Nursing Voices

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Let Nurse Hilary Help You Beat the Holiday Blues

Editor’s Note: I hope you like reruns. I published this post last year, but it contains information worth repeating.

Nurse Hilary is on a quest. She’s teaching people how to survive the holiday season. See Hilary talking to the doctor? He’s feeling blue, and she’s trying to lift his spirits.

Many people think Ebinezer Scrooge was right. “Christmas-Bah-Humbug!” How, you may ask, can anyone enjoy the holidays? Do you spend too much money during the holidays, visit relatives you can’t stand, and get stressed out while planning the perfect holiday party? To those of you who believe that the holidays should be outlawed, take heart. Nurse Hilary is here to tell you how to get through the holidays without loosing your mind.

Unfortunately, the holidays can be a lonely and stressful time of year, but there are ways of beating the blues. Setting realistic goals and priorities can keep the holidays from spinning out of control. Don’t get carried away with buying gifts. Happiness doesn’t come from a gift-wrapped box. Nurse Hilary thinks that the holidays have become too commercialized. She’s afraid that one day we will see commercials where Joseph tells Mary, “We’re going to have the baby in the stable. The inn-keeper won’t take American Express.” Parents go deep into debt while trying to create the perfect Christmas for their kids. Nurse Hilary says that this is not healthy. She encourages parents to keep the holidays simple, and to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas.

Family strife doesn’t disappear just because it’s Christmas time. Putting up a tree and covering it in tinsel won’t make hurt feelings and anger go away. Don’t feel compelled to spend time with people that make you miserable. If you are obligated to show up for a family function, say hello, have a glass of punch and one of Aunt Martha’s cookies, and then make a break for the door. You say you don’t have a family to visit during the Christmas season? Then make one of your own. Spend time with your friends, neighbors, or coworkers. Celebrate the holiday season with people who make you happy.

Don’t be a doormat. Practice saying the word no. “No, I won’t bake 200 cookies for your school Christmas party being held tomorrow.” “No, I won’t cook Christmas dinner for the entire family—again—by myself. I need help.” It’s all right not to be all things to all people. Set limits and celebrate a guilt-free holiday season.

The holidays may drive some people to drink, but over indulging in the Rum laced eggnog and other alcoholic beverages can lead to depression. Mixing alcohol with prescription or over the counter medications can be dangerous, and remember that drinking and driving is a fatal combination. If you have a holiday party, offer soft drinks and other nonalcoholic beverages. If guests become drunk, don’t let them drive themselves home. Call a taxi, let them spend the night, or have someone else take them home.

Nurse Hillary says it is possible to survive the holidays. She wishes you a happy holiday season.


Blogger Bohemian Road Nurse... said...

For years I always volunteered to work Christmas Eve and Christmas so that somebody with children could take the time off. But this year I'm actually going to get the holiday off--and I can't believe it--yeehah!

12:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe it-you have a blog! Can I tell you that the movie, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", is one of my all-time favorites, that I have a mental illness, and that I have spent as much a nine months in a mental hospital! I then worked in mental health for five years. I have been to Coos Bay, where Jack Nicholson took his fellow doctors and professors for a fishing trip. Your performance, as well as the rest of the cast, probably had a great deal to do with changing how mental health professionals treated their patients. So, thank you!

Holiday can be depressing and stressful for anyone, but the people I feel for are not the ones worying about perfect parties, or visits to less than likeable family. The ones I feel for are the ones out on the street, or in shelters, or in hospitals, or fighting oversees. These people are in situations that make every day an obstacle to overcome.

And, I feel for the hospital staff, too, that have to pull the holiday shift, missing that party or visit. And I especially feel for the staff in the hospice or ward where someone passes away.

But, life moves forward, babies are born, victories are won, jobs are gained, homes are sustained, there is much to be happy and thankful for.

And, we do the best we can to celebrate life. In the end, isn't that what a holiday is all about?

1:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, so, I just realized something-you aren't the real "Nurse Ratched." Right? I saw the picture, and I just assumed that was you. So, now, I don't know. Anyway, the rest of my post still applies, so, I'll lt it be...

1:11 AM  
Blogger Smalltown RN said...

Wonderful wonderful made a serious topic light hearted but to the point. Funny thing is my sister use to read Harlequin Romance novels all the time...and she is one who gives me stress this time of year. I think I will take nurse Hilary's advice on this one..have a cookie say hello and go...

Cheers my friend

8:41 AM  
Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

Nurse Hilary has a tough job ahead of her.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Shrinked Immaculate said...

You know, over here I often feel the same. Holidays are supposed to make you feel good, and sometimes whets troublesome is the fact that there is so much pressure to conform to that feeling even when you dont feel that way. It took me some time to be comfortable and not end up feeling more miserable after a festival. And then I realised that there are many just like me and its not neccessary to feel happy, or to have a date etc at all times.

2:47 PM  
Blogger poody said...

I plan on spending Christams in my jammies curled up on the couch watching TV and eating all my favorite foods. Thanks Nurse Hillary!

2:48 PM  
Blogger jaz said...

I have to leave the bottom one-fifth of my Christmas tree undecorated or my cats will swat the ornaments.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Serial Filler said...

So much for Nurse Hilary. What does Nursa Ratched have to say?

8:46 PM  
Blogger Mother Jones RN said...

You asked what do I think of the holidays. Well, I’m with Scrooge, Bah- Humbug.” There was a time when I really love the holidays, but those days went out the window when thing became too commercialized. I see kids admitted onto the unit after holidays because they didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas. It’s sad.

7:19 AM  
Blogger Lorena said...

Good advice! Husband and I decided to tell the kids that each of them will get 3 gifts because that's how many the baby Jesus got. With other gifts from family, that will be PLENTY. Thanks for mentioning the dangerous combination of medications and alcohol. Lots of people out there (me included) taking antidepressants should NOT drink alcohol. Love, love, love the door mat guy picture. Just said "No, I can't this year" to a request for a party platter for a church function that I won't even be going to. Thought of you!

12:51 PM  
Blogger JustCallMeJo said...

Good advice, MJ.

Merry merry to you!

7:20 PM  
Blogger ~Autumn said...

#1. I wish I had nurse Hilary's eyes. WOW! #2. I'm saying no to buying gifts for people I hardly ever see, and never call me.

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MJ, bully for you. I'm a cancer patient in chemo and my health care providers and family members are getting all hinky on me because I've announced that no, I am not going home for Christmas this year (home is 1,000 miles away). Of course they're all thinking (but not saying) that this could be my last Christmas with them. If I have to travel that far and hang out with a few dozen snotty-nosed children in my fatigued, immunocompromised state, it certainly will be, but can you get people off this "you must need family/Christmas cheer rap"? No, you cannot.

I'm standing my ground, however. If I don't feel like just hanging out at home on Christmas, I will head to the cancer center and spend some quality time with the Best. Human Beings. Ever. (That's Onc Nurses). Now there are some stockings I'll be happy to fill with whatever good things I can come up with.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Suldog said...

This article is now featured at:

Thank you for your submission!

1:22 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

I love the picture of the "human door mat!" That must have hurt!

12:33 AM  
Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

Nurse Hillary isn't running for President is she?

3:19 PM  
Blogger Amrita said...

I agree with you MJ.

In India its much less but quite bad indeed. I hate the commercialization of Christmas.Some very good advice there.

My sis and family who live in Canada want to get away from it too.

6:12 AM  

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