The songwriters tell us this is the most wonderful time of the year. And it can be – but many of us wind up redefining “wonderful” as “stressful.” Travel nurses are no different. Balancing life on the road with seasonal expectations and obligations can make navigating the holidays that much more difficult.

Add in a global pandemic and increased healthcare needs across the board this season… and yeah. Stressful sounds a little more realistic than wonderful.

So what are your options? How will you do all the things this holiday season?

Know your limits.

That rhetorical question we just asked? You can’t. You can’t do all the things – at least not if you want to stay sane and healthy. Step one in navigating the holidays is realizing your  limits. Here’s a couple things to keep in mind:

To thine own self be true.

No one will know you better than yourself. So before you start taking random advice from a blog, take some time to rest and reflect  to figure out what you really need and want this holiday season. Knowing this should make evaluating your priorities and plotting your holiday plan a little easier.

While you’re resting and reflecting, now is a great time to take stock of your emotional and mental health. It’s been a tough year. And while we have some tips on staying positive, don’t be afraid to ask for help from family, friends, or a professional if you need it.

Have healthy, open conversations.

It’s also important to check in with your household and other family and friends to know what they’re expecting or planning this holiday season. This year is bound to look a little different due to the pandemic. Good, open communication will help reset normal expectations or obligations as everyone adjusts to the reality that is 2020.

Okay, so you’ve figured out how you want to celebrate the holidays and what those closest to you are expecting. So what’re your options? Obviously, this list can’t be exhaustive, but what follows are some of the main options for travel pros.

Exploring your holiday options:

Travel somewhere fun.

Whether you have relatively few holiday obligations or your family can travel with you, this is an excellent possibility if you find the right assignment. Do you live in a veritable ice cave and want to go somewhere warm? SoCal is always looking for new travel professionals. Ever wanted to see the tree and go ice skating in Rockefeller Center? Consider an assignment in NYC. Maybe getting away someplace new or exciting is precisely what 2020 calls for. Make sure to check that whatever activities you’re excited about are still happening this year and make a plan to do them safely, but if you’re going to travel for work anyway, make it fun.

Make a difference.

Or maybe fun isn’t what you need this year. You know how crazy the end of the year can be in healthcare. And it’s like that everywhere – especially during a pandemic. Cases are spiking across the country and many places are incredibly short-staffed. Consider finding a hard-hit location where you can truly make a difference in patients’ lives this holiday season. The gift of care you give may turn a traumatic moment into an almost forgettable memory for someone. Not to mention, you’ll be reducing the stress of the facility staff and scheduling personnel. As a healthcare professional you’re likely already wired to want to help, and giving to others is often exactly what our heart needs.

Maximize your earnings.

Those of us with kids or teens in our lives know that their wishlist only gets more expensive. So if avoiding holiday debt (or paying off what you’ve already spent) is a priority, look for travel or local assignments that are paying more this season. Additionally, you can volunteer to pick up the holiday shifts for a better hourly rate. And with lots of facilities needing help, you can also pick up per diem shifts either in your home or travel market in your downtime.

Stay home.

It’s been a long, challenging year for all of us. Maybe navigating the holidays  means merely staying home and spending some time with those closest to you (safely, of course). If your finances can swing it – taking a few weeks off to thoroughly soak in the holiday cheer may be the best option for you. Of course if your finances can’t swing it but you’re in a healthy market for per diem shifts, you can stay home and keep working. Just make sure you take time for yourself and the things that are most important to you and your loved ones.

So what’s the right choice?

Your priorities  are  one of those questions that only you can answer. Navigating the holidays is never easy, especially for someone who spends so much time on the road. Taking time to know what’s truly important to you is key, as well as setting expectations with your family and friends. Whatever you do, please keep yourself, the ones you love, and your patients as safe as possible. You’re in healthcare; you know the drill: Stay in your bubble as much as possible, mask up, and stay distant or outdoors when you can’t.

And from all of us at Medely to you, Happy Holidays!