Learning To Reduce Anxiety As A Travel Nurse
By Natalie Newman, Contributing Writer
I have always been a planner. I plan everything that happens in my day from when to do the laundry to when I exercise. Planning gives me a sense of calm and control, but with travel nursing, I have learned to let this micromanaging go and it’s been a challenging, transformative experience.
Now I have found other ways to deal with anxiety because while travel nursing, things commonly don’t go as planned. Sometimes I don’t know what the future holds—I have no idea if the hospital will renew me, or where I will sign my next contract. Sometimes hospitals back out of your contract and decide to go without a traveler. Sometimes you’ll be floated, or nothing seems as expected in your new city and environment.
So I have now learned the beautiful art of “going with the flow”. It wasn’t easy for me, but here are some ways to help you truly enjoy the ride.
Tips To Reduce Travel Nurse Anxiety
Be excited about new opportunities
As a travel nurse, I can guarantee people envy your job! Really think about it for a minute…you can go anywhere and have a lot of time off while getting paid to enjoy whatever you want to do!
Not many people get that opportunity, so enjoy it, be grateful, and live it to the fullest. Sometimes the fun of an adventure is in the unknown. If the assignment is not what you expected, turn it around so it serves you and you gain something out of the experience. We can decide how we react and our decisions control our happiness. Choose happiness no matter what.
This happened to me with my current assignment. I am not in the hospital PACU as planned, but I am in a doctor’s office in a specialty I’ve never heard of and I’m the only PACU nurse there. I decided to make the most of it. I decorated my office, went to all the meetings and tumor boards, and even sang songs to the kids because I was the only nurse so I made my own rules. Now I truly enjoy my job and have gotten a complete education working so close to the doctors and patients. I have never felt more confident as a nurse.
Practice helpful mantras and affirmations
Whenever I am feeling anxious I change my thoughts. It’s easy to do when you have your favorite thoughts available to you. Some of my favorite affirmations are by Louise Hay and I strongly recommend her books. I have a couple affirmations written down but I remember my favorites because I use them often.
Repeat these sayings to yourself over and over again and they will change your mood and become your new thoughts. Eventually, you will believe anything you tell yourself so be careful with your words. It’s just like your mom telling you how smart and beautiful you are—we all believed what our parents told us when we were children and we carried that with us. Please keep your true values and beliefs and don’t let outside circumstances control your harmony inside.
- Life excites me and I am grateful for the opportunities the universe provides
- I can handle anything life presents to me
- Only good comes to me
- I have the courage to live my dreams
- I am at home in my body
- Every cell in my body is dancing with love, health, and joy
I was always rather bored with yoga. I really wanted to like it but just felt like all I was doing was stretching. Harvard Health recently published a study that examines how yoga practices reduce the impact of stress responses and are extremely helpful for anxiety.
Once I learned about the health benefits of yoga and I started watching inspirational people on YouTube giving free classes, I decided to try it again. Wow! It really does make me feel adjusted, calm, centered, and refreshed.
The best part is that you can do it anywhere with no equipment, and that’s comforting to me being all over the country in new places. Start with just five minutes a day and gradually you will want to do more. Yoga is the key to feeling grounded wherever you are. I have never been able to do a push up until I started practicing yoga, it has made me stronger than I’ve ever been mentally and physically.
Whenever something doesn’t go as planned, I don’t let it stress me out anymore because I have a deep inner calm achieved with meditation. This took some time, but after one week of doing this, you will notice a difference.
Again, you can start by doing just five minutes a day and still get results. Here’s a beginners tip; close your eyes, make sure your spine is straight, relax your mind and body and repeat your favorite word or mantra, letting your mind hum.
Don’t get discouraged if you keep having other thoughts, simply come back to your original mantra or simply the feeling of breathing. If you need extra help, there are thousands of guided meditations on YouTube to help you get started and get you into a calmer state.
Start “connection talks”
Nothing relieves anxiety like knowing you are not alone. It’s not hard making new friends as a travel nurse, but it’s hard to find lasting connections. The small talk, the superficial questions of “what do you do?” and “where are you from?” are all noise. No one really cares.
Find someone you find interesting and talk to them about; their biggest dream; where they want to be in five years; how they became successful in any area of their lives; what makes them excited in life; or their favorite childhood memory. Be vulnerable yourself and show honesty. You will be surprised at the answers that come to you when you also show genuine curiosity.
“Letting go” exercises
Opportunities are often missed because you don’t see them. We all can get distracted by the stresses of life. Try letting things go and feel the liberation! Here are some exercises I’ve been doing:
- Have a clothing item with a stain? Throw it away!
- Upset with someone close to you? Tell the person how you feel then let those feelings go and concentrate on things you can do to be a better person.
- Have something you love but don’t use? Give it to a friend. Be free and create space for positive emotions.
I hope these tips help you so you can follow your dreams and have wonderful travels while going with the flow!
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