Providing the best patient care can be professionally rewarding as a travel nurse, but family and personal relationships are a critical part of fully achieving life. As you know balancing family life with a full-time nursing career is very difficult. Many nurses have reported feeling “burned out.” A travel nursing career offers a unique way to try out various healthcare settings as well as counter professional burn-out which can, in turn, deliver a less stressed-out version of “you” to your family.
While working a long shift you may experience some stress that can promote irritability at home. Things like angry outbursts aimed at your spouse or children at home can especially create a cycle of tense interactions. In turn, having this tension at home can lead to a decrease in motivation and ability to handle work-related stress, leading to burnout! Here are three ways to manage your professional stress as a nurse so it doesn’t negatively affect your family life:
- Going out for a walk, jog, hike, or even taking a yoga class after work. This way you come home nice and relaxed and more able to be attentive to your family interactions when you arrive home.
- Try taking several deep breaths before you enter your home to create a mental space between your workday and your “after-work” time.
- You can also try reminding yourself of a positive experience you had with each family member before entering your home after work. This will have your mind more focused on the positive experiences over the negative ones you had at work!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! – Have a support System
Having a good work-life balance is hard for most people (including nurses), so you are not alone! The mental strain of nursing others was hard enough before the Covid-19 pandemic. You might be more anxious that you could unwittingly transmit Covid-19 to family members. Having such long-standing anxiety can result in reduced mental energy for interactions with both your co-workers and family members!
As a travel nurse, you might have to adjust to a changed workplace, different duties, new workplace culture, and being apart from your family and friends for specified periods of time. On the other side, your family and loved ones may need more of your emotional energy when you return.
This pandemic has led to an increased provision of telehealth, and more mental health therapists than ever before. Whether you prefer in-person or virtual sessions with a therapist, the most important thing is to seek support if you are feeling overwhelmed!
Schedule Family Time and Partner Time
Depending on your travel assignments you may be away from your family for weeks or maybe just as long as your shift. Either way, you may not be able to spend daily quality time with each of your family members, which can be nurturing for both of you! By scheduling this time with each individual, you can share any minor annoyances that might fester if not addressed. You can also use this time to provide positive feedback and emotional support that can help strengthen the bond you have with each other! Nothing beats that feeling of relief and joy that comes with a reunion after a time away as a powerful reminder of your connection and relationship.
We also have many travelers that have hit the road with a partner, spouse, or other family member(s). Their travel partner might even be retired or have a remote position where they can work from home. It can be so much fun to have a companion to explore a new location with you. Of course, just like your family at home, you’ll still need to focus on your non-work time together. This is really a win-win for everyone even when there are times when all you want to do is sleep in.
Asking your family to pitch in
As a travel nurse, you may not be able to spend that daily quality time with each of your family members. Consider designating tasks for each of your family members, and phoning them to follow up with them when that assigned task has been performed. Daily chores like straightening up, laundry, and even homework are all great examples!
Many travel nurses take their children with them on assignments. Sometimes this happens when an assignment aligns with their children’s school breaks. Other times they travel with a caregiver who will oversee the children’s online education. We realize this can be challenging, but the experience of new places and meeting different kinds of people is an education in itself!
Regardless of who you travel with or how far you are from your family and loved ones, it’s important to focus on your stress and energy levels when thinking about your relationships with them. Being a nurse can be very taxing but the reward of helping your patients is priceless! As always you can always talk to your recruiter for the support you need!