The truth is, few of us want to work on a major holiday like Christmas. When it comes to hospitals, however, there’s no single day when the “store is closed,” and chances are you’ll have to work a holiday shift at some point in your career.

While it may not be ideal, you can make the most of your holiday shifts – and enjoy them – by keeping a proper balance of job and family. Here are some tips and suggestions to help you achieve this balance.

Family, first

Even if you have to work during a holiday, you can still make it a priority to spend as much time with family and friends the rest of the holidays.  Schedule time off – even if you have to work some weekend days to compensate – and use that time to catch up on family happenings and issues.

Whatever you do, however, always leave your job at work. This rule applies for any time of the year, of course, but the last thing you want to do during the holidays is to carry your work irritations, challenges, and worries home with you. Check your work at the door and don’t let anything spoil your holiday fun. Remember: your work will be there waiting for you when it’s time to return.

Keep things in perspective

Looking at the bigger picture will help you navigate the holiday season. For instance, remind yourself that a holiday shift consists only of several hours, not a lifetime. And if you work on Christmas, it may mean that you were able to spend time with family at Thanksgiving or on New Year’s while others worked.

Working on Christmas Day also gives you the opportunity to show your holiday spirit to patients and co-workers. A positive attitude will produce happy feelings. Finally, remind yourself that you’re taking the time to care for others when no one else does.

Have a plan

Balancing the holidays and demands of your job is a challenge, which is why following a written plan you created in advance is very helpful. Keep a day planner with important events written down while using your day planner to schedule gift and grocery shopping. Take advantage of online shopping – which you can even do on your lunch hour.

Meanwhile, use the New Year to choose one holiday that you want to take off in the following year and then make that holiday as special as possible.

Get creative

Send a surprise gift to you loved ones while you’re working. It not only shows how much you care for them but also that you’re thinking of them during your busy workday. And don’t be afraid to show your holiday “spirit” at work by wearing holiday-themed clothing that just may cheer up your co-workers and patients.

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