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Welcome back from vacation, nurses, try not to panic

Shutterstock | Pavel Ilyukhin
Shutterstock | Pavel Ilyukhin

So you took a vacation, did ya? Good for you. We’re entirely certain that you needed it.

That said, we want to help prepare you for the inevitable: vacation withdrawal, also known as PVD (post-vacation disorder).

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If you’ve experienced PVD, you know exactly what kind of symptoms we’re talking about:

  • A sudden and irrational fear of alarm clocks
  • A lack of focus/emotional fragility
  • A refusal to unpack
  • An abrupt craving for exotic fruits, fresh fish and cocktails
  • An unhealthy obsession with desktop backgrounds
  • Unreasonable expectations that the bed will make itself and fresh towels will always be available

Needless to say, returning to work can be a real shock—physically and emotionally. We suggest that you adhere to the following guidelines to reduce the trauma and better cope with the transition.

1. If you’ve just returned from a successful sabbatical and you have the luxury of enjoying a few days at home prior to returning to work, make sure to practice waking up early, as you will stumble before you walk.

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We recommend that you reduce your total snooze time in increments of two to three hours per day. If 11am is the best you can manage on Day 1 (we understand), aim for 9am on Day 2. Make a bolder leap and your body may revolt.

2. Invest in a sound machine—preferably one that emits the subtle sounds of the ocean, perhaps a mariachi band. Lay a towel on top of your sheets if you must—sand is absolutely taking it too far.

3. Consider swapping out your favorite on-duty coffee mug for a hollow coconut/straw. No, we’re not suggesting that you consume an alcoholic drink at work (however fruity). We simply think that sipping on your coffee from a coconut will confuse your brain, just enough to consider the possibility that you are relaxing on a secluded beach—not toweling an unspeakable substance off of your scrubs. (And thanks to your old friend, caffeine, you’ll still feel positively wired).

4. Wait until you’re feeling slightly less fragile (approximately three to four days) before attempting to respond to all of the texts/emails/voicemails that have accumulated during your absence. It’s really just better that way. Unless it’s your mom. Always call your mom.

5. Don’t try to slip back too quickly into whatever health kick you were on prior to your vacation. Indulge when you need to; if you’re craving gelato, then have that gelato. 

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Yoga is okay, we guess. That part personal hell/part spin class is definitely not.

6. Make sure your friends and family are prepared to support you while you recover. We’re not really sure what that means, but we’re pretty sure it’s comparable to the phrase “walking on eggshells.”

7. Two words: happy hour.

8. Repeat #7.

We know that these tips and tricks won’t completely fill the GAPING hole in your heart now that vacation is over, but it’s a start. Plus, you gain an excuse for happy hour, so there’s that.

Veteran nurses, what’s your best advice for transitioning back into work mode? 

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