The life of a traveling nurse is, without a doubt, one of the most challenging sectors to work in as a professional. One minute you’re finding your roots, the next, you’re driving to an obscure location and relearning the ins and outs of the city. As travel nurses, we’ve developed the skill of looking fear and stress in the face and flashing a smile, knowing we can rise to any occasion thrown in front of us along life’s journey.

However, there comes a time when we need to sit back and recharge our batteries. After working 12- and 14-hour shifts, nothing beats having a few days to ourselves to explore our surroundings. Although your schedule may vary, here are a few essential tips every traveling nurse needs to implement to maintain their sanity and sense of wonder.

Fall in Love With Fitness and Wellness

As nurses, we make a living with our brains, but more importantly, with our bodies. Even though this statement is simple and easy to understand, we’re often guilty of letting our own health and wellness fall by the wayside while we help others improve theirs.

Instead, we encourage you to make health and nutrition the cornerstones of your lifestyle. Getting a membership to a large-chain gym and planning your meals ahead of time may seem tedious, but you’ll be thankful you did. When you work out and eat healthy meals consistently, your energy increase, and as a result, your ability to engage with patients improves.

Don’t Fall Into the Trap of Fast Food and Quick Fixes

As an extension of your newfound fitness routine, don’t plague your system with meals and snacks purchased from the comfort of a fast-food drive-through.

We know how it goes: You’ve worked with a patient all day, all you can think about is heading home, taking a shower and falling asleep to Netflix and the thought of preparing a meal seems like mild torture. Wanting to remain sane, you pull into your favorite fast-food restaurant and gorge yourself on simple sugars, trans fats and empty calories.

However easy it may seem in the moment to give in to your desires, don’t succumb to, what we call, the “fast-food monster.” Instead, precook your meals on your days off and carry them with you in a small cooler for easy access.

Don’t Give Up on Social Relationships

The idea of making friends or finding a partner in the middle of completing a contract sounds like something we should avoid, but the opposite is true. As travel nurses, we pride ourselves on our ability to be resilient and bold in the face of adversity. A negative side effect of this mindset is when we purposely withdrawal from social normalities and personal relationships.

Regardless of where your career takes you, always strive to make new friends with the people you interact with regularly. Having a nationwide network of people to confide in makes your job easier, and more importantly, relieves the stress and anxiety that builds up throughout your working hours.

Explore Your City in Unique Ways

We’ve heard the age-old mantra that tells us to explore new cities and locations we stumble upon, but this often provides a shaky understanding of our surroundings. Instead, we encourage engrossing yourself in the culture and routines of your new temporary home. If this sounds too confusing, we’ve given you a list of to-dos the next time you have a day off from work:

  • Use public transportation rather than a car
  • Follow a loose schedule
  • Get lost on purpose
  • Don’t be afraid to converse with strangers
  • Take a new friend with you
  • Eat local foods

Pack Light and Say ‘Yes!’

As we mature and our schedules fill with errands and work-related tasks, we begin to horde our spare time like a bag of precious jewels. You know how it goes: you’re about to start a much-needed weekend when suddenly, a friend asks you to come out with them for the evening.

Before you can finish reading the text, you’re concocting ways in which to decline the invitation without hurting their feelings. Before sending that text, say ‘yes!’ Learning to say yes more often is the best way to ignite an adventurous lifestyle. Rather than analyzing every detail of the outing and wrinkling your brow, accept things as they come and watch how your lifestyle slowly morphs into something beautiful and adventurous!