Stress Management Tips for Nursing Students
In this installment of my blog I give you my top 10 tips to manage stress in nursing school. Tips 1, 5, and 10 are my favorites. I hope you enjoy reading!
1. Take Care of Yourself
As a nursing student it is in our nature to put others before ourselves. For many of us, that is why we chose this profession. However, by doing this we are putting ourselves at risk. Remember this: if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others adequately. How do you tell your patients to take care of themselves? Eat, sleep, and work out. We must practice what we preach! Keep a reusable water bottle with you at all times. Keep emergency snacks in your backpack. There will be a time when you need it, trust me!
2. Become Organized
Nursing school is chaos. I am speaking literally, not metaphorically. Our class/work schedules are unlike any other profession. It is hard to get organized, but it is necessary. Use a calendar. You can use the calendar on your phone, but I used a physical calendar. Yeah…like the one you hang on a wall! Schedule everything. Even schedule time to eat if you have to. If you’re just starting nursing school you’re laughing at me. If you’ve been around the block you know that I’m not joking. I guarantee you will have study sessions where you will go hours without realizing you haven’t had any food or water. If you really want to get organized, you can color code your schedule. Green for classes, blue for work, orange for working out, black for relaxation, red for deadlines. Use any system that works for you.
Google Sync helps you sync your contacts, mail, calendar, and more to your smart phone.
They say driving while tired is just as dangerous as driving while under the influence. The same can be said for nursing school. Whether you have an early morning of clinical or just another lecture, get plenty of sleep beforehand. If you can’t stay awake in class you won’t retain anything, and you might as well not be there. No…I am not saying skip class to sleep in! Which takes us to our next point…
UCLA has free audio clips for meditation and sleep. This might seem a little odd to you, but trust me it works! It will help you de-stress and get amazing sleep.
4. Go to Class
Although it seems like you spend your entire life in class, you actually only have a few hours a week. These are the few hours you have to listen to and communicate with the person that is writing your tests! They will often tell you certain areas to focus on, which can cut your studying time down drastically. They have been there and done that, so they will be sure to tell you the most important aspects of the subject for you to know while you are in clinical.
This will make your life 1000x easier. A Chinese Proverb once said “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” The same can be said about studying. I’m not telling you to study before lecture as if you have a major test. I am saying to have a good general knowledge of the topics that will be covered that day. I suggest buying an NCLEX or HESI study book that includes the topics of the class you’re in. You might be asking “Why do I need an NCLEX book if I’m not even close to graduating?” Well, these books are perfect summaries for nursing. They are very concise, and only provide the most important information. Your professors will tell you to read tens, if not hundreds of pages in your textbook for each class. You will often cover 5+ chapters in a week. If you are able to get away with prepping for class by reading these summaries, you will thrive. You will have a basic understanding of the concepts your professors are covering, which will help you immensely. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you prefer reading the textbook then more power to ya! I wouldn’t have been able to do that for a single one of my classes, but the NCLEX books got me through.
Here are some affordable NCLEX books from eBay.
Another tip to help prepare quicker is to check out my article How I Easily Decreased My Reading Time By a Monumental 397% [VIDEO].
To learn how to prepare for clinical check out the Top 10 Expert Tips to Conquer Nursing Clinicals.
6. Know How to Study
Nursing school is unlike any course you had in high school. It is only about memorization, it is about critical thinking. You don’t only need to know what is going on in the body, you need to know why it is problematic, what it means, and how to treat it. The tests are going to be tough. For this I suggest using the PowerPoint presentations and study guides provided by your professor. Use your textbooks if there are areas that confuse you or that seem to be extremely important. This is where you need to get into the smaller details of the information. Read, write, listen, and do. Read PowerPoints, notes, and study guides. Write notes during lecture to mark important pieces of information. Write an outline of important topics while you study. Draw pictures to help you study. Listen to your professors. If they post audio clips of their lectures utilize them, or ask them if you can record the audio for studying. I’m not ashamed to say I have listened to audio recordings while driving, working out, and even sleeping. Most smartphones have a built-in app that lets you record audio. Do worksheets, flashcards, and practice questions. You can find these all over the internet for free with a simple google search. PROTIP: This is another area where the NCLEX books come in handy. Before you buy one, read the table of contents. Make sure it has a section about answering NCLEX style questions. Knowing how to tackle these questions will increase your chances of making the correct choice. Another protip: find the nearest source of caffeinated drinks. You’ll understand after you begin to study for your first test.
7. Make a Study Group
You want to make new friends in nursing school? Well, guess what you all have in common…you’re all going to spend countless hours for the next few years of your life studying the same topics! One way to make friends is to form a study group. Exchange numbers and schedule a time to study. I suggest groups of 3-5. The absolute best way to learn in nursing school is to teach each other. Take turns teaching each other different concepts. When someone is teaching ask them questions. It’s okay if you don’t know all the answers, you can look them up together as a group.
You will have dozens of assignments from numerous classes that are assigned at the same time. Use Tip #2 to get organized, and make sure you prioritize. Read through the instructions of each assignment as soon as they are given. Estimate how long each one will take you. Decide which ones are the most urgent and complete them first. If you have an A+ in one class and a D in another, prioritize the more difficult class. The same needs to be done in your personal life. There will be nights that you want to go out and have some fun, but you have to have self-discipline and make nursing school your top priority.
9. Lean on Each Other
You’re going to complain. Your classmates are going to complain. Nursing school is NOT easy! Encourage your classmates in their time of need, and they will do the same to you. Help others any chance you get. If they are struggling in pediatrics and you rock at it, teach them your ways. Chances are that they will be awesome in another class that you need help in, and they can return the favor. You are not competing with your classmates, you’ve already made it into the program! They are your biggest allies, and your only friends who truly know what you are going through.
10. Take Time for Yourself
Once again, nursing school is chaos. It is going to make you feel like an idiot. Learn to laugh at yourself! You’re going to make mistakes. They are only a problem if you don’t learn from them. Enjoy every second of nursing school. When you are done you will miss it. You’ll miss the long nights of studying. You’ll miss complaining with your friends. You’ll miss your professors. This next statement is going to go against everything I’ve said above. There will be nights where you should drop everything and go out with your friends. Forget the projects, the studying, the preparing. Use these sparingly. This isn’t something you can do weekly, or even monthly. Make them count. Use them when you’re at your breaking point, and you know that you can make up for the lost time. Life is too short to not have any fun. Make sure you work hard and play hard!
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of our FREE cheat sheet!
- Use all available resources. I suggest you start by downloading our free Nursing Necessities Cheat Sheet, which has a ton of well-organized information that can be used everyday in nursing school. All you have to do is join our free weekly newsletter. Signup only takes 15 seconds!
- Use sources like Quizlet, which contains thousands, if not millions, of free flashcards and practice questions.
- Use all of the resources provided by your school. You are paying for it! Use a variety of platforms to study and you will retain more knowledge.
- Check your textbook for codes to online resources. Here you will often find study guides, practice questions, and important information related to your class. These can be especially helpful as your teachers often use the question bank from that textbook to create your tests!
- YouTube is a fantastic resource for nursing school. With a quick search you can find a plethora of videos explaining topics that you need help with.
I hope you take these tips to heart and use them throughout your nursing school career. Remember to make the most of every moment. Rejoice in the good, and learn from the bad. If you can do this, I can guarantee you will love nursing school.
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Have a great day!
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