Avoiding the Holiday Blues While on Assignment

Don’t look now, but seemingly out of nowhere the holiday season is in full swing! Most of us are dragging holiday decorations out of the basement, stringing lights up around the porch and windows, and maybe even inflating giant snowmen in the front yard.  If you happen to be away from home on a travel assignment, you are probably feeling a sense of relief but maybe some sadness at the same time. On one hand, you aren’t struggling to find the one light in the string that won’t go on, but on the other, you aren’t sharing in the wide-eyed joy of those who are preparing their homes for the season.  It’s perfectly normal to feel a pang of the blues if you are away from home this season, but don’t let it overwhelm you or ruin your holiday spirit.  Here are a few tried and true ways to avoid the blues while on a travel assignment this holiday season.

  • Keep Your Thoughts Merry and Bright. If you allow it to happen, your subconscious can talk your brain into feeling glum about missing out on family activities. Instead, be diligent about keeping your attitude positive so your coworkers and even more so, your patients, don’t catch any negative vibes from you. The more holiday cheer you spread, the better you will feel about working.
  • Have a Plan to Celebrate After Your Assignment. Holidays are just days on a calendar.  In reality, the holiday celebration is whenever you are gathered among family and friends enjoying a good meal and fellowship.  Make a plan to celebrate with your loved ones after the assignment ends. Just because it is January or February, those who are important in your life will be just as happy to have a belated celebration.
  • Volunteer For Those in Need. As a healthcare professional you are already giving of yourself on a daily basis.  But, if ever there was a way to fill yourself with the holiday spirit it is by volunteering for those less fortunate.  Take time to spend an evening at the local soup kitchen, and you will not only help others enjoy a warm meal, but you will also experience the feeling of joy from their sense of gratitude. You might also check out volunteer opportunities at the local homeless shelter, or donate at the blood bank. For a special treat, find out if you can volunteer some time at the local animal shelter.  Who doesn’t want to play around with some cute pups or kittens?
  • Organize a Holiday Celebration at Work. The reason you are on assignment during the holidays is probably to fill staffing shortages for those nurses and therapists who are fortunate to be off this time of year. That leaves many junior staffers and others who don’t have the option of taking the holidays off. This is the perfect scenario to collaborate with your co-workers on a holiday celebration.  Be sure to organize a potluck and make sure someone brings a karaoke machine!
  • Practice the Gift of Giving. One activity that never fails in lightening the spirits of those around us is gift giving. Take this opportunity to spread the holiday spirit and pass out small, unsolicited gifts to your patients and co-workers. Even something as small as a single candy cane will bring a smile to the face of an unsuspecting recipient and at the same time will warm your heart as well.

There are positives to having to work this holiday season, but if you still find the blues starting to creep in, make sure you have a plan to turn it around.  Much like Ebenezer Scrooge after he was visited by the third ghost, in Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” the more you spread joy to those around you, the more you will reap in return.  Who knows, you may even find yourself dancing around the nurse’s station proclaiming that you are as light as a feather!

Tell us how you beat the holiday blues while on assignment in the comments below or on our Facebook page.