How to Avoid the Holiday Blues on Assignment


By Melissa Wirkus, associate editor

From an onslaught of 12-hour night shifts to the regular stressors of the holiday season, it’s no wonder health care workers can become overworked and burnt-out during what is supposed to be the most joyous time of the year.

For travel nurses on assignment during the holidays, it’s especially important to take care of yourself and make the most of the upcoming season, even if you’re away from your permanent home. Although the holidays may be a bit different when you’re on the road, read on to discover plenty of tips on how to avoid the holiday blues and create new holiday traditions of your very own.

One of the biggest concerns many travelers have during this time of year is that they won’t be able to get away to see family and friends. If you know you’ll have limited time off during the holidays, consider inviting family and friends to come out and visit you at your assignment location.

If this is not possible, reach out to other travel nurses and the staff at your facility. Invite the other nurses on your unit over for a holiday potluck. Even if you are new to the area, chances are there are other travelers in your facility that would love to have some company during the holidays.  To find even more nurses in your area, log on to, where you can connect with other nurses who share your same interests and clinical experience.

Connecting with your community is another great way to embrace the holiday season while traveling. Every city has special holiday events and activities that are open to the public, and are a great way to experience the holiday traditions in your assignment city. Look to local publications for a listing of events in your area, or perform a simple search online to find fun things to do this time of year.

There is no better way to immediately elevate your mood this holiday season than to give back. From volunteering at a soup kitchen to organizing a canned food drive at your facility, volunteering your time to give to others is what the holiday season is all about.

In addition to making a difference in the lives of other people, participating in a charitable cause or organization is a great way to meet other like-minded individuals. Toy drives for underprivileged children and nonperishable food collections are especially important this time of year. Visit to search for volunteer opportunities by location or type of service or where you can register your service project and invite others to join.

Calm Down and Care for Yourself
According to the organization Mental Health America (MHA), there are a number of factors that can contribute to the holiday blues including financial woes, over-commercialization, stress, fatigue and the inability to be with one’s family and friends. Although many of these stressors are an inherent part of the season, there are ways to cope and come out on top this holiday season.

Simply taking some time out of your day to relax and recharge can help you stay stress-free and happy this holiday season. MHA recommends setting realistic goals and expectations for the holidays and organizing and prioritizing your time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Trying new activities and reaching out to make new friends or contacting someone you haven’t heard from in awhile are all ways to cope with and avoid stress and depression during the holidays.

Fitting in time to exercise and eat nutritious meals throughout the day are also essential elements of surviving the holiday season. Limiting alcohol intake (especially at all of those festive gatherings!) is also important to remember.  Not only will you feel happier and healthier, but focusing on your diet and exercise regimes will give you a head start on those New Year’s resolutions!

Cash in
We all know that money can’t buy happiness, but no one’s ever gotten depressed from having a little extra cash in their pockets—especially this time of year! The holidays are a great time of year to pick up extra shifts or even take on short, quick-start assignments in between regular contracts. Staying busy while making extra money can help ease the holiday blues and provide ample spending money for holiday gifts and other seasonal expenses.

Experienced nurses can make extra money working over the holidays by taking a short-term assignment with leading rapid response staffing company, NurseChoice.

Whatever you plan for the holiday season, be sure to take care of yourself and have fun. Cheers!

© 2009. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 


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