A Reminder for Nurses to Look After Themselves Over Christmas


Published: 20 December 2016

With a bump in hospital presentations of between 20 and 40% over Christmas holidays, it is essential for nurses to ensure that they are caring for themselves, as well as those in their care, at this busy time (Western Sydney Local Health District 2015; Kelly 2015).

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) (2015) highlights that Christmas can exacerbate feelings of loneliness, resulting in more hospitalisations for depression and self-harm. This should emphasise the need for nurses, like all people, to be extra mindful of any signs of mental health issues over summer and to seek professional help immediately if any concerns arise.

Heart health is another important aspect of nurses looking after themselves over the festive season. Kelly (2015) reported that deaths from heart issues escalate by 5% over the Christmas holidays, with the most incidents occurring on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

Again, like the rest of the community, nurses should be aware of their intake of alcohol over summer. VicHealth (2012) conveys that there is a significant increase in alcohol-related issues in the days prior to most public holidays. It is reported that December is the month of the year with the most need for emergency services support for cases of alcohol intoxication and assaults.

To truly look after yourself, it is necessary to take care of your overall wellbeing. Better Health Channel describes wellbeing as the way you feel about yourself and your life.

nurses to look after themselves over christmas

Mindfulness techniques can help you to achieve a healthy wellbeing.

Mind Health Connect (2014) recognise the following elements that can contribute to a person’s wellbeing:

  1. Health
  2. Personal relationships
  3. Feelings of safety
  4. Standard of living
  5. Sense of achievement and purpose
  6. Feeling part of the community; and
  7. Future security.

Based on these factors, suggestions to help look after yourself this summer could include:

  • Participating in regular exercise
  • Budgeting your money
  • Having a good, nutritional diet
  • Making sure that you get enough sleep (especially if you are a shift worker!)
  • Making time to engage in enjoyable hobbies
  • Spending time with your family
  • Going on dates with your partner
  • Catching up with and strengthening your bonds with close friends
  • Practicing mindful techniques to promote a positive outlook on life events/situations
  • Join clubs/activities that are of interest to you (e.g. sports, study, social)
  • Try to find work that you find enjoyable and rewarding, rather than just working for the best pay.’

(Better Health Channel 2016)

Therefore, from a professional perspective, it is important to reflect on your career and consider if your work contributes to your wellbeing. If not, it may be time to consider ‘finding enjoyable and rewarding’ work. This may mean looking at other roles, departments, organisations, occupations, or even the amount of time spent working.

For further resources on self care, see Why Nurses Should Know About PsychoneuroimmunologyMindfulness in Nursing and Burnout, Compassion Fatigue and Secondary Post Traumatic Stress.

Ausmed is hosting a conference, Beating Burnout in Nursing, designed to help nurses and midwives tackle stress, burnout and compassion fatigue in their workplace. Learn more on the Beating Burnout in Nursing event page.

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