Holly Carter / Tuesday, December 22, 2020 / Categories: Holiday and Traditions, Work World


It can be challenging not to celebrate holidays like most people, but nurses are needed every single day of the year. While most of the population is enjoying the day off, nurses help patients battling illnesses and injuries that also keep them away from their families. Some nurses notice feelings of loneliness and frustration creep up during holiday shifts. But OneStaff Medical has a few tips to help you make the most out of your holiday hospital nursing shifts.

1.Take Care of Yourself, Too

Being away from your family during the holidays can lead to stress and sadness. You spend all shift taking care of others. Practicing a little self-care can help make your shifts a little brighter. Here are a few of our favorite self-care ideas:

  • Wear comfy, cute socks during your shift.
  • Bring candy or other treats to snack on during your shift.
  • Laugh and joke with colleagues.
  • Take your scheduled breaks.

2.Talk to Your Family Early

Families often feel frustrated and express their unhappiness with their nurse family members about not spending holidays together. This frustration leads to stress for nurses—especially those just getting started with their careers. Nurses are generally pretty aware of the fact that they will have to work on holidays, but it is harder for family members who get holidays off to understand.

Discussing your schedule early with family may allow you to celebrate the holidays together on a different day, meaning you won’t miss out on all the family gatherings this holiday season. You might also be able to start new traditions, such as celebrating holidays on the following Saturday.

Missing out on holidays when you have young children can be incredibly hard. If you are a nurse with small children, it can be challenging to tell your kids that you have to work on Christmas or other holidays. However, you might be able to work with your team to be available on Christmas morning for your children.

Bonus Tip: Talk to your supervisor to see what kinds of celebrations you can have at the hospital while you are working. You might be able to have a festive meal or a small “party” while still providing care for your patients.

3.Work with Coworkers to Switch Shifts

Since holiday schedules are always made in advance, find out when you are supposed to work as soon as possible, so you can try to trade shifts with a colleague if necessary. While you don’t want to fight with your fellow nurses, you might be able to find someone to switch shifts with so that you can make it to your family holiday gatherings.

It is also important to note that each institution will have different rules for working holidays. At some facilities, groups switch off holidays, so you won’t be scheduled to work both Thanksgiving and Christmas. At other hospitals, if a holiday falls on a day you regularly work, you will be scheduled.

There are many different ways that hospitals handle holiday shifts, but you might still find someone to switch shifts with you if you are proactive. However, it is never a good idea to try to switch for every holiday. You should only try to switch shifts when you really need to or run the risk of irritating your coworkers.

It is also essential to be willing to switch shifts with others when they need it, and you don’t need the day off.

4.Make It Fun

Just because you are working doesn’t mean that you can have a good time. There is no reason that you can’t celebrate the holidays with your work family. If possible, find fun ways to celebrate, such as:

  • Organize a potluck meal
  • Plan a Secret Santa gift exchange
  • Decorate patients’ rooms
  • Sing carols
  • Hand out cards or treats

It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it brings you, your colleagues, and your patients joy.

5.Be Mindful of Your Patients

At the end of your shift, you get to go home; but not all of your patients will be so lucky. While you are at the hospital, you can try to lift their spirits. If you have time, you could offer to decorate their rooms or chat with them about their favorite holiday memories. Try to make the holidays special for your patients and their families. Work with the other nurses to do something special for all of the sick or injured people who are stuck in the hospital on the holiday.

6.Reach Out to Family During Breaks

We know how hard it can be to be away from your family on a holiday. Since it can be so hard to be at work, use your breaks to reach out to your family and friends. Call or video chat with your family at large gatherings to say hello. Comment on social media posts made by friends. Text to wish family and friends happy holidays. Use your break time wisely to keep in touch with those you love the most.

7.Know When to Ask for Help

The holidays are a busy time. Between buying and preparing food, purchasing decorations and gifts, and organizing a hectic schedule, it might be too much for just one person. Knowing when to ask for help can save you a lot of stress and help you feel more rested for your nursing shifts throughout the holiday season.

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