Holiday Shift Survival Guide: Tips for Nurses Working Holidays

Nurse stethoscope wearing hat with holiday gift box in Santa Claus red bag

A nursing career is truly a gift. However, when you think of the holidays, you probably imagine festive parties, cozy pajamas, and family traditions — not hospital hallways, nurse scrubs, and working long shifts.

Working during the holidays can be challenging, especially as a nurse. But by planning ahead to combat FOMO (the fear of missing out) and practice self-care, you can make the most of your holiday shifts.

Remember: Your presence is a gift. You make a difference in the lives of those you care for — just don’t forget to take care of yourself, too.

Overcoming Nurse ‘FOMO’ When Working During the Holidays

Looking at your holiday schedule and feeling the FOMO creep up on you? Here’s what nurses working holidays can do to find joy and peace during shifts (besides focusing on that extra holiday pay):

Remember the Power of Your Presence

The holiday season is all about giving. Patients in need of care during the holidays are often extra lonely. Your service and compassion are invaluable gifts, especially this time of year.

When working during the holidays, take time to connect with your patients on a personal level. A simple “How are you today?” can bring comfort and warmth to patients in need of hope.

Don’t forget to spread the holiday spirit to your colleagues, too. Share stories, check in, and use this time to grow closer. You’re in this together.

Find Ways to Celebrate When Working During the Holidays

Who says nurses working holidays can’t celebrate?

Bring a touch of holiday cheer to your unit by wearing simple holiday accessories, bringing cards to your patients or colleagues, or participating in holiday team parties.

Wish your patients and colleagues a “Happy Holidays!” to spread comfort and joy.

Keep in Touch with Loved Ones

It can be difficult working during the holidays instead of spending it with those you love most.

If possible, schedule a special gathering with loved ones on a day off adjacent to the holiday. This way, you can still enjoy quality time together.

If you’re a travel nurse or are far from friends and family, arrange virtual celebrations and catch-ups. Video chat while sharing a meal or engaging in a fun holiday tradition to feel connected even from a distance.

Embrace your favorite holiday traditions, even if you have to adapt them. Whether it’s baking cookies, watching a movie, or singing carols, find ways to keep the spirit alive, even if it’s a few days early or late.

10 Self-Care Tips for Nurses Working Holidays

You’ve dedicated your entire career to taking care of others. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. Recharge your own batteries so you have the energy to bring your light to others during the season.

Nurses working holidays know this time of year can be stressful, especially when there’s a shortage of staff or increases in patient population.

Through it all, here’s what you can do to take care of yourself when working during the holidays:

Take Regular Breaks

Remember to take breaks to recharge, both during and after your shifts. If there’s a slow moment during your shift, step outside for some fresh air or find a quiet spot to relax and regroup.

After working during the holidays, allow yourself to rest. Give yourself permission to cross unnecessary items off your to-do list. It’s all about finding balance.

Prioritize Your Mental Health

Nurses working holidays know it can often be emotional or stressful. Allow yourself time to process your experiences and take care of your mental health.

Use YouTube to find guided mindfulness, meditation, or deep breathing exercises to center yourself. Don’t hesitate to seek support if you need it.

Stretch Out and Release Tension

Working on your feet all day? Take time to release any stress and tension from your body. Practice light stretches or take short walks on your days off.

Opt for gentle exercises like yoga, Pilates, walks, and stretches. Regular exercise helps relieve muscle tension and promotes relaxation.

Stay Hydrated and Nourished

Proper nutrition and hydration are essential for maintaining energy levels, especially for nurses working holidays. Monitor your energy levels with the same level of care as you do your patients’. Pack healthy snacks and a water bottle to stay hydrated throughout your shift.

Use the Power of Meal Prep

For most nurses working holidays, the last thing you want to do is cook and clean when you get back. Do your future self a favor and meal-prep nutritious meals and snacks in advance.

Aim for a balance of protein, fiber, and healthy fats to sustain you through long shifts.

Here are some ideas!

Create a Post-Shift Recovery Ritual

Allow yourself to mentally ‘clock out’ by establishing a post-shift recovery ritual. Make a habit of taking a warm bath, doing some gentle stretches, winding down with a book, or drinking a warm cup of herbal tea. Help your body signal that it’s time to wind down, especially when working during the holidays.

Get Enough Sleep

Remember the self-care basics! Ensure you get enough sleep between shifts. Establish a calming bedtime routine to help you unwind and get your 8 hours.

Set Healthy Boundaries

Know your limits and communicate them to your team. It’s okay to ask for help or delegate tasks when needed. When you’re off work, shift your focus and allow yourself to put work aside for the rest of the day.

Stay Connected

Set aside time for regular check-ins with friends and family. A quick call or message can provide you that much-needed boost of emotional support when working during the holidays.

Unplug for a While

Dedicate a portion of your day to disconnect from screens and technology. Swap the scroll for activities that allow you to be present in the moment. This is especially helpful for nurses working holidays, helping you let go of the FOMO that comes with social media.

Find the Magic in Working During the Holidays with CareerStaff

The best way to survive the holidays as a nurse? Make sure you have a nursing career you love. And at CareerStaff, we can help you find nursing jobs across the country with top pay, benefits, and work-life balance! Fill out a quick application to get started.

Interested in travel nursing? Apply to our Holiday Bonus Program for travel nurses and earn up to $1200* for working during the holidays!

Find Your Next Holiday Shift