Working during the holidays is a fact of life with your profession. Holidays can include any special day: the big game, the season finale, the family milestone, etc. Even if you get the time off, a big event can result in you being recalled. While others get to spend time with their family and friends, you end up on the streets working calls – calls that are probably the worst ones of the year. Here are 9 tips to make the best of it:
- Celebrate when the rest of world must work. Recognizing holidays on off times has several benefits: cheaper travel, less crowds, more access to overstock sales, and maybe most importantly, more intention. It is easier to plan a celebration when everyone else is in the same mode. It takes purposeful care to plan meaningful memories when the rest of the world is back to work. Your conscious effort will make everything all the more special.
- Keep things in perspective. Know why you do what you do. Know who you are and what’s important to you. These insights will help you determine your priorities and keep you on task when the holiday blues start rearing their gloomy head. Having a solid foundation and vision of yourself will keep you grounded.
- Manage expectations. This includes the expectations of not only your loved ones but also yourself. Before a holiday hits, have a plan in place that ensures that everyone understands not only your schedule but also your commitment to them. And since it’s the holidays, your circle should also discuss both what their AND your emotional needs are during the season. Even if you are in a festive spirit, you will be on duty facing people at their worst — encountering the effects of increased travel, imbibing, domestic disputes and heightened tempers. You will need loving support.
- Allow life to move on. Those around you want you to be involved — sometimes to a fault. This is especially true if you do shift work through the holidays. For example, they might want to stay up to the wee hours for your arrival home. The entire group might skip an event if you can’t go. This is where you should release them of stopping everything, every time, for your absence. Life must keep going. Reassure them the precious overlaps that you can spend together will be a priority. That said; try not to shove too much into those times. The over-scheduling will eventually backfire.
- Adjust your attitude. Closely related to the previous tip, the way you approach your job will greatly influence you and those around you. Your team is all in the same boat so no one wants to hear negativity the entire shift. Maybe indulge in a moment of empathy amongst the team, but that’s it. You can’t truly control anything but yourself, and you must decide you will positively make the most out of your time. You must decide you will be the light to your team and to the public. You never know when a well-placed smile or kind gesture will turn around a day, a year or a life.
- Be an example. Those with kids know that lessons in service and sacrifice are important to raising future adults that contribute to their communities. Your example of giving up your holidays so that others can rest and enjoy won’t go unnoticed. In the public, most people are thankful (although they might not admit it) for your call to duty. Traffic jams, the stranded motorist, the turkey fire and the opportunist thief are all situations that you help address for the betterment of everyone else.
- Find gratefulness. Concentrate on what you have rather than what you don’t have. The very fact of having a job is something not everyone you serve can say. Having a community around you that will rush to your aid and has your back when asked is also something that others envy. You embody the things people want in parades and inspire children to dream. And face it, the lights and sirens are still pretty cool.
- Indulge a little. Make sure you can look forward to something. Maybe you will use your overtime pay for a vacation or big purchase. Maybe you can finally pay off a debt. Maybe you will just snuggle up with your family and watch that new release after your shift. No matter what it is, you want to have the brightest light at the end of that tunnel.
- Seek help. Years on the job can take a toll. From an unusual short temper to broken relationships, continual sacrifices have a cost. Dealing with this is not a weakness. It is just human. Remember, it takes valor and strength to step up when others do not. Help can take many forms: mentors, discussion boards or even counseling. Some agencies provide counseling for their teams during the holidays in anticipation of holiday stress. Others organize support groups or programs to help keep their team stay functional and professional. Don’t just bottle it up.
We at Galls thank you for all you do. We are so humbled and proud to serve you. Help us support your peers by sharing other ways you cope with the holidays below: