Ways for Healthcare Workers to Manage Holiday Stress

Healthcare professionals, especially those caring for the ill and elderly, may find the holidays trying. Even under “normal” circumstances, the holidays may cause a great deal of anxiety due to the pressures of spending, shopping, and juggling many branches of the family at once.

Caregivers may feel even more mentally and physically drained during the “season of giving” due to high expectations of others. According to an American Psychiatric Association (APA) survey, 33% of all American healthcare workers report feeling more stressed than usual over the winter holidays. Anxiety often resulted from concerns about catching COVID-19 or difficulty locating and purchasing suitable presents. 

A significant cause of tension for those in healthcare around the holidays was extra hours. Nurses and nursing aides often feel pressure because of their gender. However, healthcare is not without its generalized stresses, even when everything goes well. Women, in particular, are more likely than men to note an increase in holiday-related tension. Taking care of your emotional and physical health should always be your number one priority, even though it might be challenging to determine when, where, and how to act. Here are some ways healthcare professionals can manage holiday-related stress and emotions. 

Permit Yourself to Experience Intense Emotions

Being alone over the holidays is difficult for everyone, but it may be harrowing when loved ones are far away. Eight out of ten healthcare workers in the United States feel exhausted or burned out. Many in the medical field believe the public has gone from praising them to rejecting them because of concerns that they may have gotten the deadly COVID-19 virus from their patients.

Some people in your life may make you feel that they don’t care about your problems or that the community as a whole has abandoned you. You are most likely receiving less help than you want. It’s not your job to fix your relationships with your loved ones by having heartfelt conversations. The discomfort of dealing with emotional overload is natural and might be a significant challenge in itself.

There may not be enough help available if you’re having trouble recovering from the effects of a mental health crisis. You may rely on your colleagues to provide encouragement and support. If you’re interested in finding peer support or psychotherapy, you might also inquire about your employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Healing Breaths workshops are known to reduce stress, deepen sleep, lessen anxiety and depressive symptoms, and improve healthcare worker job satisfaction. Schedule a call with one of our wellness account experts today!

Keep Practical Expectations

While others may expect us to be more upbeat than usual during the holiday season, it’s best to have a level head and regulate our emotions accordingly. The winter holidays can bring on an upsurge in depression, the “winter blues,” and suicide attempts. Caregivers must adopt a realistic understanding of warning signs to look for and safety measures to take at this time of year.

Pay Attention to Your Physical Needs

There is more significant pressure, more travel, and usually less downtime. Physical symptoms of stress, such as tired shoulders from moving gurneys, may be easily identified. When aches and pains persist for an extended period, it indicates that your body is under undue strain. AdventHealth University reports that these symptoms might include irritability, short temper, inability to sleep, and nightmares.

    Take the Big Picture into Account

    In the grand scheme of your year, the holiday season (as trying as it may be) lasts for only a few weeks. If you’re feeling frazzled by the constant activity, take a deep breath and realize that this, too, will pass. Remember that not everyone celebrates the same holidays as you do, and no one should ever feel compelled to participate in celebrations or activities that make them feel out of place or uncomfortable.

    Practice Self-Care

    To maintain one’s emotional well-being, self-care is essential. Simple, short, and pleasurable activities can uplift you often throughout the day. These might include anything from starting a new hobby to keeping a diary. Whatever activity you engage in, do so with awareness of the importance of taking responsibility for yourself. Healing Breaths’ self-care programs are designed especially for healthcare workers. Our evidence-based SKY program has demonstrated a drastic improvement in sleep quality and stress; click here to schedule a 15-minutes call with one of our wellness experts.

    Give Sensibly

    It’s not uncommon for caregivers to overextend themselves by agreeing to work many overtime holiday hours, only to burn out and scramble at the last minute to find a replacement. Remember that the gift of your time and presence (rather than material possessions) is what your loved ones will remember most.

    Maintain Good Sleep Hygiene

    Enough sleep is essential, so if you’re concerned about losing sleep, consider going to bed early. Research has shown that getting adequate sleep may lower your chances of developing dementia by helping you relax and de-stress. It also increases reliability and patient safety when on the job. Brain fog, memory loss, inability to concentrate, and poor judgment are all signs of insufficient rest.

    Prepare as Best You Can

    Holiday caretakers may be more organized and present throughout the holidays by preparing to-do lists or completing tasks in advance. By making a plan, you can keep track of all the things you have to do and commitments you have made. Instead of committing to too many events or activities, use a calendar to determine which ones provide the most satisfaction.

    Check-In with Your Feelings

    Trying to fake happiness will make you feel worse about how you feel. Try to give yourself time to look inward at what’s really going on in your heart and mind. If you’re having trouble figuring out what to do next, it may help to divert yourself. Engage in positive social activities, or express yourself creatively.

    Connect but Establish Boundaries

    If you feel lonely or alone, reach out and make new acquaintances, participate in community activities, or join a religious or social group. One of the most effective ways to deal with stress is to invest in healthy relationships. However, there is nothing wrong with establishing limits. It would be best to practice saying “no” to keep your sanity. Don’t go to parties you don’t want to attend, and don’t work extra if you don’t have to. Instead, invest your time in the people and pursuits that matter to you.

    As holiday celebrations continue and you move closer to the end of the year, ensure that you meet your needs in each dimension of wellness, especially physically and emotionally. If there is any deficiency, reach out for support. Your peers and colleagues are probably experiencing similar emotions, so try to help and support one another. Expressing gratitude has been shown to have tremendous positive effects on mind, body, and soul. So amid the holiday stress, work, family, and social gatherings, find time to be thankful daily. 

    For more information on how Healing Breaths can help you and other health professionals develop practical self-care practices and manage stress, schedule a 15-minutes call with a wellness expert today!