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Self-Care Tips For Traveling Healthcare Professionals

Ready for your next assignment? Feeling butterflies? As traveling healthcare personnel, we bounce around taking care of patients, but are we taking care of ourselves? I want to help you center by focusing on one baddie per blog post, in this case, the feeling of nervousness. I will then give you tools and tips for self-care through body, mind and spirit to combat this feeling on the road.

Dictionary.com defines nervousness as a “highly excitable state; unnaturally or acutely uneasy or apprehensive.” Verywellmind.com mentions that nervousness in mildly small doses is actually healthy and helps us to be more aware, keeping us motivated and excited about life. Some healthcare travelers even look forward to these jitters as the rush that keeps them on the road.

I know some of you seasoned pros may roll your eyes about nervous feelings after years of service, and that’s understandable. But, given every assignment we head off to has a bit of uncertainty in it for everyone, regardless of their career timeline, it’s best to have some tricks up our sleeves to create a smooth experience instead of one with jagged edges. Every patient encounter we have is a challenge since we are not certain how things will go. We use our expertise and give the absolute best care available, but not much in our line of work is entirely predictable. And, I am not saying all of us will have anxiety with every new contract, housing situation or patient case. But, if you do get that uneasy feeling, here are some ways to calm your nerves:

BODY

This one is pretty simple and my advice is probably over-played, but there is a reason for it–it works! A good night’s sleep is essential to creating a threshold or cushion to absorb any of the stress the next day will bring. I have found that since I am sleeping in uncharted territory with new sights and sounds about every 3 months, slumbering with earplugs every night is non-negotiable for me. Sometimes I have to use an eye mask to block out light, as well. I also like to use a great little white-noise machine to cancel out any strange noises that might wake me. My husband bought me one for my birthday last May when we were on assignment, working in urgent care in Burlington VT. He, of all people, is well aware how grumpy and anxious I can be if I don’t get quality sleep!

Another tip, and most of you know this is coming and will cringe when you read it, but avoiding too much caffeine, especially on the morning of your first day, will do wonders to not exacerbate any feelings of nervousness. Yes, indulge the rest of the day in riding that wave of coffee through your shift, but stop your caffeine intake at least 6 hours prior to bedtime so that you can rest well.

picture of a women sleeping

MIND

Dictionary.com states a “mantra is usually any repeated word or phrase, but it can also refer more specifically to a word repeated in meditation. Mantra comes from a Sanskrit word meaning a sacred message or text, charm, spell, counsel.” Recite this mantra when walking into the building on your first day or when a difficult case comes your way and you are feeling anxious about it:

graphic that says "all is well, thank you!"

“All is well. Thank you.”

Just keep repeating that until you trust it and start to feel calmer. You can even try it with a breathing exercise by saying to yourself “All is well” while breathing in through your nose, and exclaiming a silent “Thank you” as you exhale through your mouth. You can do it in the presence of others, like when you are with a patient or during a meeting and even with your eyes open. Not all mantras and meditations require a quiet place, yoga mat or sitting in lotus position. Wherever you are reading this right now-try it. It’s a game-changer!

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SPIRIT

We walk miles of clinic and hospital hallways and cover additional miles of asphalt on our commutes to and from work, but do we ever truly touch the ground? Feeling disconnected to the Earth and its energy field can make us scattered and stressed. Earthing is a practice that truly GROUNDS you. Ever wonder about the saying “feeling grounded?” I believe it relates to the practice of Earthing. Here’s how you do it, according to barefoothealing.com:

“Go barefoot outside for at least a half-hour. Sit, stand, lay or walk on grass, sand, dirt, or plain concrete. These are all conductive surfaces from which your body can draw the Earth’s energy. Wood, carpet, asphalt, sealed or painted concrete and vinyl won’t work and will block the flow of electrons as they are not conductive surfaces.”

Experience for yourself the healing energy of the Earth at home the next time you feel frazzled. If you have the luxury of a break at work, head outside and kick off your shoes to calm your soul through your soles.

Feeling butterflies can do you good to keep you motivated and aware. But if those butterflies become screaming pterodactyls that threaten to paralyze you with nervousness, employ the above tips for body, mind and spirit to help keep you focused and calm. Healthcare travelers go far and wide to help others; we must not forget to give ourselves a little love in order to keep giving back.

picture of the author standing by a mountain

Love & light,

L

Bio

Michele L. Goodbread, who prefers to be called by her nickname, L, is a traveling, locum tenens physician assistant . She practices urgent care, occupational medicine and some primary care. When she is not on the road, you can find her at home on her organic farm in Appalachia with her husband, chuckling at her chickens and petting her chocolate labradoodle. She loves meditating on the mystical, creating farm-fresh meals, hiking all the trails and planning her travel adventures.

DISCLAIMER: “The information provided in this blog post is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and such information should not be used in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or healthcare provider.”

Published May 5, 2019