5 tips for managing holiday stress that every nurse should consider

Stress can come from anywhere, whether it is the challenge of delivering high quality care, managing your personal finances or anything in between. And around the holidays, feeling anxious or overwhelmed can make it difficult to celebrate the spirit of the season.

By following these holiday stress tips, you can make sure you're merry and bright through New Year's and beyond. Here's what you need to know:

1. Build a schedule
It's always helpful to plan out your schedule a few weeks in advance, but around the holidays this can be especially crucial. Work with a supervisor to identify which days you'll have off so you know when you can go shopping, wrap presents or do any other preparation. Likewise, circle a few dates to set aside for ice skating, watching a favorite movie or enjoying any other cherished traditions. Doing this is a proactive way to ensure you have the right work-life balance during this busy time of year.

2. Be mindful
A well-crafted plan ensures you have time to do all the things you love, but holiday stress can still be present. This pressure can undermine your ability to keep a cool head and make work a more difficult experience. Part of the problem can be ignoring the problem altogether.

It's essential to acknowledge any holiday blues. That's the advice of Patricia Reily, MSN, RN, the director of the Brigham and Women's Hospital Caring and Healing Modalities Program and Teresa Buchanan, RN, MBA and project manager for the HCHM program. They explained that you may find your work more mentally taxing this season and neglecting any extra stress can worsen the issue. Be honest and mindful about how you are feeling.

Holiday stress management can limit how often you feel upset or anxious.Holiday stress management can limit how often you feel upset or anxious.

3. Take time for yourself
Stress can lead not only to anger or irritability, but can also cause you to feel physically sick. While you build a schedule for yourself, find opportunities to relax with a mug of hot cocoa or catch up on some sleep. A little relaxation will make the entire season more enjoyable and make it less likely you over-extend yourself.

4. Ask for help
Your co-workers, friends and family members are great resources when it comes to managing holiday stress. These people can give you gift ideas, help you arrange any travel concerns and support you with any other logistics during the season.

Likewise, holding on to negative feelings can make your stress even worse. Find someone you trust and voice your concerns or anxieties. This can not only feel therapeutic but also will remind you that you're not alone with your stress.

5. Find ways to celebrate 
Feeling like you're missing out on holiday fun can make you feel more stressed or upset. If your schedule makes it difficult to celebrate outside of work, look for appropriate ways to spread holiday cheer during a shift. Keep a few candy canes in your work bag to give to younger patients, fill out holiday cards during your breaks and fill your music library with some festive tunes. Along with staying mindful and proactive about any stress, focusing on the spirit of the season can keep you happy and healthy.

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