Sponsor banner

5 ways to make the most of your holiday nursing shift

5 tips for night shift success from the American Medical Association

Access to this AJC content is brought to you by our sponsor, Wellstar

The holidays are a time of anticipation, whether you're looking forward to opening gifts with your family or ringing in the New Year with your significant other. But since many nurses don't work a typical schedule, they often end up working while most people in other professions enjoy the day off.

» RELATED: 6 ways to stay energized during your nursing shift

Even though nurses choose their jobs because they want to care for others, working holiday shifts can be lonely and frustrating and leave you with FOMO — fear of missing out.

The following are some tips to help you make the most of your holiday nursing shift:

Have some fun

Just because you're working doesn't mean you can't manage to have a little fun.

Northside Hospital Cherokee has a longstanding tradition of having a potluck meal on the holidays, according to Beverly Hunt, the hospital's chief nursing officer. The hospital provides the meat to accompany the meal.

» RELATED: The 5 most common signs of nursing burnout

Practice self-care

Caring for yourself year-round can also be used to help insulate you from the holiday blues, Hunt said. The hospital has a self-care initiative that's geared toward resiliency in the workplace. It includes finding meaning in everyday work and making an uplifting connection with a patient as well as healthy habits such as exercising and choosing healthy foods.

"Laughter in the workplace is also an initiative," she explained. "This can be something as simple as bringing a joke to work or even bringing in Laffy Taffy candies."

Plan ahead

Nursingcenter.com suggested letting your family and friends know your holiday schedule and as far in advance as possible. That way, you may be able to celebrate the holiday a few days earlier or later. You'll still have fun and make memories, even if you're not celebrating on the actual holiday.

Work with your supervisor to determine what time you can have off while still making sure your shift is covered for the holidays.

» RELATED: How volunteering can help your nurse career (and where to start)

Cut back on some personal obligations

If you're working over the holidays, you may want to scale back on some personal obligations, according to nursingcenter.com. Try shopping online instead of fighting mall traffic or ask family members for help in preparing traditional holiday meals.

Figure out what's most important to you and what gives you joy and be willing to compromise on those tasks that you don't place as much value on.

» RELATED: 5 science-backed ways nurses can work on willpower

Be mindful of patients

You'll be leaving the hospital at the end of your shift, but your patients won't be discharged yet. Try to be mindful that they're spending the holidays in the hospital, and that can't be easy, ahsnursestat.com said.

Adopting a cheery attitude and asking patients if they'd like to have their room decorated or call a loved one can lift their spirits as well as your own.

About the Author