Thanks to the 24/7 nature of medicine, there will always be medical personnel, from clinicians to environmental services, working on holidays. While there’s probably somewhere else you’d rather be on special occasions, not all is lost when working on the holidays.
We put together a list of seven ways to make the most of those holiday shifts.
Create Workplace Traditions
Traditions make the holidays memorable. Every year, we look forward to the food, festivities, and celebrations that accompany the season. For that reason, creating non-religious traditions and customs at work can add to the festive atmosphere.
Some ideas include hosting a workplace potluck where staff members bring their favorite holiday dish. Small gift exchanges, participating in a toy drive, or celebrating company culture by praising employees and their accomplishments throughout the year are also fun ways to make shifts more enjoyable.
Try to avoid making traditions mandatory, as that can add to holiday stress rather than contribute to the season’s joy.
Decorate Your Workspace
Bring winter fun inside and pay homage to all types of cultural celebrations with departmental decorations. You don’t have to go all out to deck the halls. Try simple things like setting desktop computer screensavers to holiday themes, holding a desk decorating contest, or ornamenting with small figurines and plants, like poinsettias.
Make Alternate Plans
Plan an alternate celebration if you know you’ll miss out on something festive with family and friends. Just because a particular event occurs on a specified date does not mean you can’t hold it on a different date or time. Making that change will give you something to look forward to, so you don’t miss out.
Typically, we think of the holidays as a time for getting together with others and gift-giving. When you’re working through these seasons, make sure to give yourself the gift of self-care by doing something special you enjoy. That can include bingeing on Netflix, spending time in nature, working on that passion project, reading a book, or taking a long, leisurely hot bath.
Splurge on something you’ve wanted to buy but have been too frugal to do so. Give yourself the gift of daydreaming about your future or plan that long overdue vacation. Whatever you decide, take time to shower yourself with affection and support.
Earmark Holiday Pay
One perk of working over the holidays is extra pay. Think about something special you can do to help motivate you and keep a positive perspective. Typically, it comes down to three options: invest, save, or spend. (Or you could do all three, depending on the amount.)
- Invest. You can put the extra funds into retirement or stocks, make an extra payment on a loan, or donate the money to a worthwhile cause.
- Save. Set up an account for next year’s holiday spending, put it toward your rainy-day fund, or add it to the account earmarked for future travel adventures.
- Spend. The extra pay might allow you to splurge on something you’ve had your eye on or help level up your gift-giving for someone else.
You’re not the only one missing out by working the holidays; co-workers and patients are struggling too. You can do something to encourage others; even just giving a card can raise both your spirits.
Being in the hospital over the holidays is especially tough for patients. If you’re feeling down, remember that the work you do means a great deal to them and their families. Your presence and the kindness you show is a gift they will long cherish and remember.
Focus on Quality
The time you spend with family and friends during the holidays may be limited. In that case, it becomes a matter of quality over quantity. Take advantage of the time you do have and be fully present. Plan or participate in enjoyable activities, make some memories, and schedule time for relaxation.
Although you may wish to be spending the holidays at home, think of the time spent with your “hospital family” as an opportunity to build bonds and develop a camaraderie that you may not otherwise when there is more staff, and things are busier.
Whether you bring food to the breakroom, decorate the department, or simply share cards or gifts, use this time to cherish the relationships you’ve built over the year and make some lasting memories.
From all of us at SCP Health, happy holidays!