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7 Ways to Stay Healthy as a Travel Healthcare Professional

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It’s impossible to deny that there are countless benefits associated with working as a travel healthcare professional, such as having the opportunity to explore new places and meet new people. However, all this moving around and frequent contact with different people can increase your chances of getting sick [1]. Additionally, changes in your routine as you head from one assignment to another can have a negative impact on your diet and fitness. Don’t let these things derail your travel healthcare professional experience. Instead, take note of seven ways to stay healthy as a travel healthcare professional.

1. Get plenty of sleep.

Fatigue can have a dramatic impact on your physical health and increase your chances of getting sick [2]. To prevent this, you’ll need 7-9 hours of sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation [3]. If you’re struggling to sleep avoid watching tv or using electronic devices 30-60 minutes before bed. Be aware that consuming alcohol right before bed can disrupt your sleep patterns later in the night.

A white noise machine or earplugs to block out distractions can help you fall asleep faster. If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and do something relaxing. You could read a book or listen to soothing music. Be sure and resist the urge to surf the internet or check social media. Electronic devices only impede your body’s ability to fall asleep.

2. Be sure to follow a healthy diet.

Late or irregular shifts can wreak havoc on your diet. It will be tempting to grab some fast food and head home. Don’t give in to the temptation to swing through a drive-thru night after night. Instead, one easy way to follow a healthy diet is to take advantage of the hospital cafeteria, which is almost certain to have some healthy options available. Also consider snacking on nuts, fresh fruits, and veggies to hold you over until you can get home and cook a healthy dinner. If cooking is not your thing, you can now have healthy, prepared meals delivered to you every week for just a few dollars more than a fast food combo.

3. Ward off extra stress.

Stress is yet another thing that can jeopardize your health. Try to avoid worrying about things you can’t control. Adopt behaviors or hobbies that help reduce stress. Activities such as deep breathing exercises, Yoga, Pilates classes, reading, knitting or listening to relaxing music can alleviate stress. You can even visit a local animal shelter on your days off to play with a few furry friends. Find what works for you and make it part of your routine.

4. Keep moving.

To stay healthy, you’ll need to incorporate regular exercise into your day-to-day life. Aim for 30-60 minutes of exercise every day, 4-6 days per week. Depending on where you live and work, you may have a fitness center at your disposal. If not, you’ll want to look into joining a gym on a month-to-month basis. You can also walk, jog or run local greenways and nature trails. The activity and fresh air will help keep you healthy plus it provides a great opportunity for exploring your surroundings. There are even personal training apps you can download or workout videos on YouTube.

5. Get your flu vaccination.

In the last few years, many employers have made getting a flu vaccine mandatory, so you may not have an option. Over 81% of healthcare professionals now get vaccinated. Even if it is not mandatory, the CDC, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) recommend that all U.S. health care workers get vaccinated annually against influenza. By getting vaccinated you protect not only yourself but also your patients.

6. Take a nutritional supplement that boosts your immunity.

There are several vitamins and minerals that have been shown to enhance your immune system. For example, fish oil supplements increase white blood cell activity, which is crucial for fighting off invaders [4]. Vitamin C can increase your body’s ability to fight off infection. Zinc is another good supplement option that has been shown to boost immunity and shorten the duration of the common cold. However, take Zinc only if you feel the onset of a cold. Prolonged Zinc supplementation can actually have a negative effect on your immune system and cause other health issues.

7. If you do get sick, stay home.

Of course, you want to go to work, but when you are sick stay home. You are doing yourself and everyone else more harm than good trying to work while sick. Rest is the most important thing your body needs to fight an infection. Trying to push through only hampers your body’s ability to recover. Working while sick exposes your coworkers and patients which could have damaging effects to others.

[1] https://www.fastcompany.com/3050543/why-frequent-business-travel-is-so-bad-for-you

[2] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757

[3] https://sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times/page/0/1

[4] https://www.today.com/health/immune-boosters-t116429