Four million nurses currently work in the United States, with 60% of them in hospitals. While most of the U.S. workforce functions during regular business hours (Monday through Friday, nine to five), hospitals are open every day of the week, overnight, weekends, and holidays. Since hospitals can’t take a day off, a nurse’s commitment is to be there for patients on holidays.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, most nurses have their schedules set. They know if they’ll be working that day, and whether it’s at home with loved ones, a single ladies Gal-entine’s Day, or bringing a little extra love to co-workers in the breakroom, nurses will start planning their celebrations.
Even if you’re one of the nurses working on Valentine’s Day, there are multiple ways to celebrate at work, after work, or on a different day, with yourself, friends, or a loved one.
1. Make Valentines for your Co-Workers & Patients:
Hospitals (such as Cedars Sinai, for example) have created programs for staff and patients to create Valentine’s cards for patients. In 2021, they created over 1000 cards, which was more than enough for every patient in the hospital. Start a program similar to this at your hospital, and employ patients and other nurses to make cards for each other and other units. See if you can pass them out with small pieces of candy throughout the hospital on the holiday so you can watch the patients’ faces light up.
2. Have a Party in the Breakroom!
It’s also very common for hospital units to have holiday parties. For Valentine’s Day, organize a small party and pass out your own Valentine’s like in elementary school. Bring some fun-themed food or desserts to have during your lunch break and celebrate with your coworkers.
3. Celebrate After Work
Even nurses don’t work for the entire 24 hours in a day, whether you’re a day or night shift nurse. You have 12 hours off every workday that can be used for small celebrations during holidays. If you’re working on Valentine’s Day this year, make some plans for when you get off work. Meet some friends or a partner at a restaurant for a special dinner (or breakfast) after your shift. Bring flowers home for your partner and exchange gifts. Have a date night by watching a romantic movie. Little celebrations before and after work are a great way to integrate the holiday into your routine as a nurse.
4. Celebrate Love on Your Own Day
The easiest and most common way of celebrating holidays as a nurse is to just do it on a different day. So, this year, if you’re working on Valentine’s Day, celebrate the day before, the day after, the week after, whatever works with your schedule. Make it a whole day with friends, a romantic night out, a weekend away with your partner, or spend it pampering and loving yourself.
Celebrating holidays has been shown to improve mental health by lowering your cortisol levels, improving sleep, and giving extra time with loved ones. Recently, more than 40% of nurses described their mental health as “very bad”, which can be partially attributed to the pandemic impacts over the last two years. Finding small things like celebrating Valentine’s Day can brighten you and your colleagues’ day, and help everyone’s mental health, even if just a little bit.
Whether you are currently in a relationship or not, Valentine’s Day is about celebrating Love. Celebrate Love for your family, your friends, your partner, yourself, and your patients this Valentine’s Day whether you’re working or not.
We love you
Alison Shely, DNP, FNP-C
Alison Shely is a nurse practitioner, nurse coach, and nurse content writer who specializes in articles, guest blogger, and healthcare worker wellness. She has been in nursing since 2014, working in intensive care, women’s health, and primary care as a registered nurse and family nurse practitioner. She has written for a variety of publications including Rncareers.org and is also the winner of the 2020 Shift Report writing contest for Next Level Nursing. Her specialty topics include mental health, health and wellness, yoga philosophy and practice, and community health. She also serves as a health coach and mentor to other nurses and healthcare workers concerning healthy lifestyles and mental health.