Working the holidays

Enjoy the holiday, even when you work.


Working the holidays?  Have the holidays have lost their luster?  Traditions, holidays and parties make our lives special.   They are a necessary activity for healthy nurses to participate in.  But, we give them up, or at best squeeze into them at the last minute – out of breath and exhausted, as if just barely showing up is good enough.

If you are working the holidays, you will have to find a way to put the joy back into your day.  There are several things you can make it through.  The good news is that you will enjoy it better if you plan ahead.

An important part of your holiday is food preparation. There are many supermarkets and restaurants that sell quality pre-made food. Using these give you a chance to make only your star dishes.   Also, you can also teach older children or family to cook part of the meal.  Or, you may want to cook ahead, and freeze or refrigerate items.  If you are working an especially long shift, you may want to eat out.

Little touches are important.    Don’t forget to decorate the table, and add some nice music.  If eating out, bring items to put on the table to personalize your time.  Don’t worry what other people think; most of them will be jealous.   I have brought a table cloth, candles, and ornaments, and decorated my table.  Many people came by and commented on how nice my table looked, and wished they had the foresight to do the same.

Dress up, and wear makeup even if you have to pack your clothes and change at work.  Always dress for your special days.  It gives you a much needed emotional boost when you look in sync with the holiday.

Documentation is not only important at work, but during your holiday.  Take pictures, videos and keep mementos.  Write in a book or on your computer how it all went down.  You will be glad you did, later when you have enough energy to review it.  You can then create the memory books that you and your family will enjoy year after year.

Consider that even if you had a couple days off, you may still feel stressed during the holidays, so while feeling no stress is an achievable goal, most of your stay at home friends and neighbors are still feeling stress trying to get their long lists done.  Don’t waste your emotional energy comparing the perky energetic people who may have shown up at your party or fest.  Pat yourself on the back, relax, and ask them do a little serving and management for you.  Your job, now that you have arrived is to relax and enjoy.

A lot of nurses will celebrate either ahead of / or after the holiday.  Many are happy with that, and in many ways it can make you feel special to be celebrating against the traditional day.  I would however recommend doing this as a last resort, as a lot of people report this just makes them feel more out of sync with the society.  But, if you are working a 16 hour shift, it isn’t always appropriate to celebrate Christmas with your young children at two in the morning.

It may be too late for this year, but consider the best alternative for next year.  It is important that you schedule your holidays off now for next year.  Pull out your new calendar and mark out your work schedule, and your paydays.  That way you will be able to see quickly what days you need off.  Consider birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and weddings. Request them off now – January 2nd.  Don’t wait until someone else beats you to the day you want.

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