Importance of Self-Care for Nurses during Christmas Holidays

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Written by
Jenna Elizabeth
December 13, 2022

The holidays are a time to rejoice in tradition and family festivities and indulge in all the season’s treats. Hence, for many people, the holidays are a time of celebration and cheer. At the same time, for some individuals, the holidays can be daunting—bringing personal trauma and family estrangement to the surface. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) shows that 64 percent of people who already have a mental illness admit their conditions worsen around the holidays. Many factors can contribute to the holiday blues. These can include having to work on major holidays, the stress of planning get-togethers, and trying to keep in the spirit while you're at it. That said, the importance of self-care for nurses is even more significant, considering that most healthcare professionals will work long and busy hours during the holiday season. 

At the end of the day, maintaining emotional well-being will be the key to surviving the holidays. Therefore, if you are a nurse looking for some holiday self-care ideas, we have a few for you to review. Read on to find out how to reduce your nurse stress and beat the holiday blues with the following holiday self-care tips.

Why Should Nurses Practice Self-Care over the Holidays?

You have multiple holiday cards and party invitations pegged to your refrigerator—plus, your friends keep asking whether you will be working New Year’s Eve. If you were in any other profession, you could probably commit to a holiday party or three. But it just so happens that you’re a nurse, and working during the holidays as a nurse is not only common but generally required of most healthcare staff. That’s because hospital patient visits and admissions significantly increase over the holidays. As a result, the majority of nurses already expect to work through the holidays and miss out on social events and other holiday plans. It can be frustrating, but most nurses are used to working around the holidays, and some introverted nurses may even prefer it. In either case, it’s critical that nurses who are susceptible to seasonal depression or feel that they isolate around the holidays practice self-care. Moreover, if negative feelings become too overwhelming, nurses should reach out for professional help. That said, below are a couple of our best self-care tips on how to manage the holiday blues:

Holiday Self-Care Tips and Ideas for Nurses

Take a Break, Have a Snack 

Did you know that there is a direct correlation between diet and depression? Of course, you do! After all, it’s all the talk these days on social media about how sustaining good gut health is important in keeping the mind healthy—and studies prove it. As a matter of fact, one study showed that inadequate nutrition and poor food choices are associated with an increased level of sadness and anxiety. Consequently, nutrition plays a huge role in mood stability, and going extended periods without eating or nourishing your body with the right foods can have a detrimental impact on energy levels and mood. Therefore, if you are a busy nurse and want to beat the holiday blues, it’s a good idea to set yourself up with some nutritious pre-packed snacks for long nursing shifts

Stretch and Move Your Body 

We get it: Fitting in an exercise routine while working around the clock as a nurse isn’t always easy. But here’s the good news: Did you know that just a few minutes of brisk exercise a day can help burn calories, improve blood flow, and, yes, even help with sleep? So what are some quick exercises to get your blood flowing between shifts? Check out our list of the best exercises for busy nurses here. 

Mindful Meditation 

Alongside establishing a consistent exercise routine, meditation can do wonders for the mind—especially for nurses around the holidays. In fact, studies have shown that practicing mindful meditation can help prevent stress and burnout in the workplace. Plus, the best part about mindful meditation is that anyone can do it! All it takes is a couple of simple guided meditations that you can squeeze in between your nursing shifts. These guided meditations typically involve just a few simple steps: staying still, closing your eyes, and noticing your breath. You can also check out some more decompression self-care tips for nurses here.

Take a Mental Health Day 

Just because you are a nurse doesn’t mean you are required to pick up every extra shift you can around the holidays. In other words, if the pressure of the holiday season outside of work is already getting to you, adding more work to your plate won’t relieve your stress. In fact, working too much as a way to try and distract yourself from holiday anxiety may only exacerbate your situation and lead to nurse burnout. Therefore, if you are a nurse and feeling overworked, using a “sick day” to take a mental holiday is a great way to give your mind a break. Check out some more awesome tips for surviving the stress of working during the holidays. 

Connect with Friends or Join an Online Support Group 

Coping skills around the holidays can involve setting up a support system that you can reach out to when you are in crisis. Additionally, identifying a few close friends or family members you trust can help you feel connected and less isolated around the holidays. Furthermore, joining an online support group or subscribing to free mental health resources, such as podcasts and videos on mental health, may help take the edge off of the holiday rush. 

Self Care Is Head Care

While practicing holiday self-care tips may not get you out of family drama or your commitment to work several shifts as a nurse, it can help buffer your mental health. That is to say, implementing a few self-care tips can improve emotional well-being and relieve common nurse stress over the holidays. So what do you say? Tis’ the season to focus on prioritizing your mental health. 

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Jenna Elizabeth
Blog published on:
December 13, 2022

Meet Jenna, a contributing copywriter at Nursa who writes about healthcare news and updates, empathy and compassion for nurses, how to show staff appreciation and increase retention, and guides that help nurses navigate career pathways.

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