It’s the most stressful time of the year — especially for healthcare professionals who have to work during the holidays. We’re offering up some helpful ways nurses can keep their spirits merry and bright throughout the busiest season of all.
9 Ways to Handle Holiday Stress
1. Stick to your routine.
The holidays are a hectic time of year, and everyone’s schedule gets a little erratic. Do your best to keep your routine as normal as possible so that you can better accommodate your work and family responsibilities. The last thing you want to do is skimp on sleep or miss meals in order to get everything accomplished, and you’ll only add to your stress level by doing so.
- Get organized.
Rather than throwing your hands in the air and surrendering to the stress of the holidays, get ahead of it by getting organized. Create a to-do list of everything you’d like to accomplish for the day, and think long-term by listing goals for each week or the month as a whole. You’ll feel much more prepared for the weeks ahead, and you’ll feel incredibly satisfied each time you check an item off your list.
3. Make time for yourself.
As a nurse, you’re well aware that stress can do a real number on a person’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. Get in touch with your preventative side by scheduling time to relax and unwind. Treat yourself to a few special holiday treats from you to you, indulge in your favorite recipes or plan a trip to your local spa for a massage or haircut.
- Don’t overextend yourself.
Simplify your life by any means necessary, even if it includes saying no to certain requests. Skip the mall in favor of online shopping, buy pre-prepared food, ask family members to contribute to the menu with their own holiday dishes or simply turn down an invitation or two if you’re feeling overwhelmed with obligations.
- Don’t overindulge.
While it’s great to pamper yourself in order to restore your inner peace, it’s also wise to avoid going too far with the season’s many indulgences. Be mindful of your eating to ensure that you’re getting proper nutrition, and enjoy sweet treats and savory temptations in moderation.
Also, limit your holiday spending to what’s comfortable for your budget. All too often, nurses who are stuck working holiday shifts try to compensate by spending more money on gifts for their loved ones. Spend what’s reasonable, but don’t hesitate to tell others when you can’t swing something. The holidays should be peaceful, and there’s nothing calming about racking up a lot of unnecessary debt.
- Get creative.
There’s no place like home for the holidays, and it’s important to spend time with those you hold near and dear. If you’re stuck working certain holidays or find yourself away from your loved ones due to the nature of your work, use technology to your advantage by staying connected via Skype, Facebook or Snapchat.
You may also want to celebrate on a different day of the week in order to accommodate your schedule. (For instance, many nurse who work Thanksgiving plan their Turkey dinners for Wednesday or Friday instead.) Flexibility can help you enjoy the holiday season without feeling like you’re having to make sacrifices due to your career.
7. Ask for help.
If the holidays have you down — or you’re feeling particularly stressed over work — don’t be afraid to confide in someone you trust. Ask co-workers how they effectively balance their home life with their work life during the holiday rush, or talk with your supervisor about scheduling a day or two off in the future for something to look forward to down the road.
- Make time to celebrate.
If you have to work over the holidays (and most healthcare professionals do), go the extra mile to make your workplace feel festive. If your coworkers are up for it, hang some decorations or listen to your favorite holiday music.
You can even celebrate in more subtle ways by swapping your regular cup of coffee out for a peppermint mocha or wearing a Santa Claus hat during your Christmas rounds. If possible, try to organize something for you and your fellow coworkers — whether it’s a toast on New Year’s Eve or a holiday potluck with your favorite seasonal foods.
- Remember the true meaning of the holidays.
While it’s easy to focus on your own hectic schedule this time of year, it’s so important to redirect your attention to your patients and their needs. Sure, you may have to work on Christmas Eve. But your patients are spending the holidays in a hospital room facing different kinds of medical issues and potential fears.
Channel your energy toward making the holidays better for them during their time of need. You’ll forget all about your own stress, and you’ll find your way back to what the season is all about.
How do you deal with holiday stress? Let us know in the comments!