Are you a travel nurse that’s working during the holidays this year? If so, there are ways to prepare that will make your shifts a little more enjoyable.
We’ve created a list of tips for staying well-rested, organized, and content while juggling all those holiday responsibilities.
Read on for tips on how to remain healthy and happy while working this holiday season!
The holidays are busy, plain and simple. And if you’re working, it’s important to set expectations for your friends and family ahead of time.
Work with your supervisor to find out which shifts you’re working as soon as you can, and let your loved ones know when you’ll be available. Even if you can’t join their official gatherings, you can still celebrate the holidays a few days early or late.
Your friends and family may be disappointed that they can’t spend as much time with you this holiday season (virtually or in person), but be kind to yourself. Overloading your schedule will only create unnecessary fatigue and stress, which could negatively affect your physical and psychological wellbeing.
Check-In With Friends & Family
Holiday shifts can be extremely busy. However, simply checking in with your friends and family could add some much-needed joy to your day. Maintaining your emotional well-being will help you provide better care for your patients and help your holiday shifts go by quicker.
Another option is to think outside of the box and plan a holiday get-together with your family sooner or later than when these gatherings are traditionally held. This could be a great way to add some spontaneity and fun to your family traditions.
Make Time for Holiday Fun with Your Coworkers
Working during the holidays can add stress to your regular schedule, so it’s important to make time to laugh and enjoy yourself, no matter where you are.
Your coworkers are in the same situation, so think about planning some holiday activities with them. Or, do something spontaneous to spread some cheer around your unit.
- Playing “Elf on the Shelf”
- Plan a potluck with your favorite recipes
- Decorate your unit with coworkers
- Write your teammates letters of gratitude
- Add holiday accessories to your outfit
- Playing “Secret Santa” with coworkers
- Get a surprise “holiday treat” or Thanksgiving snacks delivered for your teammates
Find Purpose in Your Patients
The holidays are often about showing gratitude, compassion, and warmth toward our loved ones and those in need. If working during the holidays is bringing you down, try to find purpose and joy in caring for your patients.
Channeling your energy into nursing is a great way to stay focused and provide excellent care.
Develop a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Being well-rested is the most important part of staying healthy and on your game when you’re super busy or working long hours over the holidays.
While it can be difficult for shift workers to maintain a stable sleeping schedule, try to be as consistent as possible. This will make falling asleep and waking up much easier, and reduce your chance of crashing while you’re awake.
If you work nights, limit your use of electronics before bed and invest in blackout curtains to darken your room during the daytime.
Remaining open-minded about your new schedule will help you develop a routine that works. Once you’ve figured out which sleeping schedule works best for you, stick to it. Sleeping at irregular intervals will lead you to poor health, stress, and on-the-job mistakes.
If You Work Nights, Work Your Shifts Consecutively
If you can, try to schedule your night shifts consecutively. This will help you maintain a stable eating and sleeping routine, which will keep your energy levels high.
Working consecutive night shifts will also allow you to enjoy your days off, rather than spend them catching up on sleep.
Be Careful on Your Days Off
Although it may be tempting to change your schedule to suit your days off, be careful about disrupting your regular sleeping and meal schedules.
Staying awake for too long before starting your first shift of the week will disrupt your internal clock, negatively affecting your energy levels. Eating at irregular intervals prevents your metabolism from functioning efficiently and optimally.
Even though it’s the holidays, do your best to maintain your routine. Your body will thank you later.
Training and Education
There are lots of resources to help nurses who work long hours to thrive. Organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer online classes created by experts for professionals like you.
Night or long-shift training offers in-depth strategies for your professional and personal life intended to maximize your performance and minimize your stress levels.
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