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8 Self-Care Tips for Holiday Shifts in Healthcare

December 19, 2023

The holidays are a time for joy, spending time with loved ones, and festive cheer. But for healthcare workers, the season can also bring long hours, emotional strain, and missed traditions. While you’re busy caring for others, it’s crucial to remember to care for yourself. You’re in the trenches, battling holiday chaos and patient needs. Let’s be real—these shifts are demanding. But fear not, with some self-care strategies and proper preparation, you can not only manage these demanding shifts but also make the most of the moments dedicated to caring for others.

1. Plan and Prepare for Shifts

Outsmart the chaos. Meticulous planning isn’t just about schedules— it’s a preemptive weapon to fight stress. Each step you take to feel more preapared for your holiday shift frees your mind to deliver your best care, focused and unruffled.

  • Create a detailed work schedule encompassing both professional obligations and personal commitments.
  • Compile necessary work essentials and personal items beforehand to streamline the transition between work and personal life.
  • Anticipate potential challenges during shifts and develop contingency plans.
  • Organize transportation and childcare arrangements in advance to alleviate last-minute stressors.
  • Utilize technology tools or apps to assist in organizing schedules and managing tasks efficiently.
  • Prepare healthy meals or snacks in advance to ensure proper nutrition during shifts.

2. Take Mini-Breaks to Relax Your Mind & Body

Inhale calm, exhale chaos. Deep breathing and stretching work wonders in reducing the body’s stress response on a physiological level, effectively recharging your energy and enhancing your focus. Even amidst your hectic days, staying mindful might seem challenging, yet intentionally allocating a moment for a deep breath or a light stretch between patients can yield significant benefits. Incorporating these simple practices into your routine can make a substantial difference in your overall well-being and productivity.

  • Practice deep breathing exercises or mindfulness techniques during short breaks to reduce stress.
  • Incorporate quick stretching routines to relax muscles and alleviate tension.
  • Use relaxation apps or guided meditation sessions to promote mental clarity and focus.
  • Engage in brief moments of laughter or light-hearted conversations with colleagues.
  • Take short walks outside to enjoy fresh air and clear the mind.
  • Listen to calming music or nature sounds to create a soothing environment.

3. Prioritize Nutrition and Hydration

Fuel your fire, not your fatigue. Eating well and staying hydrated are are crucial to navigate the chaos that comes with holiday shifts, or any shifts for that matter. These basics are your fuel—they keep your energy up and your mind sharp. Getting the right nutrients and staying hydrated isn’t just about physical stamina; it’s about being better equipped to handle whatever comes your way during your work hours.

  • Pack nutrient-rich snacks such as nuts, fruits, or granola bars to maintain energy levels.
  • Ensure regular intake of water by carrying a reusable water bottle throughout shifts.
  • Plan balanced meals comprising fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
  • Avoid excessive caffeine intake and opt for healthier alternatives like herbal teas.
  • Schedule meal breaks to ensure adequate time for nourishment and hydration.
    Seek advice from nutritionists or healthcare professionals for personalized dietary plans.

4. Foster a Supportive Environment Around You

Stronger together. Sharing experiences, offering support, and nurturing camaraderie can ease stress and establish a sense of belonging in the workplace. No one wants to work the holidays, but when you’re all in it together, why not bring some holiday cheer to the hospital unit? Work with your team to sprinkle some festive vibes around, making those holiday shifts a bit more fun for everyone on board.

  • Initiate group activities like team-building exercises or collaborative projects to strengthen bonds and promote teamwork.
  • Establish regular check-ins or support groups among colleagues to share experiences, offering mutual support and understanding.
  • Offer a lending ear or support system to coworkers facing challenges, fostering a culture of empathy and cooperation.
  • Celebrate achievements collectively, reinforcing a positive work culture and boosting morale.
    Arrange peer support sessions or mentorship programs for mutual guidance and professional development.
  • Organize social events or gatherings outside work hours to foster connections and promote a sense of belonging.

5. Focus on Quality Rest

Rest isn’t a reward, it’s a recharge. Quality rest and sleep are essential for the demanding work you do. While life might be busy, and not every non-working moment is entirely your own, it’s crucial to carve out time for rest and relaxation. Invest in activities you love, enjoy moments with loved ones, and establish a sleep routine that nurtures you and supports your ability to care for others consistently.

  • Create a sleep-conducive environment by adjusting room temperature and reducing disturbances, promoting better sleep quality.
  • Practice relaxation techniques before bedtime, such as deep breathing or meditation, to unwind and facilitate restful sleep.
  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule, ensuring adequate hours of rest between shifts for optimal rejuvenation.
  • Avoid screen time or exposure to electronic devices before sleeping, promoting better sleep hygiene.
  • Invest in comfortable bedding or sleep accessories for improved sleep comfort and quality.
  • Consider power naps during breaks to recharge energy levels and combat fatigue.

6. Practice Gratitude and Self-Appreciation

Applaud your triumphs, not just the trials. It’s easy to be hard on ourselves. You’re doing amazing work that’s worth doing. Leave space to celebrate your accomplishments (no matter how small) recognize your impact, and hold grace for yourself.

You deserve it.

  • Keep a gratitude journal to reflect on positive experiences, fostering a sense of appreciation and contentment.
  • Acknowledge personal achievements, regardless of size, to boost self-esteem and motivation.
  • Express gratitude towards colleagues or patients for their support and trust, nurturing positive relationships.
  • Volunteer for community service or charitable initiatives to spread positivity and make a meaningful impact.
  • Practice positive affirmations or self-compassion exercises regularly, nurturing self-worth and confidence.
  • Participate in mindfulness activities like mindful eating or walking to cultivate gratitude and presence.

7. Set Clear Work-Life Boundaries

Balance matters. As you step away from work-related communications during your off-duty hours, allow the events of the day to remain where they belong – in the past. Grant yourself the gift of genuine, work-free time to truly rejuvenate. These moments of respite serve as a vital recharge, enabling you to return to your responsibilities with renewed vigor and focus.

  • Establish designated timeframes for work-related communication during off-duty hours, ensuring dedicated personal time.
  • Communicate clearly with colleagues or supervisors about availability and boundaries, fostering mutual respect.
  • Engage in hobbies or activities that promote relaxation and personal enjoyment, rejuvenating the mind and spirit.
  • Delegate tasks or responsibilities to prevent work encroachment during personal time, reducing stress.
  • Prioritize self-care routines or activities that refresh and rejuvenate, promoting overall well-being.
  • Utilize vacation days or time off to detach completely from work-related obligations, allowing for complete relaxation.

8. Seek Support When You Need It

You’re not alone. Seeking support isn’t a weakness, it’s proactive self-care. These resources are your lifelines, offering professional guidance and a hand to hold when the road gets tough.

  • Familiarize yourself with employee assistance programs and wellness initiatives provided by the workplace, ensuring access to professional support.
  • Seek guidance or counseling services from professionals during stressful periods, promoting mental well-being and resilience.
  • Participate in workshops or training sessions focused on stress management or resilience, acquiring valuable coping strategies.
  • Connect with peer support groups or forums for shared experiences and advice, fostering a sense of community and understanding.
  • Explore online resources, articles, or podcasts related to healthcare worker well-being, gaining insights and tips for self-improvement.
  • Engage in regular self-assessment to identify personal needs and seek appropriate support tailored to individual requirements.

Successfully navigating holiday shifts as a healthcare professional demands resilience, empathy, and self-care. Implementing strategies such as planning ahead, embracing relaxation, prioritizing nutrition, fostering a supportive environment, emphasizing quality rest, practicing gratitude, setting boundaries, and utilizing available resources significantly contributes to a healthier and more balanced holiday shift experience.

Remember, as a healthcare staffing agency dedicated to supporting you, we advocate for these self-care practices during the holiday season. Your commitment to providing care is commendable, and taking care of yourself is equally vital— of you need us, we’re here for you.


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