It’s no secret that studying to become a nurse can be tough at times. You might find yourself with a packed schedule of classes and clinical hours, as well as assignments to complete in your own time. This is in addition to the high-pressure work environment and emotionally challenging situations that you are likely to have to deal with. Of course, the rewarding and altruistic career it leads to makes the effort well worth it, but you should ensure that you take steps to stay mentally and physically healthy during your studies. This will help to prevent burn out and give you the best chance of passing all your exams and assignments with flying colors. Here are some of our top tips.
Table of Contents
A key method to prevent you becoming overwhelmed by your schoolwork is to be well organized right from the start. For example, try and complete all of your assignments comfortably in advance of the deadlines so that you don’t have to pull a stressful all-nighter. This will also help to ensure that you get better marks, as you will be able to dedicate more time to each piece of work. Likewise, set aside some time every day or every week to do some reading to make sure that you stay on top of things. Organization is especially important if you’ve chosen a flexible distance learning course such as an online ABSN, which allows you to work alongside your existing job or family commitments.
We all know that what we eat makes a huge difference to our physical and mental health. This is particularly important when we’re studying because it can also affect our concentration and other cognitive functions. Following a largely plant-based diet that’s packed with fresh fruit and vegetables as well as whole grains, nuts and seeds is an effective way to get all the nutrients that you need. You should also make sure to cut down on sugary sodas and drink about two liters of water a day. This is key, because dehydration has been shown to have negative effects on your memory, focus and other aspects of cognitive function that are crucial to academic success.
Get plenty of sleep
A good night’s sleep is essential if you want to feel alert and refreshed. Lack of sleep has been linked to impaired concentration, poorer memory and difficulty learning, so as a nursing student it is particularly important to get your recommended six to eight hours of shuteye a night. If you struggle to doze off, try doing some deep breathing exercises before bed. Other tips include avoiding caffeine and screen time late at night and sticking to a regular sleep schedule – even on weekends. When you’re laying in bed unable to sleep, instead of getting annoyed try getting up and doing a calming activity such as reading a book or listening to music. Then go back to bed when you feel more tired.
Take regular exercise
Staying physically active is another important factor for our health and wellbeing. The good news is that this doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym or force yourself to go jogging if you hate those activities. Instead, try and find an active hobby that you love. This could be yoga, dance, gymnastics, soccer, tennis or martial arts for just some examples. That way you’ll look forward to doing exercise rather than see it as a chore. Keeping physically fit is especially important for nursing students because you will often be on your feet all day during your clinical placements as well as later once you’ve graduated and are working as a fully qualified nurse. This aspect of the job requires good levels of stamina.
Set strict boundaries between study and personal time
As well as being academically rigorous and requiring excellent clinical skills, studying to become a nurse can be emotionally challenging sometimes. You might find yourself dealing with difficult patients or having to handle upsetting situations. As such it’s important to set clear boundaries between your studies and your home life. This will help to prevent the job from having a negative impact on your mental wellbeing. It can be hard to switch off when you’re a nursing student because you feel as though there is always more that you could be doing but learning to do so will serve you well throughout your career.
Due to the long hours and high workload involved in studying to become a nurse, it’s easy to find yourself isolated. You might not have as much time to meet friends and family as you used to, but it’s important to still stay connected with your loved ones. Try to arrange regular meetups if you can or even just chat on the phone. This will help you to get your mind off your studies, even if just for a short time.
When you’re a nursing student, it’s vital to look after yourself. After all, if you don’t, then how will you be able to care for others? Set aside some time every week for selfcare. This could be a long bath, a meal out with your partner, quality time spent on your favorite hobbies, reading a good book or going for a walk in the countryside. Anything that cheers you up and makes you feel positive and energized for the week ahead!
Remember why you’re doing this
There will likely be times during your studies when it feels too hard and you wonder if you’ve made the right choice. If that happens, take a step back and remember why you enrolled on the program in the first place. Becoming a nurse is a wonderful opportunity to dedicate yourself to helping other people, and after you graduate you have a wonderfully fulfilling and rewarding career to look forward to. Reminding yourself of your personal reasons for wanting to be a nurse will help you to stay motivated even when the going gets tough and push yourself to work that little bit harder.