The holidays are meant to bring feelings of joy and cheer, but this time of year can also bring a lot of stress. No matter what holiday you celebrate, this season can affect us all. Especially Nurses, who work in an already stressful environment, as you juggle more difficult demands of your time, emotions and patience.
Most people celebrate the holidays with family and friends at home, but you miss many holidays to take care of your patients. Having celebrations with your coworkers is nice, but nothing feels like home. Some families will try to move dates around so they can all celebrate together.
If you're missing holidays to treat patients, then those patients are missing out on their holiday celebrations too. Spreading extra holiday cheer can make you both feel some joy. Fortunately, you get to go home at the end of the shift.
Another stressor can be financial as people go crazy buying gifts and worry how to pay for them. Try not to overspend. Perhaps you’re crafty and can make some of those gifts.
The loss of loved ones is more difficult this time of year. In your profession, you witness the passing of patients and often you’re coping with your own feelings of loss as you try to console the family. Lean on fellow coworkers and managers to help relieve some of the stress. Don't hold it all in and try to get through it alone.
In colder climates, as the season changes to winter, many people are affected by SAD seasonal affective disorder. With less daylight, spending more time indoors and the sense of isolation it can bring, dealing with the cold, and extreme weather conditions, can be quite depressing unless… you love outdoor winter sports! To combat SAD, try light therapy, exercise, planning social get-togethers, talking to a mental health professional, or using medication to help lighten your mood.
The Mayo Clinic offers more tips to help with holiday stress.
- Acknowledge your feelings. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.
- Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events.
- Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.
- Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity.
- Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
- Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
- Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
At the end of the day, no one is going to be happy around you if you’re not happy. It’s so important to take care of YOU. We’ve offered some suggestions to help you deal with stress during the holidays. Now it’s up to you to choose what will work for you. Good Luck!
Happy Holidays, Peace and Joy from your friends at DiversityNursing.com!