3 minute read

ASCs are notoriously busy this time of year. Patients want to have their surgeries because their deductibles have been met, children are out of school and need tonsillectomies, family members are in town to help during recovery, and so on.

Short staffing issues combined with extended hours are demanding enough. Then, here comes the holiday season to intensify stress levels even further!

Be it burn out, stress out, or wear out, here are a few tried and true coping mechanisms. Try one (or all) of these options to relieve the pressure mounting within. With a little bit of help, you can make it through the holiday season with your body, mind, and soul intact.


Balance – Strive for balance in everything you do.

Food: Sugar spikes and dives will cause undue stress and fatigue. Limiting sugar intake can sometimes be impossible, so be sure to add in protein and good fats. Treat the buffet of sweets in the break room as a tasting menu and take tiny bites of each kind of deliciousness. Remember, too much sugar, salt, and fat can impact your motivation, mood, and energy.

Hydration: We tend to underestimate the importance of adequate water intake and forget to hydrate altogether when we’re busy. Dehydration can often take a toll on the body and make you feel downright crummy.

Sleep: Be good to yourself and go to bed early. You will get things done faster when you are not exhausted. Since naps are generally frowned upon at work, ten minutes of downtime (peace and quiet without a cell phone or screens) will give you the strength to move forward.

Prioritization: Prioritize things that must get done. The rest can wait or, frankly, not get done at all.


Great expectations The only one expecting perfection is you.

Lose the perfection mentality. All you want is for the holidays to be memorable and meaningful, but if you’re striving for a perfect holiday, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of stress and disappointment. Perfection rarely exists, and chasing it will only make you crazy. Let go of having the “perfect Martha Stewart” holiday and embrace an authentic, “good enough” one.

Ask for help. It would be best if you didn’t have to do it all or do it alone. You don’t have to be nice (sorry, Santa). It is okay to ask for help or simply say no. You can say no kindly instead of yes to your detriment. Be honest with yourself, family, friends, and coworkers. Now may not be the best time to take the extra call or cover shifts. The money might be tempting, but the result may be exhaustion.

It’s okay not to be okay. If you feel overwhelmed, let it out. The holidays can bring up a lot of emotional baggage. Stress about money, missing a lost loved one, or spending time with difficult family members can crack even the strongest of us. Keeping everything in is not a long-term solution. Talk to a coworker, friend, or someone you trust to provide you with a safe space to vent without judgment. Moan, complain, commiserate, and “Grinch” it out.


Perspective – This too shall pass.

Live in the moment. Take a break from social media. Falling prey to the comparison game can compound the stress. Make memories. They will matter far more than the gifts, meals, and décor.

Smile (even if you don’t feel like it). There’s something to be said for faking it ‘til you make it. If you’re feeling the opposite of happy, try grinning from ear to ear. Just the act of smiling can uplift you. And, you might as well hum a happy holiday tune while you’re at it. Music soothes the beast in all of us.

Take some slow, deep breaths. Studies have shown that this simple act can increase positivity, decrease emotional reactivity, improve brain health, and promote feelings of calmness.

Unplug this holiday and be present. When possible, put down the phone, iPad, and laptop. You are missing nothing better on the internet than the chance to connect with real people.


These are only a few, but I encourage you to give it a try. Don’t give up if you haven’t found the right one for you. Too much work and not enough hours in the day will always be an issue. Balance, expectations, and perspective are ways we can all cope with the constant pressure to be everything to all people. Plus, if you don’t get through the season with calm, grace, and ease, there’s always next year!


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