Healthy Habits for Travel Nurses
New year, more coronavirus. While it’s the truth, it’s certainly ominous and dreadful. It’s been a long haul nurses, and still the waves of the pandemic ebb and flow around us. It’s not only nurses suffering from burnout and exhaustion, but we’re holding the frontline and our integral role in the fabric of our society provides additional pressure to the burden. While the disease itself and the havoc it wreaks is outside of our control, we need to find ways to bring hope, joy, and happiness into our lives this year. The miasma that has shrouded the last years may threaten to darken another year, there are steps we can take to provide perspective, and better our mental and physical health.
This is a new year and is a fitting time to create new habits. We all know breaking habits is hard, and forming new ones isn’t known for being easy either. However, small habits ARE easier to form. Furthermore, small habits can affect big changes in our lives. Here’s a roundup of our health habit tips for travel nurses this year.
Making a blanket resolution to eat healthier, is certainly a noble goal. Nevertheless, is it a goal you’ve set for yourself previously and ultimately let go of because certain foods are just too delicious to give up entirely? Or perhaps sweeping statements about healthier eating are hard to commit to due to the fact that one of the best parts about being a travel nurse is discovering the delicious diners, restaurants, and local food haunts wherever you are?
Why not work towards a small habit of healthy snacking, or if that is even a little much, healthy snacking while on shift? Healthy snacking at work will help you maintain stable blood sugar and energize you instead of weighing you down. One thing that I like to do when I arrive atin a new city is to check out the grocery store. Even if you’re a travel nurse foodie, you will need staples and snacks for your fridge at home. Why not stock up on snacks for work while you’re at it?
Nuts are, unfortunately, underestimated and underappreciated as a snack. They are a protein and a fiber that will fill you up without making you feel heavy. Add in the benefit that they’re easy to pack and take along with you wherever you go, they’re a win for everyone (unless you have a nut allergy, of course).
Crunchy veggies such as bell pepper, celery, and carrots are relatively simple to prep and stash in a Tupperware in the breakroom fridge. Add a jar of peanut butter for dipping, Greek yogurt, or mashed avocado and you’re set with protein, calcium, healthy fats, and fiber.
Opt for whole-grain when you can. There are all sorts of whole-grain bread available for sandwiches, whole grain pasta, and even whole-grain crackers. Brown rice cakes are an excellent choice, and you might be surprised that popcorn is a whole grain as well. Where popcorn falls into the unhealthy territory is when it’s cooked in oil and slathered in butter.
A quick tip: To make your own popcorn snack, toss a small number of kernels into a microwave-safe bowl with a lid (also microwave safe) or covered by a microwave-safe plate. Stick close to the microwave and set it on high for two to three minutes, stop when the popping slows down.
Fitting in routine trips to the gym, signing up for an exercise class, or even routine walking or jogging can be overwhelming and difficult for anyone to maintain, particularly for travel nurses for whom change is routine. Commit to taking the stairs anytime you’re presented with an option to take an elevator. You might not love doing it, but it’s easier to choose the stairs whenever you need to go up or down instead of setting aside a half-hour (or longer) for an exercise regimen. Remember: small habits are easier to form, and easier to maintain. This is a small, but meaningful habit you can implement into your daily life regardless of your geographic location.
Science has shown us over and over again the multiple health benefits that accompany drinking water. Water works to counter stress, and if that isn’t alone enough of a reason to drink more water, then how about all the other reasons? Water helps to flush toxins from our body, clear our skin, improve our mood, improve our brain function, and boost our energy.
If you’re prone to buying a coke from the vending machine in the breakroom when you’re thirsty, go out and buy a refillable water bottle and carry it with you everywhere. This will cut back on how much money you idly spend to sate your thirst (whether it be on bottled juices, sodas, or even bottled water) which is of course beneficial to your budget bottom line, but having water always accessible in your backpack or purse will simply ensure that you drink more of it.
These little habits can affect big changes in your life, moreover, they are adaptable for whichever destination you take a travel contract in. Here’s to a happier and healthier year for each one of you. Whether you implement all three of these healthy habits into your daily lives or pick one or two as a commitment, we are confident in the positive changes you can enact for your physical and mental health this year. For strategies to address burnout, check out our post, “Prevent Nursing Burnout and Stay Optimistic During Pandemic”.