Life as a travel nurse is filled with rewards. You get to make a real difference in people’s lives and earn a lucrative wage. Plus, you can travel the country and spend time in new places. You can even pick up assignments in popular tourist destinations and get paid to work in areas that are on your travel bucket list.
Unfortunately, travel nursing can also be pretty lonely.
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When you never stay in one place for more than a few months, making lasting friendships is hard. And working in different cities means spending a lot of time away from your family and friends at home. If your loneliness is making you want to pack up and head back home, don’t cut your travel nursing career short just yet. Learning how to handle loneliness as a travel nurse makes the experience more enjoyable. Before you pack up your medical scrubs and return to your hometown, check out these tips.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
Whether you’re on your first assignment or your fifteenth, feeling lonely is normal. You just relocated to a new city where you don’t know anyone and started a new job. A lot of change is taking place, and it’s at least somewhat difficult for many folks to process. If you are beating yourself up for feeling lonely or emotional and think you might not be cut out for life as a travel nurse, treat yourself with grace and kindness. Your feelings are valid and completely normal, and you can overcome them when you know the right strategies.
Befriend Your Coworkers
Making friends everywhere you go is one of the best ways to fight off loneliness in a new city. Be prepared to make the first move if you want to make it work, though! Resident nurses are used to seeing travelers come and go, so they don’t always feel inclined to reach out to the newbie.
Be confident and introduce yourself to your coworkers on your first day on a new assignment. When you have some downtime, ask them about the best local restaurants and must-see attractions. You could even ask about things like where to buy scrub jackets for women or new nursing shoes nearby. They might offer to show you around or invite you out for a meal at their favorite restaurant. And, just like that, you have a new friend. If you struggle with making friends, check out these tips.
Get a Pet
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A furry friend is a wonderful companion for a travel nurse. Pets ease loneliness and can make your temporary housing situation feel more like home. Knowing that you have a pet waiting for you gives you something to look forward to and eliminates the feeling of walking into an empty house or apartment.
Before adopting a four-legged travel buddy, keep in mind that having a pet can impact your travel options. Temporary housing doesn’t always allow pets, so you may need to seek your own accommodations. You’ll also need to take your furry friend into consideration when making travel plans.
Volunteer at an animal shelter if you can’t travel with a pet. Spending time with animals (even if they aren’t yours) eases loneliness. Plus, volunteering gives you a chance to meet new people, and it’s a rewarding way to spend a day off.
Video Chat with Friends and Family at Home
When you can’t spend time with loved ones in person, video chatting is the next best thing since it allows you to connect “face-to-face” without being in the same room. Friends and family are great sources of comfort when you’re lonely or feeling down, so plan regular virtual meetups. Even if you only talk for a few minutes, seeing and hearing someone you care about makes a big difference when it comes to combating loneliness.
Go Out and Explore
Spend time exploring your new city when you aren’t on the clock. Check out local attractions, popular restaurants, unique shops, etc. If you’re more into spending time in the great outdoors, go for a hike or visit a nearby park or forest.
To boost your chances of making some new friends, attend local events. Facebook is a great place to discover events of all kinds, and attending these events is an excellent way to meet people who share your interests.
Sign Up for a Fitness Class
The endorphin boost that comes from exercise lifts your spirits when you’re feeling lonely or down. But instead of joining a gym and exercising independently, sign up for a fitness class. These classes are a perfect way to stay on top of your fitness, improve your emotional state and meet new people.
Learn a New Hobby
Learning a new hobby is a good way to occupy your mind and keep feelings of loneliness at bay. And some hobbies are great for your physical or mental health — or both! Hiking obviously provides physical health benefits, but it also allows you to clear your mind. And like any other type of exercise, it boosts your endorphins. Plus, spending time in nature reduces anxiety. Practicing yoga provides physical and emotional benefits too.
Crafts like knitting and crocheting soothe the mind and improve dexterity in your hands and fingers. Journaling lets you express yourself and process difficult emotions. No matter what hobby you choose, simply having something to focus on can keep your mind off of missing your loved ones.
Nearly every travel nurse experiences loneliness at least once in a while. It’s hard to build meaningful relationships when you’re always traveling from place to place, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up having personal connections with others. Stay in touch with the special people in your life via video calls and immerse yourself in your job and community to meet people and make new friends everywhere you go. The travel nurse lifestyle takes some getting used to, but once you know how to overcome loneliness, you’ll find your assignments much more enjoyable.