I love February! Want to know why? Well, first off, it means we’ve made it through January—and thank goodness, because January is always a tough month with the end of the holidays, putting away the decorations, paying the bills, ugghh…And then of course there is the January weather! Wow, this year has been awful with the record cold temperatures and terrible winter storms. I landed in Atlanta one day and saw big piles of snow on the runways…What’s up with that? So when February 1 rolled around, I said good riddance to January; now we are in the home stretch of winter.
But that is not the only reason I love February: I also love February because as we make our way to spring, we get our shortest month…28 fast days. And to top it all off, smack dab in the middle of those 28 days is Valentine’s Day, the day devoted to love. How magnificent!
I am urging all of you to really celebrate the holiday of love this year, and to use it as the perfect catalyst to chase out any negativity that crept back in during January after the fun of the holiday season or even stuck with you during the first part of February. When I was working at Holy Cross Hospital, we celebrated Valentine’s Day for an entire week, and when you do that, you can’t help but chase away the winter blahs and the negativity that goes with it.
So here are six days’ worth of suggestions to choose from:
- Coworkers. Remember how fun it was to get those cute valentines in those little envelopes at school? Guess what: It still is! Can you imagine looking in your mailbox at work and finding ten tiny cards? Encourage your colleagues to pick out valentines that best suit them, like Bob the Builder from the person who’s always remodeling their home, or Snoopy from a pet lover, or Strawberry Shortcake from a petite team member.
- Customers. These can be patients or internal customers. For patients, you could give red pens with pink hearts on them along with the hospital’s or department’s name. You also could have something printed on the pens such as, “We love our imaging patients.” Internal departments could do something sweet for their customers: IS/IT Departments could spend time out on the units cleaning keyboards, and Marketing Departments could coordinate a poster contest for support departments to acknowledge the internal departments that they serve. The posters could be displayed and voted on in the cafeteria.
- Colleagues. How about those folks in other departments who make your life easier? For example, simple cards signed by everyone in your department given to the cafeteria folks who always wait that extra minute when you are running late to catch the last serving time, or to the housekeepers who know what your floor needs even before you page them are sure to be appreciated.
- Physicians. We know that Doctor’s Day is in March, but how about a little preview? You could do baskets of those conversation hearts or Hershey’s kisses in the physicians’ lounge or at the doctors’ entrance if you have a separate one. An amusing heart-shaped sign above each basket (I mean, you want them to know where the treats came from!) could read, “At ABC Medical Center, we love our physicians,” or, “Memorial physicians are really sweet”…Okay, maybe that’s a little too much, but you get the idea.
- Families and visitors. Imagine how great it would be if one day during Valentine’s week, visitors were surprised with free coffee and heart-shaped cookies. The treats don’t have to be extravagant or costly—just a cart with some decorations and perhaps a placard that reads, “We love our families and friends.”
- Staff. If you are a leader, now is the perfect time to let your team know how much you appreciate them. My all-time favorite, which also became a tradition, were heart-shaped pink bagels…Yep, I said pink bagels. A local bagel place did them every year, and of course they were served with strawberry cream cheese. Baskets of candy also work, as does sending flowers because they last for several days (meaning several shifts).
I promise you, with all this love and celebration going on for a week, it will chase negativity right out of the place. The next thing you know, it will be February 21…Then, poof, only one more week ’til the end of the month. And we all know what that means: March and, hallelujah, SPRING!
Liz Jazwiec is a recognized national speaker and author of Eat That Cookie!, winner of the AJN 2010 Book of the Year Award.