As a nursing student, you spend most of your time learning how to look after other people. You devote your career to providing healthcare to those in need, often going way beyond the call of duty to achieve the best possible outcomes for your patients. However, do you ever stop to think about whether you are caring for yourself properly?
The ups and downs of nursing study
It is no secret that studying to be a nurse can be difficult at times. Not only do you have a packed schedule of classes and clinical hours, but you also need to find the time to complete assignments and undertake independent learning. This is all on top of the fact that nursing can be a high-pressure environment to work in, where you have to deal with emotionally challenging situations on a regular basis. Of course, that shouldn’t put you off pursuing this career! Nursing is a very rewarding job to embark on. The high levels of employability, career satisfaction and job security that you’ll enjoy make all the hard work well worth it – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take steps to stay physically and mentally healthy while you study. Not only will doing so prevent you from burning out, but it will also give you the best chance of graduating with flying colors. Read on for some top tips!
Up your organization skills
Being well organized is one of the best tactics to avoid being overwhelmed by your college work. For example, ensure that you keep track of all your assignments and their due dates, and aim to complete your work far in advance of the deadline. This will ensure that you have plenty of time to do each assignment to the best of your ability and won’t need to pull any stressful all-nighters to make sure you submit them on time. This is particularly important for those completing flexible degrees such as accelerated BSN programs online alongside existing work and family commitments. You might find that you have a lot on your plate at certain points, but strong time management skills can make all the difference!
A big part of looking after both your physical and mental health is ensuring that you eat a healthy and balanced diet. This is even more crucial for students, because what you eat can affect your cognitive abilities too. Try and aim for a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. You also want to avoid sugary sodas and energy drinks, and instead drink six to eight glasses of water a day. Staying hydrated is vital for keeping your memory and concentration at their best, and therefore key for your academic success. Don’t worry though – you don’t have to completely give up coffee or chocolate!
Being physically active is another key aspect of staying healthy. In fact, it’s especially important for nursing students, because you’ll often be on your feet all day when doing clinical placements and therefore require high levels of stamina. Don’t be put off if you hate running and the gym though, as any form of exercise counts. This could include dance classes, gymnastics, team sports, martial arts, yoga, climbing, hiking and much more – anything that gets you motivated! If you’re studying on campus, why not try out some fitness options that your college runs? It could also be a great way to meet new people.
Get plenty of sleep
We all know that a good night’s sleep is vital if we want to feel refreshed and alert, but did you know that a lack of sleep can actually impair your memory, concentration, and ability to learn? That’s why students should aim to get the recommended six to eight hours of sleep every night. For those who struggle to doze off or stay asleep, there are a number of tactics you can try. These include wearing an eye mask, hanging blackout curtains, sticking to a regular sleep schedule, and avoiding caffeine and screen time late at night. Sleep stories, breathing exercises and meditation can also be effective ways to prepare your body for bed.
Connect with others
Being a nursing student often involves long hours and a heavy workload, which can make it easy to become isolated as you no longer have time free to spend with friends and family. However, as we’ve all learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, meaningful social interaction is key for our wellbeing. Try to arrange regular meetups or phone calls with your loved ones or join social groups at your college. This will not only boost your mood, but it can also help you to get your mind off your studies for a little while. One top tip is to try and develop strong connections with the other students on your course, whether that’s in person or digitally, so that you can help each other to succeed.
Many people feel guilty about setting aside time for self-care, but this is actually key for our wellbeing. Whether it’s a long hot bath, a walk in the countryside, or spending quality time on your hobbies, all students should be sure to include self-care in their weekly schedule. The action itself doesn’t matter so much as the feeling it evokes – whatever makes you feel happy and positive can work. Self-care is an effective way to reduce stress, which in turn helps your brain to function at its best and your body to stay healthy. All of which makes it more likely that you’ll succeed on your nursing course.
Remember why you’re studying to become a nurse
During your nursing degree, there may well be times when you feel as though your studies are too hard, and perhaps you even question whether you made the right choice by signing up. If you find yourself in a negative spiral of doubt, take a step back and remind yourself why you enrolled on the program in the first place. This will help to reignite your motivation, even when the going gets tough, and push yourself to study that little bit harder. As a nursing student, you have a fantastically rewarding and fulfilling career to look forward to. Never forget that!