By Jadyn Derr, Account Manager, Aureus Medical
Despite what a wonderful career healthcare travel is, sometimes you’re going to be lonely while on assignment. Loneliness is an inevitable part of the human experience and COVID-19 is responsible for an increase in reported feelings of loneliness and symptoms of depression. Some studies suggest that more than 65% of the nation is feeling the sensation more intensely and more often — so you’re definitely not alone and we wanted to help share some tips for how healthcare travelers can address loneliness.
When feeling lonely, it’s productive to acknowledge the feeling and recognize that it’s temporary, then take small steps toward feeling better. One thing that might help ease your loneliness is making a list of people you haven’t talked to in a while that you want to catch up with — and then making a plan to give them a call. You could set up a time with family and friends to hold a virtual game night or arrange for a one-on-one with a parent or best friend.
One of my favorite ways to ease my own loneliness is to send someone a small gift in the mail. There’s something uniquely rewarding about sending a loved one something tangible to let them know you’re thinking of them — and then getting a message a couple of days later with their gratitude. There are still lots of ways to connect even though your social interactions are inevitably limited at this time.
If your loneliness is accompanied by loss of interest in things you usually enjoy, over- or under-sleeping, irritability, or changes in appetite, it’s important to up your self-care and consider ways you might try to lift your spirits. While there’s no one-size-fits-all for self-care and emotional wellbeing, it’s important to make time to prioritize your general wellbeing and mental health.
Here are some ideas to help you and your fellow healthcare travelers prioritize wellness and self-care:
Yoga? HIIT? CrossFit? Weightlifting? Whatever your thing is, make time for it.
I have to call this form of exercise out specifically, because I talked to a nurse the other day who held a full conversation with me while she was on the stair stepper at the gym. That’s a freaking superpower!
Hobbies and Crafts
Painting? Drawing? Scrapbooking? Knitting? Playing an instrument? Extreme couponing? If it makes you happy, do it and do it often!
Learn Something New
Masterclass.com offers a variety of different classes that allow you to stretch your brain and try out something new. There you can find classes on voice acting with Nancy Cartwright, creative writing with Margaret Atwood, and cooking classes with Gordon Ramsay, just to name a few.
Binge Watch a New Show
Relieve yourself of all expectations for the day, just chill out with some popcorn and dive into a new story.
Binge Watch an Old Show
On the other hand, there’s something to be said for the comforting repetition of revisiting an old favorite. Maybe a comedy to help your mood in these difficult times? Parks & Rec or The Office, anyone?
The positive effects of meditation are backed by a ton of scientific research, and it’s an ever-growing trend. Studies show that regular meditation can improve your brain’s gray matter and overall health! Practice even just five minutes of guided meditation through popular apps like Headspace or Calm.
Many people feel a cathartic release when they spend some time writing out their thoughts. You don’t have to be Shakespeare or anything, it’s just about reflecting on your thoughts and feelings!
When it comes to nutrition, consistency is key. Start by making small, manageable changes in your eating habits. Food is our natural energy source, and even the slightest change — like an extra serving of vegetables — can have a huge impact on your mental, emotional, and physical health.
Self-care is important for everyone, but if you’re stillfeeling lonely, agitated, irritable, or any of the many other signs of depression, it’s probably a good idea to seek help. A good first step is to check if your company utilizes an employee assistance program (EAP). Current Aureus travelers get eight free, totally confidential counseling sessions per life event as part of your benefits. Just contact your recruiter for more info or to get started. If your company doesn’t have an EAP, Psychology Today is a good resource for finding a mental health professional. It lets you filter by your insurance, concerns, treatment styles, and preferences. Of course, in an emergency, call 911. Additionally, the National Suicide Hotline is 800-273-TALK.
At the end of the day, it’s crucial to take time to recognize, identify, and process your emotions. It’s okay not to be okay, and there are resources available to help you when you’re not quite sure what else you can do to start feeling better. Our team at Aureus is always here to support you, help you get started with our EAP program, or identify other resources to help you!