Surviving the Holidays: Prioritize and Learn to Let GoFor many nurses, the time between November and February tends to present times that could offer fun and stress relief. However, for the exact same reasons, stress can mount from various sources.

We look forward to seeing family. Cooking those once a year dishes, to share with others, can invite lifelong memories. Of course, juggling work into the mix is part of the everyday life of a nurse. Then time starts to meander through the calendar of various holidays. A churning stress starts to invade our peaceful thoughts of how events were meant to unfold.

Circumstances can create challenges. A nurse’s schedule is most likely already established before the holiday season arrives. Then reality happens. Family members may alter plans that interrupt a fluent strategy for what happens when. Speaking of schedules, as a nursing supervisor I recall many schedules that were constantly being adjusted depending on staffing needs and various circumstances.

Then that moment arrives. Exhausted and stressed from feeble attempts to micromanage potential new memories, you hear a still small voice in your head say, “I just cannot wait for the holidays to be over.”

Perhaps there may be a side step of planning that helps to keep things in perspective.

A survival strategy could include the following:

  1. A calendar.
  2. Lists.
  3. Willingness to adjust and let go.
  4. Breathe.
  5. Appreciate moments as they happen.

 

It all starts with a willingness to be realistic. Planning for all meals, all favorite desserts, all family gatherings... definitive word is “all”... is overwhelming. However, prioritizing may help.

  1. Try making a comprehensive list of all you may like to do.
     
  2. Then look at the list and mark each item how high a priority it is to accomplish.
     
  3. For items that you cannot live without, be honest, and let this be known.
     
  4. For other choices that are not as important, rank them lower. Maybe there will be time. But it will be much more rewarding if you are not stressed out.
     
  5. Keep your calendar handy and up to date.

 

A vital tool for staying organized and focused on your priority items is the calendar. If you need to prepare something ahead of time, then schedule it like an appointment on the calendar so that time does not sneak away. If you run out of time, you may rush through an activity, thus experiencing less joy than you may have otherwise. Stress results when trying to fit too many tasks into limited time.

Anything that can be done ahead of time, do not wait until the last minute.  Mark your calendar with tasks that could be done by a certain date to stay on target to enjoy your plans. 

Remember this, when considering your wishes for the season, allow time just to treasure that thing we call “now.”