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6 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays as a Busy Nurse

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Updated August 29, 2022 · 3 Min Read

Holidays can be demanding for overworked and busy nurses. Check out six tips that can help you celebrate without the stress.
6 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays as a Busy Nurse
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The holidays are one of the busiest times of the year, personally and professionally. Family and friends demand more of your time. Then there's the shopping, cleaning, and cooking, not to mention gift buying and wrapping.

Phew! A host of commitments can tie up your time and resources during the holiday season.

On top of that, if you're a nurse, there's a high chance you'll be working during part of the holidays this year. While that holiday pay can be nice, having less time for family or holiday prep isn't great. Here are six tips to make the holidays a little brighter and a little less stressful.

6 Holiday Tips for Nurses With a Busy Schedule

Merchants and shopping experts have recommended that people shop early for their Christmas gifts this year. Problems with logistics and ships backed up at unloading docks around the country have created shortages on the retail shelves. This may have only added to your stress. It may feel impossible to manage your responsibilities at home and work effectively.

In other words, you may feel like you're completely losing any sense of work-life balance. However, while challenging, it is possible to appreciate the season of joy. With just a little planning and preparation, your hours at work and home can be entertaining and memorable.

1. Prioritize Your Favorite Traditions

Traditions can give us a feeling of stability, family, and joy. Growing up, your family had its favorite traditions. You may have developed your own traditions that you enjoy most about the holiday season. But, when you're strapped for time, it's important to identify what's most important about the holidays and focus on that.

Start with a vision of what the end of the season will look like for you. As you imagine coming to the close of the year, feel the joy and peace you'll experience by creating what you want for yourself and your family.

If you enjoy holiday food the most, concentrate on cooking and baking while simplifying holiday decorations. Or maybe you enjoy decorating and creating specially wrapped Christmas ornaments every year. In that case, streamline the cooking and baking and consider premade meals or take out. That way you'll have more energy for what you enjoy.

With a busy schedule, you just can't do it all. Remember to be flexible and selective to get the results you want.

2. Ask for Help When You Need It

Nurses strive for excellence. It's part of the job and necessary when you hold people's lives in your hands. However, perfectionism can lead to depression, emotional stress, and nurse burnout.

If you struggle with perfectionism throughout the year, it may get worse during the holiday season. Job and family responsibilities can leave you with too little time. Add to that the expectations of decorating, baking, shopping, and holiday parties, and suddenly sleep becomes a thing of the past.

It can be difficult to let go of control of the things that you enjoy doing or feel you need to do. However, there are some significant benefits to delegating tasks or asking for help.

Make a list of what needs to get finished through the holiday season. Check off the things that you know you need to complete. Now it's time to delegate the rest of the list to others in your family.

People enjoy giving to others. When your family can help you put together a wonderful holiday celebration, they will have given you a gift.

3. Decorate Your Workspace

Get permission from your unit manager to decorate your workstation over the holidays. Creating an air of peace and joy can help your colleagues and the patients and families who visit the unit.

The decorations don't have to be expensive. For instance, if you work in a pediatric hospital, it can be fun for the children to help decorate the nurses' station. If you have a pediatric unit in your hospital, the child life specialist may make decorations a project for the children. Just take care to decorate with unbreakable ornaments and keep all objects away from areas where children may reach.

4. Plan to Celebrate When It Works for You

When your schedule requires that you work the holidays, you'll need to be flexible with your family celebrations.

  • If your family normally opens gifts on Christmas morning, but you can't be there, consider moving your tradition to Christmas Eve.
  • If your Christmas meal is normally held on Christmas Eve, consider moving it to the evening of Christmas Day.

There are ways to be flexible and plan your family celebrations around your work schedule so that everyone is involved and included. When you're working on the holiday, be mindful that there are patients who also want to be home with family and friends.

They may also enjoy celebrating with you. You may find that the little things you can do to lift patients' spirits will also help lift yours. Ask if they would like the room decorated or spend some time with them talking about their happy memories of holidays in the past.

5. Organize a Secret Santa

One of the classic traditions of Christmas is gift giving. The tradition of Secret Santa goes back many years. Secret Santas are a wonderful way of reducing the stress of shopping and buying for many people over the holidays. It also keeps things fun and surprising.

If you're not sure how to organize a Secret Santa with your friends and family or with your colleagues at work, consider Elfster. It's a Secret Santa app that simplifies the process and makes shopping even easier. Everyone in your Secret Santa group downloads the app and inputs their data, and the app generates the list. Now everyone can enter gift ideas for nurses into the app based on your group's purchase limits, and the app keeps the information a secret.

6. Be Transparent With Friends and Family About Your Needs

The holiday season is stressful enough without miscommunication between friends and family. There will be times when your schedule doesn't line up with your obligations. You may have to work during your best friend's party, or you may have two parties in one night.

To avoid any hurt feelings and problems, be transparent about your schedule and your ability to celebrate. There may be nights when you're just too tired to go out, or you'll arrive late because of work.

You will likely receive grace and understanding when you communicate this upfront. It also reduces the need for apologies and explanations later.

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