Navigating Holiday Madness: A Guide for December Shift Workers

by Isioma Daniel, 5 minutes read
HOME blog navigating holiday madness a guide for december shift workers

Generous gifts, delicious food, sparkling lights, cosy decorations, heart-warming time with friends and family - the holiday season brings joy and excitement, but it can also be challenging for shift workers. 

The demanding holiday season is why Deputy celebrated shift workers on Shift Worker Sunday, the last Sunday in November, right before the intensity of December begins. Balancing work obligations with personal commitments while keeping the holiday spirit alive can seem like a tall order for many shift workers. 

But don’t let the holiday rush turn you into a Grinch! With the right strategies, you can navigate this busy time efficiently while keeping your holiday spirit intact. This practical guide will arm you as a shift worker with actionable tips and tricks to effectively manage your workload and enjoy a stress-free holiday season. 

The Challenge: Juggling Work and Holiday Festivities

The first step is for shift workers and their managers to understand why working shifts during the holidays are so stressful. 

  1. Increased Workload: Shift workers often experience a surge in demand during the holiday season as businesses extend their operating hours. This uptick can lead to longer shifts and increased workloads, making managing time effectively and prioritising tasks crucial.

  2. Limited Personal Time: With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, shift workers may find it challenging to carve out quality time for themselves and their loved ones. Balancing family obligations, social events, and personal commitments requires careful planning and effective time management. 

  3. Balancing Work-Life Commitments: Shift workers may need help to balance their work responsibilities and personal lives during the holiday season. Finding time for holiday shopping, attending gatherings, and participating in festive activities can be daunting, but it’s essential to prioritise self-care and personal well-being. 

The Solution: Practical Strategies for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

  1. Prioritise Work-Life Balance: Ask if your business can use scheduling tools like Deputy to plan your shifts ahead of time. When you have a clear view of your work schedule, you can balance work commitments with personal activities. Remember, saying “no” to extra shifts is okay if it means preserving your mental health and well-being. With the right scheduling app, you can request to swap shifts easily and directly without back and forths with managers. 

  2. Plan Your Schedule Wisely: One of the biggest challenges during the holiday season is the irregular work hours that disrupt your routine. Review your work schedule and identify gaps or overlaps affecting your commitments. If possible, request your shifts in advance so you can plan your holiday events accordingly. You’ll be better equipped to manage your time effectively with a clear schedule. 

  3. Stay Organised: Keep track of your tasks in an organised system. Whether it’s a digital app or a good old-fashioned planner, having a visual representation of your responsibilities can help you manage your time effectively. 

  4. Communicate Effectively: Talk to your employer or supervisor about your availability and any scheduling conflicts that may arise. Open and honest communication can help find mutually beneficial solutions and avoid unnecessary stress. 

  5. Prioritise Self-Care: Working long hours and dealing with holiday stress can affect your well-being. Make self-care a top priority. Ensure you get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise regularly. Prioritise relaxing activities that bring you joy and help you unwind, such as reading, listening to music, or practising mindfulness. These habits will boost your energy levels, reduce stress, and help you stay resilient when facing challenges. 

  6. Set Boundaries:  Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Determine specific times dedicated to self-care, family time, and holiday festivities. Communicate these boundaries to those around you, ensuring they understand and respect your commitment. On Deputy, with your manager, you can cap the number of hours you work by reducing unnecessary overtime. The app will notify your manager if you’re at risk of going over. 

  7. Be Proactive with Relationship Obligations: The holiday season is about spending quality time with family and friends. Communicate with your family about your work schedule if it clashes with holiday gatherings. Plan family activities and get-togethers around your shifts so you don’t miss out on precious moments with them. Explain your situation and negotiate alternative dates or times for celebrations. Being transparent about your schedule can help your family understand your commitments. 

  8. Seek Support: Lean on your co-workers for support. Remember, they’re facing the same challenges as you are. Sharing suggestions and offering mutual support can go a long way. Your friends and family can also be a valuable source of understanding during this hectic time. Delegate any life admin tasks when possible, and don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed. 

  9. Discover Small Joys: Embrace the holiday spirit during your shifts by finding simple pleasures in your daily routine. Decorate your workspace, listen to festive music during your shift, wear holiday-themed accessories, organise a gift exchange with colleagues during breaks, or engage in small acts of kindness towards customers. These small gestures can go a long way in boosting morale and spreading cheer. 

  10. Create Special Moments: Even if you can’t attend every event or celebration, find ways to create memorable moments during your off hours. Host a small gathering with close friends and cook a festive meal. These moments can help you feel connected and bring holiday cheer to your workplace.

  11. Take Advantage of Time Off: Make the most of your time off during the holidays. Plan short getaways or day trips to relax and rejuvenate. Use this time to catch up on rest, engage in your favourite hobbies, or volunteer for a charitable cause. Balancing work and leisure is your key to enjoying the holiday season as much as possible. 

  12. Manage Holiday Stress: The holidays can be stressful for everyone, not just shift workers. Practice stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to stay grounded, centred and calm amidst the chaos. 

  13. Embrace the Spirit of Giving: The holiday season is also a time for giving back. Consider participating in charity events or volunteering opportunities. Acts of kindness and generosity can bring immense joy and fulfilment, making your holiday season more meaningful. 

Fred Houlder, Hospitality Master at Honest Burgers, says, “Using Deputy has made managing my work-life balance so much easier. I can easily swap shifts, plan my breaks, and communicate with my team, leaving more time to plan my life outside of work.”

As a shift worker, you face unique challenges during the holiday season, but with proper planning and self-care, you can overcome these hurdles and enjoy a joyful and memorable time with your loved ones and have fun at work. Remember that the essence of the holidays lies in the moments you create and share with your coworkers, friends and family and the love you share, regardless of your work schedule.

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