How To Avoid Burnout As A Travel Nurse


Taking Care of Others

Nurses prioritize the well-being of others every single day. They work tirelessly to ensure patients are comfortable, safe, and receiving the proper care that they deserve. And while working back-to-back 12-hour shifts can be physically demanding – it can also be mentally and emotionally draining.

Because nurses have been accustomed to giving their all during work hours, especially with the ongoing stress of the global pandemic, self-care may take a backseat, or simply be non-existent.

Self-care has been the topic of many conversations lately. According to the World Health Organization (WHO),
self-care is defined as "what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness." It’s important to know that self-care looks different for everyone, depending on their personalities and lifestyles. It does not mean that you must take time off work to go have a spa day.

Self-care is an all-encompassing concept that focuses on caring for your whole self. It means making sure that your needs are being met across the spectrum, including intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Carving out time to intentionally focus on you, without interruption, can make a huge difference in your mental and emotional health. And for healthcare workers, research has shown that self-care can help to decrease feelings of burnout and compassion fatigue, which ultimately helps with job satisfaction.

Book a Therapy Session
An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a workplace program that offers confidential assessments. Most EAPs cover free counseling sessions, either over the phone or via Telehealth, for full-time employees and their spouses. Additionally,
Therapy Aid Coalition offers pro-bono or low-cost online sessions with a therapist for frontline and essential workers.

Get a Pen and Paper
Journaling is a technique often prescribed by therapist and counselors, to help relieve stress. Set aside five minutes each day to write down what you’re grateful for, or how you’re feeling in the moment. It may also be helpful to list your short-term or long-term goals.

 Set Boundaries Around Sleep   
 Most adults don’t get an adequate amount of quality sleep. To help boost relaxation and improve overall sleeping habits, consider the following:

  • Having a consistent bedtime
  • Investing in blackout curtains
  • Using a white noise machine
  • Taking a melatonin or magnesium supplement
  • Unplugging an hour before bedtime

While it can be tempting to lay in bed and scroll on social media or watch movies until you fall asleep, it’s proven that blue light emissions from devices negatively impact sleep. To eliminate waking up throughout the night from alerts, set your phone or other devices on “Do Not Disturb.”

Practice Mindful Breathing
Box breathing or “square breathing” is a technique used by Navy SEALS to remain calm and focused during a crisis. It works for regular people, too. To practice box breathing, take slow, deep breaths through your nose for four seconds, hold for four seconds, and then exhale for four seconds. Box breathing has been proven to calm and regulate the autonomic nervous system, meaning that it can lower blood pressure and heart rate, and even improve your mood. If you have 60 seconds to spare right now, practice box breathing using this visual.

Focus on Quality Nutrients        
When you’re exhausted, it can be extremely tempting to reach for coffee, an energy drink or a sugar-filled processed snack. These options may offer quick energy, but they also come with an unwelcomed blood sugar crash. Making smarter choices around food and drinks can give you sustainable energy throughout your shift, which will help eliminate the “hangry” feeling while also stabilizing your blood sugar levels. Try to reach for foods that are minimally processed, such as: almonds, hard-boiled eggs, whole fruit, oatmeal, or fresh salad. Consuming a mix of healthy fats, carbohydrates and protein, along with dietary fiber, will help you stay fuller longer.

Get Creative
We tend to lose our creative juices as we age. Think back to when you were younger – what did you get excited about? Pick up one of those beloved hobbies, like drawing, dancing, skating, crafting, or listening to music. Take a trip down memory lane by playing an old board game. You might also consider sending a hand-written letter to a relative or friend. Sure, it’s easy to send a text. But there’s something extremely special about a hand-written note.

Listen to a Podcast
Have you heard of A Nursing State of Mind Podcast? In this series, two seasoned nurses, Linda Groah and Phyllis Quinlan talk about coping mechanisms and discuss ways to restore passion for nursing. This podcast is produced by AORN and appeals to nurses in every practice setting, and each episode is under 12 minutes.

To learn more about how to prevent burnout and increase overall wellbeing, please
check out this article.

As always, we want to thank nurses across every specialty for working tirelessly to help keep our community safe and healthy.


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