Life as a locum therapist is a bit different. Rather than seeing patients in the same location day after day, the locum is constantly changing locations with each new assignment. For some physical and occupational therapists, that means multiple locations in different states in any given year.
Such constant change can be difficult to manage at times. Working in so many different places can make it difficult for a therapist to establish a solid routine that promotes a healthy lifestyle. As such, locum therapists can find themselves neglecting their own health even as they work hard to improve the health of their patients.
Are you a locum physical or occupational therapist? If so, please make a concerted effort to take care of yourself. Below are five tips you can put into play immediately. You will recognize all of them because they are the same tips you give your patients.
1. Get Regular Exercise
We all know how important regular exercise is to good health. And yet, working as a locum can inhibit a regular exercise routine due to constantly changing surroundings. Do not let that be your story. Make a concerted effort to engage in moderate exercise at least several times per week.
For the record, a 2008 study that had followed 20,000 patients for more than 11 years revealed that people who exercise on a regular basis have fewer complaints of musculoskeletal problems, including chronic pain. Regular exercise helps your patients get better. It will also help you stay well.
2. Maintain a Healthy Diet
You are what you eat. Unfortunately, the locum lifestyle lends itself to poor eating habits. Why? Because it’s just easier to eat out than establish a home-cooking routine when you’re never in the same home for very long. Once again, don’t let that be your story. It does take a lot of effort to cook on the road, but the benefits of a healthy diet far outweigh any inconvenience. Make a concerted effort to stick to a healthy diet no matter what it takes.
3. Find Ways to Unwind
Your experience as a physical or occupational therapist has taught you that stress can be a big inhibitor to patient recovery. Well, it can also inhibit your well-being too. Rather than adopting a lifestyle that allows you to easily let all the stress build up inside, find an outlet. Find ways to unwind and relax no matter where you happen to be for a particular assignment.
4. Pursue a Life of Learning
Occupational and physical therapy patients are often encouraged to learn as much as they can about their own health. They are encouraged to learn about the physical conditions they are trying so hard to overcome. As the thinking goes, an educated mind is a healthy mind. The same principle applies to you.
As you travel, make a point of pursuing a life of learning. Exercising your mind with regular learning opportunities will keep it in tip-top shape. Some of your learning can be career related, but you can also pursue learning about other things that interest you.
5. Get Enough Sleep
Lastly, getting enough sleep is critical to both occupational and physical therapy outcomes. The body needs adequate sleep to repair itself, which is why you are constantly telling your patients to establish a good sleep routine and stick with it. You should follow that advice yourself. As best you can under constantly changing conditions, find ways to ensure you regularly get as much sleep as you need to stay healthy. Both you and your patients will benefit.