How to get through the Holidays as a Nurse
There’s no denying the fact that it’s the holiday season. Whether that idea makes you want to jump for joy, never leave your apartment, or mend broken relationships, the holidays mean something different for every one of us. As a nurse, I have learned to plan around the mandatory holiday schedules that often allow little time to be spent outside of the hospital. Considered the “norm” for many healthcare professionals, we have perfected the “holiday hospital life,”to make it a little more bearable to work major holidays.
NOW is time to make the most out of your holiday season!
Day 1 – “Reschedule” Christmas Eve Dinner
There’s a 99.9% chance you will be scheduled to work at least one major holiday during the winter (if not two), but that doesn’t mean you “don’t” deserve to celebrate (fun fact: the only time I have not worked a major holiday was due to my supervisor forgetting to include my name on the schedule – amazing, right?). More often than not, hospital schedules are released months in advance so planning a Friendsgiving and/or Christmas Eve dinner is 100% possible. As my mom always told me, “The holidays are about who you are with and not what you are doing.”
Day 2 – Celebrate with Co-Workers
For many of us (including myself), coworkers are so much more than just “colleagues”. I have depended on my fellow nurses more times than I can count. In fact, other nurses have become more of my family – so why not organize a potluck (or if you’re lucky, enjoy a holiday meal provided by your employer)? I mean come on, we both know you didn’t want to commit to making an entire meal anyway…
Day 3 – Remember the “Spirit” of the Holidays
Simply put: DON’T be the Grinch! Yes, it may seem lonesome and even scary to be away from friends/family during this time of year, but it’s important to remember the holiday spirit and prioritize your patients’ needs. Be mindful that your patients are also spending their holiday(s) in the hospital, so your kindness and compassion is sure to make a difference. Perhaps you could even help decorate a patient’s room to spread some holiday cheer!
Day 4 – It Pays to Work on Holidays
There’s no doubt that your hospital offers some sort of incentive/monetary benefit for working major holidays such as: Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, etc. Working holidays is ideal for those who don’t necessarily look forward to this time of year, because in their minds, cranberry sauce is not nearly as sweet as a higher paycheck!
Day 5 – Make the Best of It
This time of year is the perfect opportunity to practice positivity and make the most out of a “less than ideal” situations. There are plenty of “positive things” to focus on while working during the holidays such as a slower work pace, a higher paycheck(s), and having the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of your patients.
Day 6 – SHOP! SHOP! SHOP!
Now we typically say that “money can’t buy love,” but sending presents to friends and family back home is the perfect way for a shopaholic to show their loved one(s) they are not forgotten. Not only is shopping a great way to stay busy during a cold winter, but the perfect gift can warm someone’s heart from over 1,000+ miles away. Find local treasures to send back home and use this opportunity to teach/show friends and family about where you are currently working. For example: Working in Wisconsin? Send the foodie on your list a variety of local cheeses. This will allow your loved one(s) to feel more connected to you without having to physically be near you.
Day 7 – Time to Start Your Own Traditions
Traditions are often what make the holidays extra special and being away from home can make it hard to carry out these traditions when working in a new environment. Take this time to build new relationships with the people around you and create new traditions! Whether you decide to host a Christmas party for your coworkers, bake cookies and deliver them to your neighbors, or decorate your patients’ rooms, a new tradition is sure to make your new home feel like “home”.
Day 8 – Focus on Shifts Not Gifts
If the holidays aren’t your thing, give a coworker the best gift of all and cover their holiday shift(s) so they can take advantage of family time. This is a special way to give a fellow nurse a gift that money cannot buy (and a great way to avoid awkward family dinners if this time of year is not your favorite).
Day 9 – Set the Scene
What better way to get into the holiday spirit than to decorate your work and home spaces accordingly? This effort could be as simple as adding a holiday tree and a string lights to the nurse’s station. This small step will help make you and your fellow nurses feel more at “home” while at the hospital.
Day 10 – Have an Extra Cheat Day!
Undoubtedly, it can be difficult to be away from family and friends during the holiday season, but there is no better way to combat this gloomy vibe than to enjoy an extra treat(s)! For some reason, all my troubles seem to disappear whenever I smell fresh buttered popcorn, making this snack the ultimate comfort food for me when I need it. With emotions running high during this time of year, add in an extra “cheat” day or treat(s)!
Day 11 – Time for a Digital Detox
Constantly scrolling through social media and seeing what you are “missing out” on back home will not help the loneliness feeling that inevitably comes when being away from your loved ones during the holidays. Take this time to turn off your phone, shutdown your computer, and become mindful. Taking a breather from social media can be good at any point during the year but stepping away from the constant reminders/notifications can be extremely helpful during this time.
Day 12 – Random Act of Kindness
Studies show that giving makes us even more happy than receiving. Take the extra step this holiday season to do something special for someone who really needs it. I have found that these gestures are what truly make the holidays so special!