Making the Most of Holiday Nursing Shifts

December 14, 2017


For many people, the holiday season is the perfect time for some much-needed R&R… but healthcare workers are in demand year-round. If you’re stuck working while everyone else is celebrating, these tips can help you find a silver lining.

How Nurses Can Make the Most of the Holidays

1. Make some plans.

Holiday shifts are usually lined up pretty far in advance to help nurses plan their schedules accordingly, so use this to your advantage. If you know you’ll be working Christmas Eve and Christmas, see if you can celebrate on a different day with family and friends.

You can still enjoy the festivities, see your loved ones and stick to your family traditions, and you won’t feel like you’re making quite as big of a sacrifice.

2. Be prepared.

The holiday season comes with its own special concerns for patients, as well. Nurses working holiday shifts are smart to pay close attention to their patients’ moods, emotions and overall well-being.

Indulgent foods can lead to diabetic complications for some, while holiday cheer can get replaced by depression for others. Be aware of these factors so that you can respond to them quickly and efficiently.

3. Celebrate at work.

One of the best ways to actually enjoy your holiday shifts is by organizing a work party. Your coworkers are like family, and they’re feeling just as anxious about covering the holidays as you are.

Whether you play some holiday tunes, host a Christmas potluck or arrange a small gift exchange, these little acts can make a big difference in everyone’s mood while boosting the entire team’s morale.

4. Stay connected.

Just because you’re stuck at work doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected with your nearest and dearest. Modern technology has made it so much simpler to reach out to those you love, so make plans to Skype or communicate through social media during your work breaks.

It’s also a great idea to bring the holidays into your workspace as much as possible. Hang some lights at the nurses’ station, or put up a tree. Just be mindful that not everyone celebrates the same way, so check with your coworkers to ensure that you’re being inclusive.

5. Give yourself a break.

Let’s face it: The holidays are stressful even if you don’t have to work. From hosting parties and house guests to cooking enormous feasts, it’s hard to manage everything this time of year.

Do yourself a favor, and cut back on your holiday responsibilities in any way you can so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. Shop online rather than running to different stores, serve pre-prepared food rather than cooking from scratch or buy gift cards instead of trying to shop for specific presents for everyone on your list.

  1. Don’t go it alone.Similarly, don’t hesitate to ask others for a little help this time of year. Ask coworkers to pitch in when you need an extra hand, and see if your family and friends can help with holiday tasks.

While you’re at it, don’t be afraid to reach out to your manager as needed. Senior leadership should always be available to their nurses, whether it’s a holiday or not.

  1. Practice self-care.

Nurses spend their lives looking out for others, and it’s important that you extend that same consideration to yourself. Buy yourself something special, schedule a spa treatment and celebrate your time off as you see fit.

  1. Look at the big picture.

With all the holiday madness, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture: your patients. They’re spending their holidays away from their families, too — and they’re dealing with medical issues on top of it all. For many, interacting with you is their only source of holiday cheer. Focus on making their lives brighter, and offer them the kindness and compassion they deserve.

Working the Holidays? Focus on the Positives

Still not convinced? Here are five reasons to appreciate the holiday work:

  1. You get to escape family drama. You know the situations well: political debates, long-held grudges, sibling rivalries. Sure, you absolutely adore your family — but the holidays are known as a stressful time of year for a reason.2. You’ll score holiday pay. Most nurses get paid time-and-a-half or more as a thank-you for working holiday shifts, so you can feel good about earning some extra income.3. You get to bond with your co-workers. Maybe you love them. Maybe you just tolerate them. Whatever the case, your co-workers have a direct impact on your job. The holidays are a fantastic opportunity to built rapport and strengthen your bonds.
  2. You can be flexible. Nurses usually have more flexibility than other professionals thanks for their extended shifts and longer free-time between work days. You may be able to work three days during a specific holiday and then earn four days off, which lets you have adequate time for scheduling festivities.
  3. You’re making a difference. At the end of the day, you’re giving up your holidays in order to help those in need… and isn’t that the true meaning of the season?

How do you make the most of your holiday nursing shifts? Keep the conversation going in the comments section below!

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