energy levels
When you’re tired and run down, it’s easy to let things fall by the wayside, whether taking care of yourself or doing your job. Exercise gives you more energy, which helps you stay alert and focused on your career. Exercise increases blood flow throughout your body, including to the brain, which helps boost your energy levels. It also releases endorphins in your brain that make you feel good and relieve stress. You’ll have more energy at work and less stress when traveling from job site to job site each week.
Exercises you can do on the road.
As a traveling nurse, you most likely won’t have access to all the necessary equipment for a good workout. Instead, here are some exercises that can help you stay in shape while traveling:
- Stretching exercises
The traveling nurse lifestyle is an incredible one. It offers you the chance to see different parts of the world, have an exciting new experience every day, and make a difference in people’s lives.
But many traveling nurses don’t realize that this lifestyle can take its toll on your body. Between long shifts, constant moving, and lack of sleep, it’s easy to start feeling sluggish and out of shape.
However, if you maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly, you can ensure that you stay healthy and productive while working as a traveling nurse.