Staying mentally and physically fit is important for everyone but essential for healthcare travelers. As mentioned in my last blog, I wanted to have current travelers give tips on how they lessen stress and keep energy up while on the road. This month’s blog comes courtesy of Matt J., a PTA that is about to start his 2nd assignment with Aureus Medical. Although Matt is new to traveling, his approach to handling the day-to-day challenges has helped him to make transitions smoothly and successfully. Here are some of the tips he has to offer:
- Exercise is key to relieving stress. “After the initial shock of getting over something new, I was fine. Working out is my answer to everything…getting a good sweat.” When starting to travel, the hardest part for him was getting immersed into a completely different environment. So listening and asking questions help but when the day is over, heading to the gym to burn off stress really did the trick.
- Balancing work, family and relationships when away is difficult, but not impossible. “It was harder on me because she’s busy…so when I wanted to talk, she couldn’t. It’s easy to get frustrated when you worry about bills, work, no time with girlfriend…Since I was by myself, I could relieve some of my frustrations by going for a run.” Fill your time with activities that you enjoy so that you’re not sitting around waiting for the next day to start. It’s important to be active, whether you are exercising, sightseeing, or simply taking in a movie. Schedules will differ for you and your family so budget your time to adjust for their schedules and for yours. Setting a time to call will help reduce the likelihood of becoming upset because you can’t connect.
- Take advantage of the time to yourself. “I used the time away from friends to get healthy, eat right…develop good habits.” While on his first assignment, Matt took it as an opportunity to become focused, including training for his first half marathon. Not only did Matt complete the half-marathon, he beat the time he had set for himself. “Finishing the marathon was the coolest sense of accomplishment.”
- Stay mentally balanced. “It’s easy to get frustrated when you don’t have [an assignment] locked up or you thought you had something locked up…talking to you guys helped me out.” There’s a certain degree of uncertainty with traveling which isn’t for the faint of heart. Talking regularly with your recruiters so that you are abreast of the situation helps but knowing that the assignment may not work out can take its toll. Times like these require you to kick it up a notch in the coping skills department. Maintain communication with your recruiter including coming up with a backup plan with a drop dead date in which it takes effect. Keep up your healthy eating habits, be active and get plenty of rest.
- Eat healthy. “Cooking for one wasn’t really the problem, it was shopping for one. I realized quickly that I had to buy in smaller portions.” Matt made sure to cook more often and eat out considerably less because he could control what went into his food. He made it a point to try new foods and to look up recipes online to add variety. When eating out, try researching the nutrition info ahead of time so when you get to the restaurant, you know exactly what you should order.
Developing healthy habits and effective coping skills are important for everyone. Make sure to take time every day to lessen stress and increase your fitness level. As always, I would love to hear what works for you so feel free to comment so that we all learn something new!
Sun Hui (Sunny) Snook graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from Truman State University and received a Master’s in Human Services from Bellevue University. She has been in the healthcare staffing field for 11 years, first working with nurses before moving to a nationwide work strategies consultant where her key responsibilities were to coach staffers and hospital managers on effective staffing. In 2009, Sunny started with Aureus Medical as an Account Manager in the Rehab Therapy division, working with both clients and prospective employees. In 2011, she moved to Student Outreach Coordinator. Sunny was named the 2011 Employee of the Year for C&A Industries, the parent company of Aureus Medical Group. Prior to working in healthcare staffing, she served as an addictions therapist and residential treatment coordinator for five years.