The holidays are overwhelming. Medical providers see an uptick in patients suffering from anxiety and depression during the winter months. There are plenty of stressors, including family and financial issues, that trigger acute and chronic mental illnesses during the holidays.
Whether you are predisposed to a mental illness or working odd hours as a medical provider, there are symptoms to look for and monitor during these eventful months. Let’s explore how the way you are managing your schedule can affect your mental health during the holidays.
Management of the Holiday Schedule
The first key to managing a holiday schedule is to set a practice-wide policy well in advance. It’s important to consider that many providers have diverse backgrounds and to account for all major holidays.
Most groups choose to assign holidays at least one year in advance to allow providers to plan accordingly. For example, providers are required to work one or two major holidays in a year with the expectation that they will be off the following year. One simple way to achieve this is to assign staff to “A” or “B” groups and rotate time off each year. In the event of provider turnover, administrators can assign new employees to either group without too much back and forth.
Consistent Schedules Can Help
Consistency is essential to preventing burnout and exhaustion during the holidays. Providers who work nights should make every effort to make sleep a priority, especially during the busy holiday season.
Try to keep night shift workers on a consistent schedule that allows them to adjust their schedules ahead of time to account for the extra time needed to celebrate with their families while still making sure they are taking care of themselves.
Discuss Your Holiday Policy at the Next Meeting
Before the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, have a meeting to discuss the time-off and holiday expectations. This will help your providers plan out their holiday travel and prepare their bodies and minds for the extra stress and festivities of the season.
Explain your holiday and time-off policies so there are no surprises when providers start taking time off.
Working during the holidays is hard on everyone. It is especially challenging for providers who work the night shift. Express the importance of checking on your co-workers and taking time for self-reflection to ensure your group is rested and ready to brave the hectic holiday season.
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