School is stressful to begin with, but throw the word ‘nursing’ in front of that, and you have a prescription for a meltdown. In a profession where helping others is the goal, it’s easy to sometimes forget to look out for your own wellbeing. Whether you’re just starting out in the nursing field or you’re advancing your degree, it’s essential to stay on top of your health and be proactive when managing stress. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered with 5 tricks for nursing school stress relief.
1. Food is fuel
As much as we all wish it did, coffee from Starbucks does not count as a meal! Food is fuel, and it’s incredibly important to ensure you’re giving your body the nutrients it needs. Running off of caffeine and adrenaline isn’t sustainable, and an energy crash will be inevitable in the near future. It may seem impossible to squeeze time in for meals when you are jam packed with classes and study sessions. However, meal prepping easy meals and snacks that you can take on the go for those busy days is crucial for nursing school stress relief. Eating the right nutrients will give you the energy and focus you need to ace those exams. Check out some of these healthy snacks for some inspiration:
- Trail mix
- Greek Yogurt
- Peanut butter and apple slices
- Vegetables and hummus dip
- Dried fruit
- Granola bars
Take the extra time to throw a snack into your backpack before you head out for the day, trust me you’ll be thanking yourself later.
2. Learn to say “no”
You already have enough on your plate, so don’t bite off more than you can chew. Your time is precious, so use it wisely and saying “no” to plans that interfere with studying or simply stress you out. It can get overwhelming trying to manage school life while finding time for a social life. But remember that you are your first priority, and you have to look out for your own wellbeing! Even if there is a party that everyone is going to. When you need to study for an exam, take a word of advice from a wise one: “There will always be another party.” Being a student is hard and time consuming! Carve out some “me time” every once and awhile and allow yourself to have some nursing school stress relief.
3. Manage your time
Nursing is a very demanding profession, which explains why nursing school is no cake walk. However, managing your time is the best way to manage stress. Even when the workload may seem overwhelming and all you want to do is drop out, you can always find some nursing school stress relief. Time management isn’t always the easiest skill to master, but it’s definitely one of the most important. Learning to manage your time will set the foundation to succeed in nursing school, and beyond that into your career.
The best thing you can do to keep yourself organized and manage your time is to create a schedule. At the beginning of the semester, map out all of the important due dates and deadlines for your classes. Write them in a location that you can easily refer to, and check them often to keep yourself on task. It also may be helpful to sit down every Sunday before the start of the week and organize how you will spend your days – but remember to keep it realistic! Overscheduling yourself will only lead to more stress.
4. Get your ZZZs
Sure, one late night won’t take a serious toll on your health. But if this becomes a habit, a lack of sleep can lead to a host of other problems. Memory issues, trouble concentrating, anxiety, lack of coordination – the list goes on and on. Struggling to focus in class or failing to remember important information can be detrimental to a nursing student. Rather than relying on your caffeine fix to keep you alert, try focusing on the root of the problem. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep as a nursing student may seem impossible, but your body is depending on it! To be the best student you can be, you need to get proper rest. It may seem like a difficult task, but try establishing some healthier habits so you can get a good night’s sleep.
- Avoid napping during the day, as this throws your body off and makes it harder to fall asleep at night.
- Determine a bedtime, and stick to it. Getting your body into a routine of going to bed at the same time every night will help signal that it’s time to go to sleep.
- Don’t use your phone before bed! Instead, try reading or meditating to calm your mind.
5. Stop burning the midnight oil
You’ve heard it a million times before – “don’t cram for your exam!”. You might not like it, but it’s the truth! Cramming for an exam the night before usually means more memorizing than actually learning the topics. This isn’t helpful in the long run when you’re on the job, and is certain to cause more stress in the short term – the opposite of nursing school stress relief!
There are better ways than waiting until the last minute to review your exam topics.
- Take it a little at a time – it’s a marathon not a sprint! Start studying well before the exam date. Study in shorter periods (20 – 30 minutes) to ensure you’re really concentrating.
- Review a little bit every day after class to help you recall the information later on and commit it to memory.
- Get the proper amount of sleep leading up to the exam. Ensure you are well rested and refreshed to secure that A!
Bonus tip for nursing school stress relief!
Another way to manage your stress is to incorporate daily exercise. Mixing in some movement to your schedule is a great way to help alleviate some stress and burn off some steam. Exercise has also been proven to boost your mood and give you energy! Adding these into your life is a great way to get some nursing school stress relief.
- Go for a walk or a run
- Jump rope
- Try water aerobics
- Ride your bike to class
- Take a dance break between study sessions
- Sign up for exercise classes
- Lift weights
- Practice yoga
Remember the end goal
Visualize success, and remind yourself that you are working towards your dream of helping others. Even though you’re bound to feel exhausted, anxious, and even brain-dead at times, good things come to those who work hard. Remember that everything you’re doing now will help you become the best possible nurse. When things seem overwhelming, come back to these 5 tips for nursing school stress relief.
Did you try these out? Let us know in the comments!