8 Tips for Surviving the Holidays if You Have a Demanding Job

8 Tips for Surviving the Holidays if You Have a Demanding Job

Demanding jobs are tough year-round, but they’re especially difficult during the holidays—doubly so if you have to work on the holidays themselves. If you’re wondering how you’re going to survive the holidays this year while working your job, you’re not alone. Whether you wear stretch scrubs or a suit to work, here are eight tips for surviving the holidays while still working full-time:

1. Get things done ahead of time.

If you work over the holidays, your schedule is probably going to be a blur between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. If you can, try to get as many of your holiday tasks as possible done before the busy season starts. Finish your gift shopping, decorate your home, plan out the food menus, arrange any holiday travel—whatever’s on your to-do list, go ahead and get it done. Working during the holidays is already stressful enough without having to also rush through your holiday prep on top of working full-time.

2. Ask friends and family for help.

If you’re the one who usually carries the holidays for your family, it might be time to ask for some help this year. If you have a spouse or adult children who will be taking time off around the holidays, request that they help pick up the slack and take on some of the things you have been doing. Make a list of all the tasks that you normally take care of during the holidays and identify ones that can be easily done by other people. For example, your spouse might not be great at picking out gifts, but they can definitely wrap presents for you.

3. Set expectations early.

If you have to work during the holidays, you might not be able to attend all (or any) of your usual family gatherings. Once you have your schedule locked down, communicate it to your family and let them know what you will and won’t be able to do this year. You might be able to make it to a family dinner, but not cook an entire spread. Be prepared that your family might stir up a fuss, or not understand why you have to work on the holidays. Lean on your more supportive family members for help with managing the rest of them.

4. Celebrate on a different day.

One workaround that families use is celebrating on a different day than the official holiday. After all, the holiday isn’t just about the date it’s held on, but also about being together and upholding traditions. If your family’s schedule can accommodate it, try to find another date that you do have off that also works for your family. You may enjoy celebrating on a different day more than trying to cram in a gathering before or after work on the official holiday. For all you know, you may start a new family tradition.

5. Get festive at work.

Just because you have to work during the holidays, it doesn’t mean that it has to be a total drag. If your work permits it, bring a little bit of the holiday spirit to the office with your wardrobe and accessories. For instance, if you work as a nurse, you can wear cotton scrubs printed with holiday graphics. If you work retail, you can wear patterned sweaters, Santa hats or light-up necklaces. Even if you must wear your regular clothes to work, you still might be able to add a subtle touch, such as a small pair of earrings.

6. Take care of your own health.

Many people are more susceptible to getting sick over the holidays. Not only is it already cold and flu season, but the added stress of the holidays also makes you more vulnerable to getting ill. The additional pressure of working over the holidays only heightens the problems and wears you down at a time when you’re already exhausted. Make it a priority to drink enough water, eat healthy, exercise and get enough sleep to help keep your body strong. Take time off when you can to rest both your body and your mind and replenish your energy reserves. You’ll need it to make it through the holidays.

7. Give yourself something to look forward to.

There’s no getting around it: Working during the holidays can stink, and your motivation is probably going to tank as the season goes on. To help yourself keep going, schedule something that you can look forward to. Even if you can’t take Christmas Day off, maybe you can negotiate for a few extra days off at New Year’s–or schedule a massage for the weekend after the holidays. Just make sure that it’s something that you will look forward to and that will help you feel refreshed and rested.

8. Take a break from technology.

It may be tempting to scroll through your various social media networks to see what everyone else is doing on their days off, but this will probably just make you feel worse. Try temporarily deleting the apps from your phone and logging out on your laptop to give yourself a break from the endless slog of posts. Watching other people have fun on their holiday vacation when you’re stuck at work is a total downer, so try not to put yourself through it. Use the time to watch a movie, read a book or do something else relaxing instead.

Working during the holidays is tough, but it’s possible to make it through the winter and even have a little fun while you’re at it. Follow these eight strategies to not just survive but thrive during the holiday season while working a demanding job and taking care of your holiday errands.

Mantras and Affirmations for Nurses Amid COVID-19

Mantras and Affirmations for Nurses Amid COVID-19

Many people, including nurses, have daily mantras or affirmations they use to set their intentions and motivate themselves throughout the day. Mantras can help you get through a tough time, but the ones you’ve always used before might not be enough to get you through the pandemic. If you’re looking for new mantras or affirmations, or you want to get started with them, here are 10 phrases tailored to COVID-19:

1. I will care for my patients to the best of my ability.

Nursing is also about patient care, so leading with a patient-centered affirmation is very fitting. Notice that the words focus on what’s possible—“care for my patients to the best of my ability”—instead of focusing on unrealistic expectations (i.e., “I will cure all my patients”). All mantras and affirmations should be equally realistic and within your abilities; otherwise, they will put unneeded pressure on you and stress you out.

2. This will not break me.

Caring for patients during the pandemic, especially patients who are severely sick with COVID-19, can be absolutely overwhelming. Tell yourself that you may bend under the pressure, but you are strong enough not to break. You will get through this in one piece, and you will live to fight another day (or rather, live to help your patients fight another day).

3. I have survived hard times before.

This relates to the previous mantra, and the two work well in tandem. As proof that this experience will not break you, consider all the times you thought you couldn’t overcome a challenge—and then did it anyway. Look to the past for evidence of how strong you are and how your resiliency will enable you to persevere in the midst of these incredibly tough times. Even when the last thing you wanted to do was put on your cotton scrubs and go to work, you still did it, and you can do it again.

4. Stay in the present.

With no real end to the pandemic in sight, it’s easy to get caught in a spiral, wondering about all the disasters the future might hold. This is an understandable impulse, but try not to give in to it. Instead, focus on the present moment and helping the patients right in front of you (or making the most of your day off, when you’re not on shift). Concentrate on what you can do this week, this day, this hour, this minute.

5. I can make a difference.

Within the scheme of the pandemic, it may not seem like the actions of a single nurse can make a difference either way. However, your actions matter to your patients, which in turn impacts their loved ones and their entire network. Maybe you can’t make a difference to the whole world, but you can (and will) make a difference to your patients. Your work is not futile.

6. This is temporary, and it will pass.

As the pandemic drags on, the hypothetical end point seems further and further away. Some days it feels like there has always been a pandemic, and will always be a pandemic. But even the worst situations eventually come to an end. Even though it may feel endless, COVID-19 will end and vaccines will become available. We don’t know how far away the light at the end of the tunnel is, but there is a light.

7. I cannot control everything.

This can be a tough one for nurses, who often joined the profession partly because they like to be in charge and have a lot of autonomy. But many things are still out of your control, and this is especially true in the healthcare field where you can do your best and still not achieve the patient outcomes you so desperately wanted. Rather than blame yourself, remind yourself that you cannot control everything and sometimes things happen.

8. I will focus on things that I can change.

Another mantra duo, “I will focus on things that I can change” is a good follow-up to “I cannot control everything.” Thinking about how you can’t control everything can sometimes lead to feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. But just because not everything is in your control doesn’t mean that nothing is. Concentrate on what you can do, even if it’s just taking the time to listen closely to a patient.

9. I have things to be grateful for.

In hard situations like coronavirus, it’s very easy to fixate on the negatives because there are so many bad things happening at once. While it can be difficult, try to find some small things to be grateful for–even if it’s as simple as a call with your loved ones or a nice soothing cup of tea. It sounds silly, but looking for the small things will help you find tiny sparks of positivity.

10. I am allowed to have negative feelings…but they won’t overwhelm me.

You are probably having a lot of emotions right now, many of them negative. You might be scared, sad, angry, confused or all of the above at once. Tell yourself that it’s okay not to be okay and that you are allowed to feel all your feelings, however negative they may be. Avoid “toxic positivity” which insists on projecting happiness and productivity at all times. However, you should also remind yourself that these feelings will pass. You don’t want to wallow in them so much that you tip into despair.

The right mantras and affirmations can help you center yourself, clear your head and reaffirm your priorities. If you’re in need of some mantras during the pandemic, try reciting these 10 phrases to yourself before donning your scrubs and heading to work. Thank you for all that you do!

The New Nurse Guide: 11 Ways to Adjust to a New Practice

The New Nurse Guide: 11 Ways to Adjust to a New Practice

Starting a new nursing job can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. You have to learn where everything is and get to know your new coworkers while trying to do your job. If you’re starting a new position and wondering how you can adjust, read these 11 tips before your first day of work.

1. Come prepared.

Be ready to hit the ground running at your new job. Read over the hospital’s policies and procedures ahead of time, so you’re not trying to learn on the fly. Clean your house, do your chores, wash your cotton scrubs, and cook all the food you’ll need so you can concentrate on your first week or two on the job. It takes a little work, but you’ll be grateful when that first week of work starts.

2. Get to know your facility.

Learning where your team stores various equipment is one of the most important and practical things to do when you first start your job. You’ll need to know what is kept in the supply room and where your team stores the Crash Cart. Being able to retrieve items quickly will make your job easier, and those precious extra seconds can make a difference in a true emergency. So take yourself on a tour of your floor and figure out where everything is!

3. Ask smart questions.

Some nurses hesitate to ask questions at a new job because they’re afraid that it will make them look ignorant. However, asking smart questions will show that you’ve been paying attention and are actively engaging with the team. If you need to, carry around a little notebook where you can jot down the various answers and refer back. This way, you don’t end up asking the same question a dozen times over.

4. Listen to the gossip (but don’t participate).

While it’s important to know the official policies and procedures, a lot of the important knowledge is passed along through word of mouth. If your coworkers start chit-chatting with you, pay attention to see if you can glean any information about how the unit works. You may learn by hearing about past events. However, it’s usually best not to participate in the gossip yourself, especially before you know your coworkers well. You don’t want to ruffle any feathers.

5. Stay positive.

There are bound to be some mishaps and miscommunications during your first weeks on the job. While you might be tempted to get down on yourself, try to look for the bright side and stay positive. You’ll likely be stressed from the new job, which makes you more vulnerable to small mistakes. So cut yourself some slack and try to stay upbeat.

6. Reach out to coworkers.

Having a friendly, open demeanor can go a long way toward helping you establish good relationships with your coworkers. Make an effort to participate when they engage you in conversation and say “yes” when they invite you to lunch. As you get to know people better, you can take the initiative in starting conversations or asking if they want to grab coffee together on your breaks.

7. Find a good mentor.

Having a good mentor is crucial to succeeding at your job. In a perfect world, this mentor will be your direct supervisor, but you won’t always end up with a great boss. If your nurse supervisor is less than ideal, seek out a mentor who you don’t report to but can trust. This person can be someone at the facility or someone else.

8. Be a team player.

Nurses do have a lot of autonomy and often work independently, but they also operate as a unit. The best nurses can work well on their own or with their team members. It’s also important to be able to work well with doctors and other health care providers. Make it a point to be a team player and work well with your new coworkers. If you prefer to be a lone wolf most of the time, see this as an area of growth and set a goal for yourself to improve your teamwork skills.

9. Give yourself time.

It’s normal to feel a bit unbalanced as you adjust to a new job. Not only are you in a new environment surrounded by new people, but you might also be taking on new duties. If you moved cities on top of getting a new job, you’re going to feel even more frazzled. Give yourself at least six months to get settled into your new role. It takes a while to feel comfortable at a new job. Be aware that it may take longer, especially if you’re dealing with other changes.

10. Stay confident.

As part of that adjustment period, you might feel like you don’t belong at your new job and wonder whether you’re truly qualified for the position. These feelings are totally normal and especially common if the new role is a promotion. Remind yourself that your employer wouldn’t have hired you for the role if you weren’t qualified. Everyone takes some time to get settled into a new job.

11. Advocate for your patients.

In the stress and confusion of a new job, don’t lose sight of why you go to work in the first place: your patients. Patient outcomes should always be the priority for both you as an individual nurse and your facility. Whenever you feel overwhelmed by all the new changes, focus on caring for your patients and providing the best care possible. You can’t go wrong with this attitude.

If you follow these 11 strategies, you’ll be able to don your scrubs and your nursing shoes with confidence on your first day. Good luck at your new job, and congrats on finding a new nursing position!

7 Precautions for Health Care Workers to Combat COVID-19

7 Precautions for Health Care Workers to Combat COVID-19

Doctors, nurses, and health care providers are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, providing care and saving lives. Given how little is known about the virus, and how contagious it appears to be, many health care workers are understandably nervous about contracting the disease or bringing it home to their loved ones. Whether you’re a nurse in the ICU or a home health care worker in a senior facility, here are seven precautions you can take to combat COVID-19 and protect yourself, your family, and your friends.

1. Make sure your facility is following CDC guidelines.

At this point in the coronavirus epidemic, your facility should already be following the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This includes measures such as identifying airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIR) or negative pressure rooms for quarantine and screening. Another important measure is outlining staffing protocols to facilitate the care of patients with COVID-19. Since developments are changing so rapidly and new research is proceeding apace, you should double-check that your facility is staying up to date with the most current findings. You can find more guidance from the CDC’s centralized portal.

2. Observe proper PPE protocols.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages are a sad reality in some areas, even as companies and individuals race to make more masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves. As much as possible, you should wear PPE and follow safety protocols, including proper hand sanitation. Sanitize your hands, step into your isolation gown, put on your N95 respirator, add your goggles or face shield, wash or sanitize your hands again and put on your gloves. Then, you may finally enter the patient room. Before exiting the room, remove the gloves and gown and dispose of them. After exiting the room, perform hand hygiene before and after removing the face shield and mask.

3. Watch yourself for symptoms.

Health care workers are unfortunately at a greater risk of catching coronavirus, especially if they are working directly with patients who are ill with COVID-19. Watch yourself carefully for symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath within 2-14 days of exposure. Symptoms present very differently from individual to individual, and you can also be asymptomatic while carrying the virus without knowing it. You can measure your temperature to make sure that you’re not sick if you think you might have been exposed. If you start exhibiting symptoms, it’s imperative to get tested immediately. You don’t want to infect otherwise healthy patients, so the safest action you can take is to self-isolate and wait for your test results.

4. Educate your patients.

Yes, health care providers can spread the coronavirus — and so can your patients. In fact, the vast majority of people have picked up the virus from other civilians in perfectly ordinary situations, like going to the grocery store. Talk to patients about the importance of self-isolation and following CDC guidelines, such as not touching their faces, washing their hands properly for at least 20 seconds, and limiting trips outside the house. Make sure that your patients are only coming in for an appointment if absolutely necessary. If there’s any chance they have coronavirus, even if their symptoms are mild, it could be best for them to ride it out at home rather than to come in and potentially infect other people. As always, make sure all patients consult with their health care providers about any such decisions.

5. Leave the germs at work.

Bring a set of clean clothes and shoes with you to work in a sealed plastic bag. At the end of your shift, perform hand hygiene and change into the new clothes and shoes. Place your scrubs in another sealed bag to bring home with you and don’t put the dirty clothes in the same bag as the clean clothes if you plan to reuse them. If you can, leave your slip-resistant shoes in your locker so you don’t have to take them home with you. Once you leave the hospital, wipe down your cell phone, pager, and other personal devices with disinfectant. You might also want to disinfectant the door handles, steering wheel, and other high touch areas in your car.

6. Clean your scrubs and shoes.

At home, leave your shoes outside the door. Take off your clothes and put them in the washer immediately alongside your nursing scrubs. Wash the clothes on the hottest setting possible with plenty of detergent. If you want, you can also add bleach to the wash cycle. Dry the clothes for at least 30 minutes on the hottest setting available. If your shoes are made of a hard material, wipe them down with disinfectant after each shift. If they’re not, wash them periodically in a separate load.

7. Protect your family.

Even if you’re not currently exhibiting symptoms, if you work in a role that exposes you to patients that likely have coronavirus, you might want to self-isolate from your family. You can isolate yourself in your own living space, but you’ll need to sleep in a different bedroom, use a different bathroom, and eat your meals separately from the rest of your family. If your current living arrangement doesn’t allow you to do that, some hotels and short-term rentals are offering accommodations to health care workers for drastically reduced rates so they can keep their families safe.

Following these guidelines and erring on the side of caution will cut down on your odds of spreading COVID-19 or catching it yourself. Stay abreast of the latest guidelines and do everything you can to leave the germs at the hospital.

How to Talk to Your Patients About Vaccinations

How to Talk to Your Patients About Vaccinations

It’s now officially flu season, which means more patients than ever need to get vaccines in addition to the usual shots. But given the rise in anti-vaccination sentiment over the past few years, some patients are suspicious of anyone in a white lab coat who tells them that they, or their children, need vaccinations. Even patients who aren’t “antivaxxers” will likely have more questions about vaccinations than they would have a few years ago, simply due to the uptick in news stories. Here are 10 things to keep in mind as you prepare to talk to your patients about vaccinations:

1. Start a conversation.

In past decades, you might have been able to run through the required vaccination spiel and administered an IM injection without getting a single question from patients. But now we live in a time where misinformation about vaccinations is rife and infectious disease rates are rising due to reduced vaccinations–and people have a lot to say about it. When you’re talking to patients about vaccinations, create a two-way conversation rather than a one-way dump of information that shuts out the patient.

2. Acknowledge their concern and listen to them.

Especially when it comes to their kids, many parents are very concerned about vaccinations and the potentially adverse effects they can have. In these situations, dismissing their concerns outright will often only confirm their perceptions that the medical establishment doesn’t care about their worries, further entrenching this position. Instead, empathize with them, listen to their concerns and communicate that you also want to keep their kids as healthy as possible.

3. Use plain language and specific examples.

Medical jargon means nothing to most patients, and definitely not to their kids. When talking to patients, use language that’s accurate yet easy to understand. It can also help to use specific individual examples to really illustrate the power of vaccines–for example, maybe you know a patient who refused to get the flu vaccine and ended up contracting the flu that season. While a single example isn’t statistical proof, it is easier for patients to grasp.

4. Communicate your credentials.

“Of course, patients should know I’m competent! I’ve been to medical school and have been practicing for years!” you may think. However, there’s a perception among certain groups of patients that so-called outside experts are more trustworthy than doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. If a patient seems reluctant to believe you, you may need to gently work your credentials into the conversation to show that you really do know what you’re talking about.

5. Emphasize the safety of vaccines.

Most patients’ concerns center on vaccine safety and whether or not it will have unintentional side effects. To help assuage their fear, focus on the safety of vaccines and how rare side effects are. Having some numbers about their safety, such as the tiny percentage of people who develop side effects, can also be helpful. (More on using statistics wisely below.)

6. Explain the consequences of diseases.

Over the past few decades, vaccination rates have risen and infectious disease rates have dropped, so many people have no firsthand experience of the illnesses they’re being vaccinated against. In fact, they might not even know what the symptoms are. While it’s great that we’re no longer afraid of so many killer epidemics, this does mean that patients have no idea just how serious these diseases can be. While you should never fear monger, you might need to factually explain exactly what the various vaccinations protect against.

7. Have some numbers handy.

While inundating patients with numbers will likely cause them to glaze over and check out, having one or two well-placed statistics ready can go a long way. For instance, if a patient says that their child doesn’t need the MMR vaccine because “no one gets the measles anymore,” you can point out that there have actually been 1,250 confirmed cases of the measles in the U.S. since the beginning of 2019, many of them linked to a lack of vaccines.

8. Know what the internet is telling them.

In order to successfully debate an opponent, you’d brainstorm all the advantages they’d point out and then find ways to refute them, right? In the same vein, you can’t successfully argue against the anti-vaccination movement without knowing their claims and evidence (or the lack thereof), and most patients are getting this information from the internet. If you’re seeing a lot of patients who are resistant to getting vaccines, it might be worthwhile to explore what the other side is telling them so you can argue against it more persuasively.

9. Make sure your staff presents a united front.

If patients are already predisposed to distrust the medical establishment, this suspicion will only be heightened if they hear one thing from a nurse and another thing from a doctor regarding vaccinations. Meet with your staff regularly to keep them up to date on the latest findings and to establish your talking points. Giving patients two different pieces of information will only confuse them further, so everyone needs to be on the same page.

10. Be prepared for counterarguments.

Despite all these preparations, some patients are still going to have questions and counterarguments for you. Instead of brushing them off or shutting them down, engage with them and show that you care. Try to see the concern and worry fueling these arguments instead of only dwelling on the surface claims. For some people, getting vaccines for their children is a very emotional decision–instead of just a rational one–and you’ll need to proceed accordingly.

As a medical professional, you’re almost always a patient’s most trustworthy source on vaccines, even if they don’t believe it quite yet. Keep these 10 tips in mind as you prepare to talk to your patients about vaccines.

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