Working together, improving lives

December 2023

Celebrating Christmas as a Healthcare Hero

As the Christmas season fast approaches, many people eagerly anticipate spending quality time with their loved ones, while indulging in festive traditions and a slower pace as they unwind over the holidays. However, for healthcare professionals, who dedicate themselves to the well-being of others 365 days a year, this particular time of year can bring a unique set of challenges that might overshadow the joys of Christmas.

It’s important to identify some of these challenges so we can better explore ways of overcoming them. A healthcare worker is likely to feel disconnected to the traditional celebrations when working irregular shifts or those with extended hours which might leave little time for personal tasks like Christmas shopping or festive fun. Additionally, being away from family or supporting those who might not be able to see their own can take an emotional toll on wellbeing. Healthcare workers have to manage their own emotions whilst providing care and supporting the emotions of others which can be an intense and difficult balancing act. Nevertheless, there are ways for healthcare workers to not only navigate the holiday season, but also, find joy and meaning in the midst of carrying out their vital work!

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Creating a festive atmosphere

Transforming your working environment into a festive haven can significantly boost the holiday spirit for yourself and those you care for. With their permission and where possible, consider decorating common areas with lights, ornaments or a Christmas tree. Encourage service users to get involved in creating Christmas crafts that contribute to the festive decorations and consider uplifting colleagues by getting them involved in the creativity too.

Celebrating with colleagues

Of course spending Christmas with family is ideal at this time of year, but sharing the holidays with colleagues can create a sense of camaraderie and much needed support. Consider organising a secret santa exchange or festive meal at work where everyone can contribute something. This will not only provide an opportunity for shared celebrations, but it will also ensure that healthcare workers get to enjoy the feeling of something special during their shifts too.

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Celebrating virtually

If work commitments prevent physical arrangements with friends or family, leverage the post-covid world and technology around us to stay connected. Consider scheduling virtual gatherings, squeezing in video calls or arranging virtual festive game nights if you’re unable to travel to see loved ones. While it may not replace the joy of in-person celebrations, it can certainly bridge the gap, ensuring healthcare workers don’t feel disconnected or lonely.

The spirit of Christmas

The true spirit of Christmas reflects the idea of selflessness and togetherness. Whilst a healthcare worker might be feeling down about the fact they might not be able to celebrate in a traditional or familiar way, it’s important to take stock and think how those they care for are also feeling. For a multitude of reasons, a service user might not be able visit or be seen by family members and it’s incredibly important a healthcare worker makes them feel strong, supported and cared for at this time. Both yourself and them are likely to experience the same feelings so it’s important to talk openly, uplift one another and feel connected.

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Embracing the unusual

Working in healthcare often means dealing with unpredictable or flexible schedules. Instead of feeling as though you’re missing out on festivities as a result, consider adapting to these differences and in some cases make new traditions too. Celebrating Christmas on a different day, at a different time so that it can align with your schedule is perfectly acceptable and understandable. If this isn’t possible, find small moments of festive cheer during breaks at work and commutes to and from home. What’s really important is embracing the spirit of flexibility.

Prioritising your needs

The demands of the healthcare profession can be physically and emotionally taxing, as we explained above, especially during the holiday season. It’s crucial that healthcare workers prioritise their own self-care. Thankfully, this time of year presents a myriad of things that make taking steps towards self-care so much easier. Having a break with a colleague? Consider some festive games to keep morale up and have a giggle. Feeling lethargic? Enjoy a delicious sugary sweet treat bursting with the flavours of the season, like cinnamon and gingerbread. Driving home after a long day? Put on a holiday playlist and sing your heart out!

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Being a healthcare worker during Christmas undoubtedly presents some challenges, but it doesn’t mean sacrificing the joy and spirit of the season. By actively taking the time to change what is deemed ‘normal’ at this time of year and engaging in the festivities, healthcare workers can find ways to make the season still feel special. In doing so, not only do they uplift their own spirits, but also contribute to a positive atmosphere for those around them, contributing to the feelings of togetherness, the very spirit of Christmas.