Get Heart Smart: Healthy Living for Travel Nurses
American Heart Month is a good time to rejuvenate those New Year’s resolutions to eat right, exercise and embrace a heart-healthy lifestyle. As a travel nurse, you want to set a good example for your patients. Here are some tips for staying well while working hard on your travel nursing assignment.
Save a life: Apply for a Cardiovascular Travel Nursing Job
Before you leave on your travel nurse job, be sure you are up-to-date on your physician visit and tests. Blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels are essential to heart health. If you have high blood pressure, be sure to check it daily.
Beauty Sleep Matters
A good night’s sleep promotes heart health. Resist the urge to check your phone at bedtime by putting your cell phone and laptop in another room. Also, be sure your bedroom is a dark and cool so you stay comfy all night long. Sweet dreams!
Embrace a New Fitness Routine
Motion is lotion for the heart. Don’t be a couch potato. Here are some fun ways to get your heart rate pumping:
• Find a dance class or a hiking trail in your new city. Make regular exercise part of your travel nurse adventure.
• At work, climb the stairs and walk the hallways.
• If you sit at a computer for long periods, remember the 20-20-20 rule (20 minutes sitting, 20 minutes standing, 20 minutes looking away from the screen).
• If you can exercise outdoors during your time off, you’ll reap the benefits of healthy doses of Vitamin D.
• No time to go to the gym? Get a fitness DVD or look on YouTube for pilates/yoga/Jazzercise routines you can do at home.
• Make fitness friends at work and use your lunch time to exercise (if you can take a lunch, that is!). You can even start your own “Weight Loss” heart healthy challenge and have a healthy potluck once a month.
Control Your Weight
Maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) is the key to a healthy heart, but getting there requires patience and focus. Start by using the BMI calculator provided by the American Heart Association.
• Eat a healthy, balanced diet and watch your portion control. Incorporate colorful vegetables in your diet so you’re getting the maximum value from the food you eat. Your plate should look like a rainbow.
• Sugar and salty snacks are a no-no, although occasional dark chocolate can be your sweet treat.
• Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Water is your heart’s friend. Eliminate diet and regular soda and cut down on juice, which can be high in sugar.
Eliminate Heart-Enemy Habits
Stop smoking (including vaping) now; your family, friends and heart will thank you. Equally important is limiting your alcohol intake. While a glass of red wine now and again has healing benefits, too much of any liquor can damage your heart, kidneys and liver.
Reduce Stress & Anxiety
Long-term stress can wear out your heart. What helps? Travel nurses tell us they like to bring a few favorite things (stuffed animal, favorite framed photo) on the road, even their favorite herbal tea stash and tea cup.
Remember to pamper yourself during your time off:
• Stay in touch with family and friends by text, phone, FaceTime or Skype. Go out of your way to make new friends on your new unit. Socializing is good for the heart.
• Listen to relaxing music, take a lavender-scented bubble bath or cuddle your puppy. (Yes, you can take your pet on a travel nurse assignment).
• Meditation, healing visualizations and deep breathing exercises can calm your heart rate.
• Look at You Tube videos of baby animals playing. Trust me, it works!
• Make time for fun. Keep smiling, keep perspective and most of all, keep a positive attitude. Namaste!