On special days like Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah, Passover or Easter, New Year’s, and Labor Day, you’d much rather be celebrating with friends or family than at work. While no one wants to work these occasions, nurses will inevitably be assigned at least some holiday shifts throughout the year. Fortunately, there are still ways to make the most of your schedule and enjoy holidays or other special events. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the season.

Know Your Facility’s Policy & Plan in Advance

First of all, many facilities have specific policies for swapping shifts or requesting holidays off. Protocols could involve submitting requests in writing or talking to a supervisor about a shift swap. Refresh yourself on your facility’s policies early, so you have time to plan.Once you’re familiar with your facility’s policy, plan out your schedule as early as possible, and look for other nurses who may be open to trading shifts. For example, if you typically celebrate Christmas Eve, another nurse may be happy to trade that shift for Christmas morning.

Focus on the Positive

If you could not get the shift you would like, know that depending on your workplace, there may be benefits to working a holiday shift. For example, you might get overtime pay or receive the next holiday off. Having a little extra money can boost your savings or help you buy special gifts. Or, you might consider using it to treat yourself to a memorable experience, such as a spa day. Plus, during the holidays, you may also get to enjoy a slower work pace and shorter commute.

You can also use this opportunity to stand out at work in all the right ways. Being enthusiastic about working holidays and offering to take on others’ shifts could help you make a great impression on your supervisors. Having the right attitude this time of year could even boost your odds of future promotions.

Celebrate the Holiday

Celebrate with Nurse FriendsWhen you’re working a holiday shift, try to be the nurse who makes it an enjoyable experience for your colleagues and patients. Wear some holiday clothing, decorate your station, or consider playing festive music (if allowed). You could also bring in a cookie platter to spread extra cheer. You can even have a New Year’s Eve countdown celebration with your nurse friends if you’re working that shift and all is quiet for a few minutes.

Stay Connected with the Family

In the age of Zoom, keeping in touch is a breeze. It sucks when you can’t be with friends and family for a special day. So take the tools at your fingertips and make it better. Schedule a video call during your break so you can see what everyone is up to, and they can enjoy having you part of the celebrations.

Celebrate on an Alternate Date

If you can’t take off on a favorite holiday, you can also schedule an alternate time to celebrate. It might be late, but you can still make it great by having all the festivities you normally would. Plus, the time frame might actually work better to get extended family members together.

Know Your Limits

Remember, self-care is more important than any day on the calendar. Do what you feel comfortable with around the holidays, but don’t overburden yourself. If you wind up taking on back-to-back shifts to get time off for a holiday or special day, make sure you’re not overloading yourself. Only sign up for what you can manage and try to get family to help with other tasks to alleviate your workload. Taking on too much can lead to burnout, which can leave you feeling sick and exhausted.

Keep Yourself Pumped

And finally, while you may feel left out when others are home celebrating, try to remember that in the grand scheme of things, you’re literally changing lives just by showing up to work. Years from now, hopefully you’ll remember the lives you made easier and how you lifted patients’ spirits over the holidays during some of their most challenging times.

While nurses can’t avoid holiday shifts altogether, Mutual Nursing helps them find careers that fit their regular scheduling needs throughout the year. We match nurses and employers whose needs and expectations align. Start pursuing your perfect career match by filling out an application online.