6 Tricks to Beat Homesickness as a Traveling Nurse
"Many people are in a rut and a rut is nothing but a grave."-- Vince Havner, American clergyman and author
Life coaches tell us that achieving happiness comes from striking a balance between taking nerve-wracking risks and staying in a safe, but stifling, space. And staying out of a rut may involve a move away from the safety of home.
Travel nursing has energized the minds and souls of thousands of dedicated nurses, but they aren't always immune from the stresses that accompany change. Many American Mobile nurses admit to a few days of homesickness when they begin their travel nursing jobs, but say they have found ways to quickly overcome it.
Why leave home in the first place?
Our nurses often tell us that dissatisfaction or boredom with a permanent nursing position prompted them to explore travel nursing in the first place. They wanted to escape that stuck-in-a-rut feeling and try something completely new. They also relished the chance to gain experience in top health care facilities outside of their normal reach.
One such traveling nurse is Brianne Carruthers, our 2016 Commitment to Excellence winner. In our interview with Brianne, she explained:
"I went into healthcare because I love children and medicine," Brianne explained, "but seven or eight years after leaving my nursing program, I felt stagnant … I needed to find my best self again."
Brianne admitted that she did experience a few days of homesickness and a little loneliness, but staying connected with those back home via phone, email and social media helped until she could connect meaningfully with people at her new travel nursing assignments.
How to overcome homesickness
Do you have moments when your new surroundings don't feel as warm and comforting as your familiar hometown? When those nostalgic memories start creeping in, use these easy tricks to beat the traveling nurse homesick blues:
1. Utilize social media and your tech devices. Post away on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and read up on the goings-on of friends and family from back home. Don't forget to schedule FaceTime or Skype chats with your closest pals, and maintain those text conversations to combat the doldrums, if needed. Keeping up with the events and news will make you still feel connected. (It may even help you realize that some separation from the hometown and family craziness can be a good thing!)
2. Initiate social outings. Take the bull by the horns and suggest an outing with some of the other new nurses you've met. Fellow nurse travelers, especially, can be a great support system. You can do a happy hour nearby, or go out for coffee, movies, bicycling or any kind of excursion. It may take a few outings to feel completely comfortable with a new group, but you're very likely to find an adventure buddy or two and create some long-lasting friendships.
3. Explore a new area on your own. Sometimes just walking through a new neighborhood is enough to rev up your psyche and get you feeling like yourself again. Find the main street where people are gathering and take the time to indulge in a cappuccino at a quaint coffeehouse, or browse through a funky used bookstore. Frequently these places have a wall with flyers promoting local band gigs or book club gatherings, so if those sound appealing, check them out!
4. Have your family/friends visit you. One surefire way to get over any homesickness is to arrange some quality time with your loved ones in your new environs. They'll get to share in your adventure, and their visit will give you something to look forward to! If your friends and family aren't staying in your free travel nurse housing, do a little research to find affordable accommodations nearby; then come up with great sightseeing events to do together. And be sure to introduce your loved ones to some of your new acquaintances.
5. Cook up some family recipes. Whipping up family favorites can honor memories of home. Invite some new nursing friends over, and you can all reminisce about the places you grew up and the types of traditions you enjoyed. You could even arrange for everyone to bring in a potluck item that best represents their hometown, and make it a festive event.
6. Plan travel nursing assignments where friends and family live. Having even one personal connection in your assignment city can go a long way toward helping you feel more connected and supported. Plan now to make your next assignment a time to remember with old college friends, rarely-seen relatives or other special people in your life.
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