Let’s face it – nursing can be one of the toughest careers out there.  As a nurse, you are a pillar of support for people that you don’t know, and it’s often at times that difficult for them personally.

So how can you stay sane while on (and off) the job?  We’ve compiled a list of 9 great pieces of advice to make sure you’re still taking care of yourself while taking care of all of your patients.

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1. Prioritize

It may sound like a very basic piece of advice, but making a list of your priorities can offer a significant amount of clarity throughout your day, especially if you have a huge number of tasks to keep track of.

Allowing yourself to see your day’s work as a “big picture” can also help you maintain focus, while crossing off each item will feel like a small victory (woohoo!).

We know you’re busy, but taking 5 minutes in the morning to get yourself organized may have a big payoff for both your productivity and your sanity.

2. Stay in the Moment

Despite our first piece of advice, when you do have a big to-do list it may feel overwhelming and daunting.  The key here is to stay in the moment!

For example, when you arrive on a travel nursing assignment you will be faced with meeting your new team and learning your surroundings while carrying out your regular work.  If it feels like there’s too much to do, refocus yourself back to the present moment; there will always be a time in the future where you can get to know your new co-workers or figure out the layout of an examination room.  Pay attention to whatever task is at hand, and once you clock out let go of your work-related thoughts until your next shift.

3. Ask for Help

Nurses are so great at giving help that sometimes they forget to ask for help themselves.  If you’re unsure how a new hospital does things while you’re on a travel nursing assignment, or if you just become bogged down with work in general, it is absolutely okay to ask for help.  Your co-workers are there to support you, and it’s amazing how big of a difference just a little bit of support can make on your stress levels.

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4. Act Pre-Emptively 

When dealing with a difficult patient, take extra care to keep meticulous charts so that there is no ambiguity when referring back to them in the future.  If a patient appears to be getting frustrated, be sure to explain everything thoroughly in order to counter any confusion.  Putting in a little extra time with these patients may save you a huge headache down the road.

5. Indulge in Me-Time

Whether it’s meditation, exercise, a massage, or grabbing coffee with a friend, “me-time” is essential to managing your stress levels.  Find something that boosts your own health while also helping you relax, and allow yourself to indulge in it regularly.  A piece of dark chocolate after a yoga class never hurt anyone!

6. Have a Sense of Humour

Sometimes when things go wrong or you’re in over your head, you just need to laugh it off.  There are definitely times to be serious, but keeping a light heart will allow you to shake off the small stuff so that you can approach any bigger issues with full force.

Seeing the humour in not-so-great situations can be an effective coping mechanism for many people – it’s okay to let yourself laugh once in a while.

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7. Lean on Your Co-Workers

No one understands what you are going through better than the other nurses you work with.  If you’re struggling with stress, talking with someone who can relate may be enough to alleviate the burden you’re carrying.

This is especially important for travel nurses as your full-time co-workers will likely have more experience at your assigned hospital, and they may have unique pieces of advice that will help you face tough situations like a pro.

8. Shake Things Up

The beauty of travel nursing is that there’s a HUGE range of work opportunities that await you!  Speak with a recruiter to see if Select Medical Connections has a position (or work location) available that’s better suited to your needs than your current one.

9. Remember You Rock

You’re a nurse.  You help other people for a living.  YOU are an incredible contributor to the lives of countless other people!  Reflect on this and take time to remember it each  day, especially when you’re not feeling your finest.