Self-Care for Nurses Over the Holidays

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC - 03/13/19

Nurses are giving, thoughtful healthcare professionals who work 24 hours per day, 365 days a year. Whether it’s Christmas, Hannukah, Ramadan, or New Year’s Day, nurses are present when and where they’re needed most.

When it comes to the holidays, how do we recognize and celebrate such valuable individuals who give so much of themselves year in and year out? What can we give to a nurse that will move the needle in her life or career? And how do we convince nurses to take better care of themselves so they can remain healthy in the face of the stressors and challenges of their chosen profession?

Self-Care is Nurse Care

Self-care is essential for busy nurses, but so many spend their time caring for others, including patients, family members, colleagues, friends, neighbors, and their wider communities. Nurses are known to drive themselves to burnout rather than turn their attention on themselves -- this situation necessitates dire change for each and every nurse who values their own health and sense of balance.

If we want to encourage self-care among nurses, we first need to normalize the idea that nurses’ well-being matters. While others may be quick to agree that this is so, some nurses will undoubtedly need significantly more convincing.

In a perfect world, the various types of institutions that employ nurses would readily step up to the plate in order to bring nurses to accept the need for self-care. Failing that, nurses must do it for themselves and one another, and those who love and respect nurses can also lean in and provide nurses with the opportunity to take care of themselves, even as they care for countless others.

When we want to encourage a nurse to practice self-care, there are plenty of appropriate gift ideas, including:

  • A gift certificate for a massage
  • Membership at a gym, yoga studio, or other fitness-related business
  • A gift of home-delivered pre-prepared meals or meal kits from the plethora of companies providing such services
  • An evening of childcare
  • The simple pleasure of companionship for a special outing (hike, day at the beach, museum, etc)
  • A weekend out of town

So many nurses seem most intent on spending their money and devoting their time for the benefit of other people and causes. Perhaps the best self-care gift for a hard-working nurse is the gift of your time, as well as a non-judgmental ear and a shoulder to cry on.

The Deserving Nurse

When we want to show caring, love, or gratitude to a nurse, there are countless things we can do beyond the usual Christmas cards and holiday greetings, including the self-care strategies and suggestions listed above.

For a nurse who enjoys learning and growing, a novel yet highly appropriate gift would be access to CE courses. As the friend of a deserving nurse, one might purchase credits for high-quality online CE courses, or even offer to accompany the nurse in question to a live conference or educational event in a fun location.

It would be a prudent investment in nurse empowerment for organizations employing nurses to offer opportunities for continuing education and self-care, yet most nurses are left to their own devices in this regard.

Nurses, the very backbone of the healthcare delivery infrastructure, are very deserving of the support and gratitude of their communities, employers, family, friends, and colleagues. Those who serve so diligently can often be those most taken for granted; thus, remembering nurses at the holidays is truly a gift that will keep on giving.