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Keep staff (and yourself) merry while working over the holidays


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by Lawrence Underwood, RN

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ..." Everywhere you go, you are bombarded by the sights and sounds of the holidays. While walking into work, you may see wreaths, holly, and hear Christmas music. Though it is a time when we should be in high spirits, people seem to get upset a little bit quicker.

If new graduate nurses staff your unit, this may be the first holiday season they have to work. Such is life when you're at the bottom of the totem pole. Chances are some of your seasoned nurses are filling in some schedule gaps, too. And, maybe even you will spend a chunk of the holidays at your facility. But, the season does not have to be ruined:

  1. Get enough sleep. This is especially important if you or staff work evening shifts. You may have to turn down some holiday party invitations, but your body will thank you. Explain to friends and family that you may have to come late or reschedule holiday events for times that work for you.
  2. Shop and wrap before December 24. Christmas is around the corner, but 'tis better to do your shopping and wrapping early on, than save it all for Christmas Eve. Spread it out so the task isn't daunting and mail packages as early as you can.
  3. Seek ways to celebrate the season. Attend a church production, scope out places to volunteer, or simply relax at a local ice skating rink with a mug of hot cocoa. Don't get burned out on the sentiment of the season.
  4. Bring cheer to work on Christmas. It is general unit tradition on my floor for everyone to bring in some simple food item, a favorite Christmas CD, and a Christmas story. We listen to music, pick at food, and talk about the holiday.
  5. Don't be quick to judge patients or family members. Seasonal depression is alive and well. On top of all the other holiday stress, many people deal with changes in their health. Be understanding and compassionate, but don't allow others to treat you rudely.

Hopefully, this holiday season finds you all well and healthy. Just remember why you do what you do and Merry Christmas to all!