5 Tips for Nurses to Beat the Holiday Shift Blues

5 Tips for Nurses to Beat the Holiday Shift Blues

By Melissa Hagstrom, contributor

There’s no place for grinches in the workplace, but every nurse who has worked a holiday shift understands that it’s easy to let the “bah humbug blues” creep in during this time of year.

Whether you traditionally celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, or another special holiday, savoring the joys of the holiday season just takes a little bit of mindfulness, planning and, most of all, a festive spirit. Regardless if you are a travel nurse working away from home or a staff nurse looking to get the most out of working holiday shifts, we have some great tips to keep you in the holiday spirit.

So shake off those blues, get creative, round up some friends, and get ready to rock around the nurses’ station this holiday season!

Nurses working holidays: 5 tips to keep it festive

1. Bust out those holiday decorations

One of the easiest ways to beat the holiday blues is to embrace the season. What easier way to do that than to put up some holiday decor!

Jackie Nelson, senior recruitment manager at Onward Healthcare, advises nurses to decorate both at home and at the workplace (if your unit allows it). Some facilities have stricter guidelines than others, but decorating can include the nurses’ station, break room or another non-clinical area. You can pick up affordable decorations at the dollar store and don’t be afraid to get creative.

Ask your colleagues to bring in a favorite picture from a past holiday and hang it up in a central location -- this brings a sense of nostalgia and can even promote communication and connection among the team.

2. Practice self-care

Self-care looks different for everyone. For some, a run in the park is the best form of self-love while others may crave a massage, pedicure or skin care service. Whatever your calling, showing yourself some love this holiday season can be just what the doctor ordered to beat the blues.

“Treat yourself,” Nelson said. “Make some plans and decide what you are going to do with your holiday pay! Maybe a special weekend away or a trip to your favorite store for your own gift.”

Each city or town will have its own unique celebrations, as well, ranging from craft and food festivals to boat parades, so seek out some new experience to enjoy with a fellow nurse—or just for you.

3. Focus on others

As a nurse, you’ve already dedicated your professional career to helping others, but sometimes re-focusing on your patients is the best way to distract yourself if you find feelings of loneliness or homesickness coming on during the holidays.

“Nurses and patients obviously would rather be at home with their families on a holiday, but try to remember and realize as a nurse what a difference you can make in the life of a patient, especially during the challenges of hospitalization,” Nelson said.

“It can really make a huge difference in their day by giving out holiday care and spirit. Wearing something (hospital allowable) holiday themed can help you as a nurse and the hospital patient feel the care that nurses bring. You as their nurse can be the reason they are able to get through their day.”


4. Organize a holiday party

Pick a date on your calendar and celebrate the season! Everyone can enjoy getting together after work with their colleagues, especially if they have to work holiday shifts. In addition, travel nurses may want to set up something via video conferencing with friends and family to stay connected back home. (If you are close enough to commute, some family dinners or celebrations can even be rescheduled so you can be there in person.)

To get everyone in the holiday spirit, play some festive music (Spotify has an awesome collection of holiday-curated classics) and have everyone bring in their favorite holiday treat, whether store-bought or homemade. You may suggest ugly Christmas sweater attire, or encourage everyone to get dressed up. You can do a fun gift exchange, or not. All that matters is taking some time to enjoy yourself while reinforcing your relationships with the most important people in your life.

5. Give back

Countless studies have shown the mind-boosting benefits of giving back to others. “If you have any spare time, volunteer at a shelter or your favorite charity,” Nelson concluded. “There was a reason you became a nurse and helping others on or off the clock is proven to be a huge mood elevator.”

Raise money for a 5k race that gives the proceeds to your favorite cause, volunteer at a local homeless shelter, or collect toys for kids in need… the options are endless this holiday season.

Onward Healthcare is booking travel nursing assignments for the winter holidays and beyond.

APPLY TODAY to connect with one of our friendly recruiters.

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