Exhausted nurse sitting on the floor with her eyes closed holding a styrofoam cup

How to deal with Stress as a Travel Nurse

Stress is unavoidable in any profession but nursing the stress levels can out rival most.  The first time you had to do CPR on a patient. The first time you ran a CODE BLUE or assisted during an ACT Call. Daily pressures can range from life and death responsibilities, physical exhaustion, to never-ending documentation, difficult situations with patients, families, doctors and more.  Knowing how to deal with stress will be a vital part of your career. Nursing is one the most rewarding, yet most stressful careers.

Now let’s talk specific to travel nurses, while moving and getting acclimated to a new city may add its own stressors at the beginning of an assignment, travel nurses have unique opportunities to achieve balance in their lives and enjoy experiences and adventures not found in other professions.  Here are a few tips to deal with those stressors that will inevitably find their ways in.

Get Organized

Experienced travel nurses have learned that being organized helps making traveling and working easier. 

  • Make a packing list before you set off on your new assignment (see our article of The Travel Nurse Packing List)
  • Setup a detailed online calendar with such tools as Any.do or Google Calendar. Utilize functions such as reminders, to do lists, goals, and task.
  • Prepare your shopping list. Plan your meals for the entire week and shop once.  This will not only save you time but also avoid food waste.
  • Prepare a list of errands you need to run. Most people try to remember all the admin tasks they need to do and often forget causing another needless trip.  Combine your errands with your grocery store trip to save time.

Organization is the key to making sure goals are achieved and that you feel productive and accomplished.

Explore Your New City or Region

Before you kick off your 13-week nursing assignment, it’s crucial to unplug and adventure out.  Get there a few days early, see the sites, enjoy the local fare, find a farmer’s market, meet some locals, check out a museum or sports complex – the possibilities to unwind, unplug and engage in your new surroundings are endless!

Get Some Shut Eye

Missing out on the sleep we need can leave us grumpy, sluggish, irritable, which are the perfect ingredients for a stress sandwich!  Let’s be honest…you’re a nurse…you already know this!   Like drinking water, it seems like the easiest advice to follow, but it’s often the most difficult to do.  Just remember, this is a new opportunity, in new surroundings, with new people.  To be at your best, you need a solid 7-9 hours of sleep, which is recommended by the National Sleep Institute.


Let’s just get this one out of the way now.  We know you’re on your feet all day, up and down, lifting and pulling.  But remember, you need to get outdoors too.  Fresh air can work wonders to relieve stress and anxiety.  If you can go for a hike or run on the beach, fantastic!  But a leisurely stroll through a park, or even around your campus, can produce endorphins that will keep stress at bay and your mood light.

Connect with Your Support Team

You’re in a new city and finding your way around a new medical facility.  Chances are, you aren’t the only one.  Take the time to reach out and connect with other travel nurses – you already have so much in common.  And of course, make sure to take time to call, text, or FaceTime your family and friends back home. 

In the midst of a hectic move and starting a new assignment, it’s vital that you take time for YOU!  Be mindful when your anxiety and stress levels rise.  If you can’t get away, do some deep breathing exercises to get through the moment.  Realize that your attitude, energy, and engagement is critical to your new role.  So, taking the time to soak in the tub, read a book, go for a walk, enjoy a new restaurant with friends is absolutely critical to maximizing your opportunity and loving your experience.

Fusion HCR Healthcare Travel Nursing
We hope this helps give some insights into how to deal with stress as a traveler.  If you are interested in learning more, or have questions about travel stress, please call us at 937-572-7902.  We are happy to help!