Managing Mental Health While On a Travel Assignment
Research shows that 92% of nurses suffer from various forms of stress, ranging from moderate to very high. Furthermore, travel nurses have their distinctive forms of worries in addition to those borne by standard nurses.
Nurses are also human beings, and they can also suffer from mental health problems. Nurses need to manage their mental health while on an assignment, as it can impact their ability to provide care for patients.
Mental health is a broad term that includes our emotional, mental, and social well-being. It impacts our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. It also helps decide how we manage stress, connect to others, and make decisions.
Emotional wellbeing is essential at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. If you experience mental health problems throughout your life, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected.
Whether it is because of Covid or any other work/travel related stress. Managing your mental health is a must while you are away from home and on assignment.
Factors Contributing to Mental Health Problems
Many factors contribute to mental health problems. Below is an elaboration of some of the common contributors;
1. Biological Aspects, Such as Genes or Brain Chemistry
Biological factors happen in our bodies that we cannot control. They may be inherited or result from a chemical imbalance in the brain. Some people are born with a greater risk for mental health problems due to their genes or brain chemistry.
As much as most biological factors are out of our control, we can take steps to protect our mental health by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and managing stress. You can attain this by eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep.
2. Life Experiences, Such as Trauma or Abuse
Childhood trauma is a risk factor for developing mental health problems later. Traumatic experiences can include physical or sexual abuse, witnessing violence, or losing a parent to divorce or death. Unfortunately, trauma can catch up with you at any age.
If you have experienced trauma, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional or support group. Talking about your experience can help you process the trauma and begin to heal. It is never too late to get help, regardless of when it happened.
3. Substance Abuse
Substance abuse is another common factor that can contribute to mental health problems. When people abuse substances, they are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Substance abuse can also make existing mental health problems worse.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional or support group. Getting treatment can help you recover and heal. Substance abuse is relatively complex and challenging to overcome, but it is possible with the right help.
4. Cognitive Factors, Such as Negative Thinking Patterns
Cognitive factors are how we think about ourselves, other people, and the world. Negative thinking patterns can contribute to mental health problems. For example, if you have a negative view of yourself, you may be more likely to develop depression. If you have a negative view of other people, you may be more likely to develop anxiety or paranoia.
Cognitive factors are not set in stone. You can change how you think about yourself and the world around you. If you are struggling with negative thinking patterns, seek help from a mental health professional. They can help you learn how to change your thinking and improve your mental health.
5. Environmental Factors, such as Poverty or Social Isolation
Environmental factors are things that are happening in the world around us. They can include poverty, social isolation, or exposure to violence. These factors can contribute to mental health issues.
The factors impact differently according to individual experiences, beliefs, and values. It is important to remember that no one factor causes mental health problems. Many factors can contribute to mental health problems. If you are struggling with mental health issues, it is important to consult a professional. They can help you understand the factors contributing to your mental health problems and develop a plan to address them.
6. Psychological Factors, Such as Personality or Coping Styles
Psychological factors are the way we think, feel, and behave. They can include things like our personality, coping styles, and how we deal with stress. Psychological factors can contribute to mental health problems.
If you are struggling with psychological factors affecting your mental health, seek help from a mental health professional. They can help you learn how to cope with the factors affecting you and improve your mental health.
7. Family History of Mental Health Problems
Family history is another factor that can contribute to mental health problems. If you have a family member with a mental health disorder, you may be more likely to develop a mental health disorder yourself.
If you have a family history of mental health problems, it is important to be aware of the factors contributing to your mental health problems. Seek assistance from a mental health experts if you are struggling with mental health issues. They can help you understand the factors contributing to your mental health problems and develop a plan to address them.
Mental Health Problems in Nurses
There are a variety of mental health problems that nurses can suffer from. Some of the most common include stress, sorrow, and burnout.
Anxiety is a condition that causes feelings of worry, fear, and unease. Nurses may experience anxiety due to the high-stress nature of their job. Common anxiety symptoms include feeling restless, irritable, and on edge.
Anxiety can be treated with medication and therapy. If you are grappling with anxiety, it is recommended that you consult a mental health professional. A professional stands a great chance of helping you understand and manage your anxiety.
Depression is a condition that causes feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and despair. Nurses may experience depression due to the high-stress nature of their job. The common signs of depression include feeling tired, losing interest in activities, and changes in appetite.
The affected person may fail to realize that they are depressed. Its symptoms don’t manifest physically, so people shrug it off. Depression can be treated with medication and therapy. There are several ways to deal with depression, and a mental health professional will know which treatment is best for you.
Burnout is a form of tiredness that causes feelings of exhaustion, cynicism, and inadequacy. Nurses may experience burnout due to the high-stress nature of their job. Some of the common symptoms of burnout include feeling overwhelmed, detached, and uninterested.
It is important to prevent burnout from worsening, like depression. There are multiple techniques to deal with burnout, but the common thread is to find ways to reduce stress. Taking a rest, talking to a therapist, and changing your work schedule are all ways that can help reduce stress.
PTSD in Nurses
PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. It is a condition that causes feelings of fear, anxiety, and flashbacks after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Nurses may experience PTSD due to the high-stress nature of their job. Some of the common symptoms of PTSD include feeling afraid, avoiding certain places or people, and having nightmares.
PTSD is more severe than most people think. Unfortunately, many people who struggle with PTSD don’t know where to go or what to do. A mental health professional can help you understand and manage your PTSD. There are also support groups available to help you cope with your PTSD.
Tips for Managing Mental Health While On an Assignment
Below are some tips for managing mental health while on an assignment;
- Make Time for Yourself
Creating time for yourself is important while on an assignment. This time can be used to do things that make you happy and help you relax. It is important to balance work and take care of yourself.
Creating time is relatively easy as long as you are intentional about it. You can use your lunch break to walk around the block, read a book, or call a friend. You can also use your free time to take a yoga class, go for a run, or watch a movie.
- Stick to a Schedule
Sticking to a schedule is important while on an assignment. This will help you stay on track and avoid getting overwhelmed. A schedule will also help you make time for yourself.
Sticking to schedule requires you to do some things. For example, ensure you know what is due and when. You can also create a to-do list for each day. By doing so, you will see what needs to be done and when it needs to be done.
- Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries is also essential while on an assignment. This will help you manage your time and energy. It is important to consider your work, personal life, and health when setting boundaries.
Some things to consider when setting boundaries include;
- How many hours are you willing to work?
- What days are you available to work?
- What is your ideal workload?
- Find a Support System
A support system is a group of people you can rely on for help and support. This could be family, friends, co-workers, or a therapist. For example, it helps you develop coping skills and strategies when on an assignment. They can also provide support, and you can rely on your support system for help with childcare, transportation, or to talk to when feeling overwhelmed.
A support system is important because it can assist you when needed. They can also offer you emotional support when things get tough. If you don’t have a support system, consider finding one.
- Seek Help When Needed
There is no shame in seeking help when needed. If you struggle to manage your mental health, consider reaching out to a therapist or counselor. They can help you built coping mechanisms and provide support.
You are allowed to seek help at any time. If you feel overwhelmed, consider reaching out to a therapist or counselor. It is best to do that as soon as possible because it can help prevent things from getting worse. Reaching out for help is a strength, not a weakness. So, if you require assistance, please reach out.
- Get Enough Sleep
Enough sleep is essential when you are looking to manage your mental health. This is because sleep helps reduce stress and anxiety. It is also important to get enough sleep to focus on your work and be productive.
There are a few steps you can make to ensure you get enough sleep. First, establish a bedtime routine and stick to it. The routine can be simple to follow, making you feel relaxed. Second, avoid using electronic devices in bed. Electronic devices can distract you and make it harder to fall asleep.
Another thing to do is create a comfortable sleeping environment that is dark and quiet. You can also try to avoid caffeine before bed. Caffeine is a stimulant and can make it harder to fall asleep. Lastly, try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation if you have trouble falling asleep.
- Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet is critical for managing mental health. This is because a healthy diet helps reduce stress and anxiety. It is also important to eat a healthy diet to focus on your work and be productive.
One of the easiest things to start with is ensuring that you eat breakfast every day. Breakfast is an essential meal because it helps you wake up and start your day. It is also important to eat breakfast because it provides energy and nutrients. Another thing you can do is to make sure you are eating regular meals throughout the day. This will help you avoid getting too hungry, overeating, or making unhealthy food choices.
It is also vital to ensure that you are eating various healthy foods. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. These nutrients are essential for your mental health. Lastly, try to avoid processed and sugary foods as much as possible. These foods can lead to a sugar crash, making you feel tired and irritable.
Exercise is important for managing mental health. This is because exercise helps minimize stress and anxiety. It is also important to exercise to focus on your work and be productive. There are various exercises you can do to help reduce stress and anxiety. Some exercises include walking, running, yoga, and Tai Chi.
You can also try different types of exercise to see what works best for you. If you are a beginner in exercise, start slow and gradually increase the intensity. Exercise is a great way to manage mental health. However, it is important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard.
- Take Breaks
Taking breaks is important when you are looking to manage your mental health. This is because breaks help reduce stress and anxiety. It is also important to take breaks to focus on your work and be productive. There are various ways you can take breaks throughout the day.
One way is to take a few minutes to yourself every hour. It can be used to do something you enjoy, such as reading, listening to music, or taking a walk. Another way to take breaks is to take vacation days. That can be used to relax and rejuvenate. Lastly, try to avoid working overtime. This can lead to burnout and make it harder to focus on your work.
- Connect With Others
Connecting with others is important for managing mental health. This is because social support helps reduce stress and anxiety. It is also important to link with others to feel connected and supported. There are various ways you can connect with others.
One way is to join a support group. This can be used to share your experiences and connect with others going through similar situations. Another way to connect with others is to volunteer. This can be used to help others and feel good about yourself. Lastly, try to spend time with family and friends.
There are multiple factors that contribute to poor mental health of travelling nurses. They range from biological, life experiences, to environmental. Although these problems be overwhelming, there are multiple ways of overcoming them. Here, we’ve explored some techniques of managing your mental health, including:
- Support from family: You can also find support from family and friends or a support group. Getting help is the first step to managing your mental health.
- Seek medical help:Mental health problems are common, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t serious. If you are struggling with emotional wellbeing, seek help from a mental health professional. They can help you manage your symptoms and get on the path to recovery.
- Create time for yourself: you can utilize the time to engage in activities that make you happy.
- Stick to schedule: this helps you to be focused and creating time for yourself.
- Physical exercises: these comprises of various activities like jogging, walking, and dancing, which help in minimizing stress.