8 Ways Nurses Can Help Patients Overcome the Holiday Blues

Holiday blues. MEDIjobs

Spending the holidays in the hospital separated from family and friends can be devastating for patients. As a nurse, there are some simple things you can do to help your patients beat the holiday blues. Spread some holiday cheer on your ward with these eight easy, gestures: 

1. Smile, It’s Contagious!

Sometimes, a friendly smile is enough to brighten up your patients’ day. While you may not want to be spending the holidays working, put on a happy face, and you’ll find your patients respond positively.

Smiling can diffuse stressful situations, and when accompanied by kind words, it can help patients feel more at ease and boost their mood.

2. Decorate Together

The holidays are the perfect time to inject some color into the ward by decorating the hall and nurses station with Christmas décor. Help make patients feel included by asking for input from the patients. For mobile patients, decorating the hall can be a great way to incorporate some light activity into their day and break up the monotony of spending the holidays in the hospital. 

3. Give Simple Gifts

When it comes to gift-giving, it is the thought that counts. A small token to show your patients you care is a great way to prevent your patients from feeling lonely or neglected during the holiday season.  

Handmade gifts are always appreciated such as small boxes of homemade holiday cookies or fun holiday crafts. Other small gift ideas could include stuffed toys and travel-sized board games for children, or books, or puzzles for older patients. 

4. Share Sweet Treats

Nurses are often given sweet treats as a sign of gratitude for holidays, and a gesture as simple as sharing your holiday treats can make your patients feel appreciated. 

5. Give Time and Attention

Most people want to spend time with someone during the holidays, but the stress and rush of the season make it difficult for friends and family to find time for bedside visits. Sadly, other patients don’t have loved who can come and visit. 

Give your patients the gift of a little extra time and attention. Make time on your rounds to sit for a few minutes with your patients chatting about anything other than their health. Learn a few interesting facts about them such as their favorite food, music or books. Some patients enjoy jokes, riddles or brain teasers, while others may just want someone to listen to them. Simply being present can make your patients feel genuinely cared for. 

6. Let the Sunlight In

Although bright sunny days are few and far between over the holiday season, exposing your patients to a little sunlight each day can lift their mood. Even a small amount of exposure to natural sunlight can increase the production and release of serotonin to regulate your patient’s mood.

Open the curtains slightly while your patients are awake. Take time to tidy the room and ensure freshwater and linens are available to create a relaxing and pleasant environment. These small details demonstrate that you are paying attention to their needs. 

7. Plan Holiday-Themed Activities

Bring the holiday spirit into the hospital by planning a few easy holiday-themed activities for your patients. This is especially fun for children and seniors who always have plenty of imagination and enthusiasm. 

Create personalized Christmas ornaments to trim the hospital tree. Write Christmas cards or let your imagination go wild and construct holiday décor with medical items such as a medical gloves Christmas tree, or a prescription bottle light display.

Don’t forget to acknowledge the different religious beliefs of all your patients and include a Hanukkah menorah or a Kwanzaa kinara into your hospital décor. 

Even singing Christmas carols as you do your rounds is uplifting for all ages.  

8. Have a Holiday Party

Families sometimes organize small gatherings in the ward for their hospitalized relatives over the holidays. If your patients invite you to a gathering, accept their invitation. Patients appreciate your involvement, and you can even bring a small plate of food to show that you genuinely want to be there.

Another fun option to create a festive atmosphere in the hospital is to organize a holiday party. Organizing a holiday party for nurses and patients to enjoy together gives your patients something to look forward to. Ask all the nursing staff to bring a plate of festive treats to share with patients, put on some of your favorite holiday tunes and dance the blues away. 

Final Thoughts

The holidays can be tough for patients who are unable to spend the season with family and friends. While taking care of your patients is your priority, don’t forget to practice self-care during this stressful holiday season.

It’s hard to be hospitalized during the festive season. A small and compassionate gesture from you can be significant to a patient. Kindness, empathy, and a little extra patience is holiday spirit in action.  

Try a few of these fun and simple activities with your patients to bring the spirit of the season into the hospital and create a joyful atmosphere. 


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