As nurses we often focus on taking care of others. At the holidays it’s important to take a few moments to also think about how we can take care of ourselves.
I’m a diabetes educator, so “surviving the holidays,” as you might imagine, is a common conversation. What about nurses? Holiday time is stressful for nurses as well. Like diabetes, nurses’ work doesn’t let up no matter what day it is.
Some ideas for self-care at the holidays include getting some physical activity. Going for a walk can do wonders for clearing the mind, helping with stress, and balancing out any extra holiday calories!
Speaking of calories, many patients/families give nurses food platters during the holiday season. While this is a very kind and thoughtful gesture, another idea is to ask patients and their families to consider a donation to a chosen charity. Perhaps nurses could decide on a charity and post a sign on the unit about making a contribution rather than giving gifts or food to the nurses.
Another strategy is taking time for gratitude. Starting our day with gratitude can help us focus and stay positive. Many people find giving back at this time of year very rewarding. Ways to do that may include serving food to those in need; donating to groups that collect holiday gifts for children, families and the elderly; coat drives; and many other opportunities.
Taking care of ourselves also means accepting ourselves – our strengths and weaknesses, successes and areas for improvement. If we do indulge in high calorie treats, or if we don’t make time for exercise, it doesn’t help to beat ourselves up or say “if only” or worse yet, to “should” on ourselves. Instead, we can say “next time,” and move on.
Let’s enjoy the special moments – with patients, with family and friends, and with ourselves. I hope nurses everywhere have a joyous holiday season. At this time of year (and always) I am grateful to be a nurse and to count all of you as colleagues in this important work we do.