Give yourself the gift of chilling out this holiday season

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Emily Mongan
Emily Mongan

Let's get something out of the way right off the bat: Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. I spend most of Black Friday concerned about getting my lights and decorations up instead of cruising the mall for bargains, and I have a pretty strict schedule of holiday film viewing (“White Christmas” while decorating, “Love Actually” while wrapping presents).

But somewhere between my high school graduation and now, something switched. Instead of cheering with excitement when somebody mentions that Christmas is just three weeks away, I'm met with a moment of panic. There are still so many presents left to buy, and treats to bake. Add those responsibilities on top of things like keeping up with work and relationships, and “the most wonderful time of the year” can quickly turn into anything but.

That's why this recent post on how nurses can avoid holiday burnout from DailyNurse caught my eye. It's geared toward frontline caregivers, but the tips shared can be valuable for anyone in the long-term care field. After all, providing care can be a stressful profession even on a regular day. Once holiday pressures and dealing with families that are similarly stressed get added in, this time of year can get even crazier.

For nurses — or anyone else — who may be feeling a bit of burn out these days, here's what author Jennifer Lelwica Buttaccio recommends.

•  Consider your work-life balance. When was the last time you sat down and really evaluated how you split up your work duties and your home life? Allowing your work to spill over into your life outside of work can hurt your sleep, exercise regimen and overall health, so try to focus on “things that increase your energy and sense of optimism.”

•   Practice self-care. Maybe it's reading a book, taking a yoga class or baking cookies. These activities will help “recharge your mental, physical, and spiritual battery,” Buttaccio says.

•   Create boundaries. It's that pesky work-life balance again! It's easy to want to help your facility, coworkers and residents out this time of year by putting in extra effort, but know when to draw the line. That extra help can add up and contribute to burnout.

•   Take time off. If you have vacation days, use them, Buttaccio says. A day or two away from work can help you recharge and come back to the facility ready to juggle your responsibilities better than if you slowly let your energy slip away during the holiday season.

•   Get educated. You're likely seeing ads for discounted continuing education classes floating around this time of year — Buttaccio recommends taking advantage of those to “re-invigorate your nursing practice.” But the idea could be beneficial to any long-term care employee. Need any idea of where to start? How about a McKnight's webinar, like tomorrow's on labor management?

It can be hard to tackle everything on your holiday to-do list while keeping up with your workplace responsibilities. But taking time to step back and reevaluate how you're using your time — and if you're a manager, how your employees are faring this time of year — can pay off in the form of re-energized, healthier workers and happier residents.

For the stressed out long-term care provider, that may be the greatest gift of all.

Follow Staff Writer Emily Mongan @emmongan.


Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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