Nurse gig workers have the freedom to choose when, where, and how much they want to work. With so much flexibility at their fingertips, it’s no wonder why at least 59 million Americans have participated in the gig economy. Furthermore, as staffing apps help streamline the process of matching qualified candidates with job openings, gig work is becoming a popular way to find work fast. Nevertheless, the growth of the independent workforce and the rise of social atomization have left some gig workers feeling isolated. Lacking opportunities for relationship building and daily interaction, the gig economy can contribute to feelings of loneliness and even depression. Despite these challenges, the shift away from traditional work is growing; moreover, gig work is proving to be a dream for many individuals who crave scheduling flexibility and self-autonomy. With that said, how can a gig worker avoid feeling isolated and find a strong support network? The key is building community. If you are a per diem nurse or a gig worker, here are a few tips that will help you stay connected and supported through your journey of independent work.
Looking After Your Mental Health as a Gig Worker
Gig work is an umbrella term for many types of independent jobs. It can involve sitting remotely in front of a computer as a graphic designer, writer, or virtual assistant. It can also involve driving an Uber, pet sitting, or making food deliveries. Within the healthcare sector, per diem nurses, or nurses that work for a medical facility on an as-needed basis, are also considered gig workers. Regardless of the type of work you do, one of the most important tasks you can assign yourself is checking in daily on your mental health. Using technology to your advantage by subscribing to mental health apps or by building an online network are both examples of how gig workers can find a sense of support within their communities. Therefore, we recommend the following self-care practices to help a gig worker, or per diem nurse, feel better connected to a community while working independently.
Find a Support Network Online
Finding a strong support network of like-minded people is a great way for a gig worker to feel part of a community. Gig workers can find this community online or in person, but as the digital era is increasingly becoming our new norm, more often than not, independent workers are turning to online platforms to find connections. These online support networks can include joining private groups on Facebook or subscribing to social networks that offer spaces to “join the conversation”. Additionally, online social networking can connect gig workers within the same profession. Per diem nurses, who cover shifts in various healthcare facilities around the country, may find joining a community board, where individuals can connect and learn from other nurses, to be a valuable tool in safeguarding their mental health. Essentially, online social networking plays an important role in keeping independent workers feeling validated, as well as emotionally supported, by their peers.
Using Mental Health Apps
Mental health apps are revolutionizing the world, especially for online remote workers. For instance, an individual no longer has to be in person at a specific time and place to receive mental health services. With that in mind, mental health apps are not reserved only for those suffering from severe mental illness. In fact, these apps are reshaping the way independent workers can seek out daily emotional support. In general, such apps are becoming a great tool for anyone looking to monitor and improve his or her mental health and wellness.
If you currently work as a per diem nurse, mental health apps, while they can’t diagnose or treat a mental condition, may help manage symptoms and alert you to seek professional help based on the symptoms you report.
Building Relationships in Person
While the digital age has stripped much of the workforce, especially remote workers, of flesh-to-flesh communication, fortunately, in-person professional meetups still exist. Gig workers can look for emotional support in a physical space by attending local meetups, joining a club, or volunteering for a cause. Online platforms that help people connect over shared interests and assist in physical meetups are great tools for fostering community; as a matter of fact, gig workers can join these communities by checking out local Facebook groups and a popular online platform called meetup.com.
In the end, it is important to keep in mind that face-to-face communication plays a pivotal role in maintaining the health and well-being of any individual working within the gig economy.
Maintaining Mental Stability as a Gig Worker
Gig work has its perks. The ability to set your own schedule and create space for more recreation outside of work are some pros of working in the gig economy. Moreover, some gig workers, including per diem nurses, may find that they make better pay while working on an independent basis. That being said, gig work can be alienating; therefore, feelings such as loneliness and depression are important for gig workers to be aware of.
As mentioned above, gig workers can maintain mental stability and well-being by investing in multiple social networks, both online and in person. If you're a gig worker, take care of yourself, including your mental health. Like in any job, relationship building, peer support, and a sense of being part of a community are all motivating factors to continue forward with your gig work. Oh, and by the way, if you weren’t sure already, you’ve got this!
What do you find are the pros and cons of working as a gig worker or per diem nurse? We love hearing from our community! Join the conversation and share all your tips for finding a strong social network as a per diem nurse below!