Nursing school brings with it a whole new set of challenges the average nursing student has to adjust to: care plans, foleys, sputum, manikins, auscultations, patients, sparkling white sneakers and skill competencies. This level of intense stress is the privilege of every nursing student. The long-term satisfaction you’ll receive throughout your career as a nurse will far outweigh the short-term struggles. But in the meantime, how can you deal with these responsibilities and still maintain your own mental and physical health?
Because Utica’s accelerated nursing program is still new, those of you who are current students are in an excellent position to build good self-care habits that will carry you to graduation. Take to heart these five tips for taking care of yourself as a nursing student:
1. Watch what you eat. Between your online classes, sim lab sessions, and clinical experiences, there isn’t always time for a healthy sit-down meal, but you can still make good choices about what goes into your body. Drink water. Stuff your backpack with grapes and carrots instead of Doritos. Bring a grilled chicken salad and skip the Taco Bell. Your body will thank you for it.
2. Keep moving. It may be hard to justify going to the gym with all the intense studying you have to do, but unfortunately, trips to the kitchen for more caffeine and cheese doodles do not count as exercise. Start small and keep it simple. Do squats when you’re brushing your teeth. Park in the farthest space from the door. Take a walk in nearby beautiful Onondaga Lake Parkway.
3. Catch some zzzzz’s. As tempting as it may be to burn the midnight oil night after night, at some point the lack of sleep will catch up with you, and it won’t be pretty. You owe it to yourself and the patients in your care to put your best foot forward every day. Plus, being well-rested helps you to think clearly and maintain a positive attitude during times of stress; both of these are critically important to finishing nursing school.
4. Find quiet time. Silence the voices in your head – literally. Whether it’s getting up ten minutes early to meditate, turning off the radio on the drive to clinicals or shutting off the TV to write in a journal, steal some alone time for yourself to regroup and maintain perspective.
5. Make friends within your cohort. The schedule of a nursing student isn’t for the faint of heart. As you tackle everything on your (very long) to-do list, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Reach out to the members of your cohort for reassurance and advice on ways to find balance in your life. You are all in this together.
If you have other tips for how to take care of yourself in nursing school, share them in the comments below!