Maintaining good mental health can be one of the most challenging aspects of undertaking higher-level education as a nursing student. Long hours in the classrooms, balancing family life, and inevitably hectic schedules can take a toll even on the strongest student. With so many competing demands, you might need to work on balancing your life.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways nursing students can manage potentially stressful situations while protecting and nurturing their mental health. Here are a few tips to help you maintain good mental health throughout your nursing school experience.
Get good sleep
When pursuing an accelerated BSN online, you might be pulling all-nighters studying for exams. However, sleep deprivation can lead to various issues, such as increased anxiety, high blood pressure, diabetes, poor eye-hand coordination, and reduced ability to think and act quickly.
While it’s quite difficult to get good sleep every night, try to make quality sleep a top priority. Creating a regular sleep routine, such as going to bed at the same time each night, can help you destress and unwind after a stressful day at school. Avoiding caffeine and screens in the evening can also help your body fall asleep faster and have a more restful sleep.
Eat a balanced diet
Turning to unhealthy comfort foods such as chips, sweets, or a tub of ice cream every time you feel overwhelmed can make you feel good at the moment. However, this can ultimately exacerbate depressive issues and anxiety and isn’t good for your body.
As an alternative, develop meal planning and preparation as part of your healthy routine. Adhering to a healthy diet is essential to managing stress as a nursing student and can help improve your academic performance. Eat a healthy meal before class and again before the work shift.
Create a complementing exercise routine
Despite being in a health-related course, most students usually neglect exercise. Many feel like they are continuously doing exercises throughout their entire shift dashing from one patient to another. While that may be true, taking time in the evenings or on weekends to work out can help you manage stress, avoid burnout, and maintain your strength and endurance.
The cheapest activity is walking or running; this should be easy if your nursing school is on campus. You can also join group classes such as Zumba or Tabata workouts, usually available at college fitness centers or local gyms.
Connect with others
Nursing school can sometimes feel isolating, especially if you feel like you are always busy to get time to have fun. However, socializing with friends and family for a few hours during school breaks can help you combat any anxiety that may arise during your studies.
While your friends outside of your nursing program might not understand what day-to-day is like for you, connecting with them can offer you an opportunity to have conversations that don’t revolve around books. You can also join student organizations that offer support systems for nursing students.
Considering how stressful nursing school can be, practicing self-care is vital for your success. As a nursing student, establishing and practicing good self-care habits helps minimize stressors and boost your mental health. You can create study groups where you meet weekly for sessions and plan dinners/ time together after hectic study days.
While taking breaks during busy study schedules or when overwhelmed can be challenging, it’s among the best ways to re-energize and relax. During this time, you can focus on an interest or hobby. Talking to a professional counselor about your challenges and concerns can help ascertain sound mental health.
Don’t self-medicate and also avoid illegal drug use
Illegal drugs and prescription medication use are common among healthcare students. Heavy drinking and cigarette smoking are directly linked to substance use by students. While you might see them as stress relievers, they’re quite dangerous, particularly when you become addicted. They threaten your professional standards and education. To prevent the risk of falling prey to drug and alcohol addiction, don’t self-medicate for depression and pain. Consider seeking professional assistance for any physical pain or mental health challenges you might be facing.
Consider time structuring
A routine plans your days in a way that enables you to get things done easily without overthinking. When you have a lot of unstructured time, stress and anxiety find a thriving ground. Using your nursing syllabus, outline assignments and due dates on a calendar. Incorporate family and work obligations where necessary and set aside study time. Committing to a routine makes going through your school days easier with minimal worries.
Know when to seek help
Being proactive about your mental health is the way to stay mentally sound. Suppose you feel that your psychological well-being is declining or on the verge of it, seek help from the nursing school physician or other professionals immediately. Identify a family member or friend you can talk to whenever you feel overwhelmed or stressed about something.
Taking care of your mental health is essential to your success as a nursing student and can help you develop excellent habits for staying healthy. With these tips, you can equip yourself with the necessary tools to manage stress and anxiety and maintain mental and physical well-being.