How to Beat the Holiday Shift Blues

December 10th, 2014 by

working the holiday shiftIt’s that time of year again. The hustle and bustle of holiday parties, shopping ’til you drop and of course, eating ’til you’re stuffed. But most of all, the holidays represent a time for bonding with family; shared moments to celebrate traditions and make new memories.

We also know that healthcare facilities are open for business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And while we wished that everyone was happy and healthy at home with their own families, the reality remains that healthcare workers must staff these facilities.

So annually, the dreaded holiday schedule makes its way around the unit, and the planning begins months before the holiday season approaches. No matter what the staffing policies are in your facility, the fact is most nurses will work a holiday shift at some point during their career.

So How do You Combat the Holiday Shift Blues?

Well, start by planning wisely. Plan time for family, shopping, cooking, wrapping and don’t forget to pencil in some time for yourself. Pamper yourself with a massage, pedicure, good book or even just a nap! Holidays can prove to be a stressful time of the year, so scheduling time for yourself can make all the difference.

It’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of giving, but resist the urge to over commit. Keep your obligations within a manageable range, in order to leave time for holiday preparations, events and relaxation.

When work obligations require you to report on the actual holiday, organize your day to allow even just a few minutes with your family. Hugs can provide the love and encouragement required to get through the day and combat loneliness. If your family does not live nearby, utilize Skype to catch up with holiday festivities. Prepare yourself a to go plate, or have someone special deliver it to the unit, so you don’t miss out on Grandma’s casserole or Aunt Sylvia’s pie.

Even if you’re planning a pot luck party at work, having a slice of home on a holiday is comforting. Get into the spirit of the occasion by adding some festive accessories and a smile to your scrubs. Your patients want to be there even less than you wanted to work on the holiday. Help them acknowledge the season by adding some festive flair and decorations around the unit.

Keep in mind that we often spend an incredible amount of time and survive stressful situations with our co-workers, making them feel like our second family. So remember to treat them with extra kindness. Bake a special dish, gift them with chocolates or coffee, or even monitor their patients so they can enjoy an extra long break with their feet up!

Despite the sadness of missing the holiday with loved ones and the stressors that the season brings, one benefit of working a holiday shift is the extra income. In addition, usually when working a major holiday, you accrue a holiday in your vacation time for each shift worked. You can utilize this extra time and money to plan a family celebration or trip on a non-traditional date.

After all, the reason for the season is not just a date for celebration, but a time to join together as a family, re-connect, celebrate traditions and enjoy our love for one another.

Happy Holidays!

About the Author:

Cynthia MacDonald

Cynthia MacDonald has been a registered nurse for 17, with most of her clinical background focused in pediatric and neonatal intensive care. She has worked in hospitals and also extensively as an agency nurse traveling locally to hospitals in order to fulfill staffing needs, both per diem and on a contract basis. This provides her with a wide base of knowledge and experience on how area hospitals operate their units, and also how different doctors practice. She enjoys working with children and babies on a daily basis, and also interacting with their families during a time of crisis, making their stay as pleasant as possible.

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