Are you currently attending nursing school or considering pursuing a healthcare career? If so, you’re probably aware of the demanding curriculum, long study hours, and clinical rotations that come with the territory. Unfortunately, with so much on your plate, it’s easy to let your health take a backseat.
The recent pandemic has only exacerbated this issue, with many nurses experiencing burnout, putting the hospital staff on a tight ship. According to research by Mississippi Hospital Association, almost one-third of Mississippi’s RNs left their jobs due to deteriorating health caused by overworking between 2021 and 2022. Therefore, taking care of yourself during nursing school is crucial for your well-being and ability to provide patients with quality care.
From making effective lifestyle changes to adopting practical study techniques, here are seven ways to prioritize your health and excel in your nursing career.
1. Enroll in an Online Program
Attending university can be a tough experience. The endless barrage of deadlines, tests, presentations, and projects can leave one feeling utterly drained. However, there’s an alternative that can help you strike a balance between your academic pursuits and other responsibilities: online nursing programs.
These courses can be a lifesaver for students who wish to save time and money on on-campus programs or are currently practicing in a medical facility. Plus, the convenience of not having to commute to a physical classroom can alleviate a great deal of stress, especially in Mississippi’s long, hot, and muggy summers. You can acquire a higher degree by opting for CCNE accredited online RN to BSN programs to upgrade your knowledge and credentials while having some flexibility in setting your schedule.
In short, an online nursing program can allow you to achieve academic and professional goals while helping you still look after your overall well-being.
2. Embrace Healthy Eating Habits
As a nursing student, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by academia’s constant hustle, leaving little time for proper nutrition. While fast food may seem like a quick and convenient option, it’s important to recognize the impact of food choices on your health.
Fortunately, plenty of healthy snack options are available to keep you focused and energized throughout the day. Also, incorporating healthy snacks like nutrient-rich avocado, protein-packed almonds, antioxidant-loaded blueberries, and energy-boosting bananas, into your diet can give your body the nourishment it needs.
Conversely, neglecting a nutritious diet can have detrimental effects, ranging from brittle hair to severe mood swings and exhaustion. Remember, you’re not just a nursing student—you’re a role model for those around you. By consciously prioritizing healthy eating habits, you’ll feel better physically and mentally and be better equipped to advise patients to adopt healthy habits.
3. Stay Hydrated
Water is fundamental to good health, and its benefits are significant for anyone—not just nursing students. It can help improve cognitive function, sustain energy levels, and reduce hunger pangs.
Ensuring you remain hydrated throughout the day is an easy and effective way to avoid feeling sluggish or famished when it’s time to hit the books. In addition, drinking water can help you maintain focus and concentration during long study sessions by slowing digestion and limiting the temptation to snack on unhealthy treats.
One tip to keep in mind: be mindful of your caffeine intake. While caffeine can provide a temporary energy boost, it’s also a diuretic that can contribute to dehydration. So, instead of reaching for another cup of coffee or soda, why not swap it out for a refreshing glass of water?
4. Get Quality Sleep
As a nursing student, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of sleep deprivation. But the consequences of a lack of shut-eye are far-reaching and can include everything from aches and pains to impaired immune function and hallucinations. And if that weren’t enough, skimping on sleep can also negatively impact your academic performance and your ability to make healthy food choices.
Therefore, nursing students must prioritize sleeping seven to eight hours each night and establishing a pre-bedtime routine to ensure quality rest. By taking care of your body and mind, you’ll be equipped to tackle the challenges of nursing school head-on.
5. Be Organized and Create a Schedule
Creating a well-structured schedule is vital for nursing students who strive to maintain focus and promote good health. With designated time slots for food preparation, studying, exercise, and leisure activities, you can maximize your day while staying on track with your goals.
As a nursing student, you must surround yourself with like-minded peers who share your passion for learning. Avoiding distractions and staying engaged in study groups can help you maximize your time and productivity. In addition, reading assigned materials before lectures and reviewing them afterward can enhance your comprehension and retention of essential information.
6. Make Time for Exercise
Engaging in regular exercise is beneficial not just for athletes but also for students and professionals alike. Exercise reduces anxiety and stress levels, enhances relaxation, promotes better sleep, and even aids in weight loss.
Research by the CDC has shown that physically active students tend to have better academic performance, attendance, cognitive ability, and classroom behavior compared to their sedentary peers. As a nursing student, incorporating regular exercise into your routine can boost your focus and increase your chances of achieving academic success. Even dedicating just 10 minutes a day to exercise can make a significant difference in your well-being. So why not set aside time daily to get your heart pumping and your body moving? Your mind and body will thank you for it.
7. Manage Stress
Nursing students are no strangers to stress, which can leave them overwhelmed and frustrated. If left unchecked, stress can lead to anxiety and depression, affecting academic performance. That’s why self-care is essential. Here are some tips to help you unwind:
- Indulge in a soothing soak in a warm bath.
- Lose yourself in an uplifting book.
- Binge-watch your favorite TV show until you drift off to sleep.
- Put pen to paper and journal your thoughts and feelings.
Staying in optimal health is critical, especially for nursing students, who can’t provide the best care if their own health is compromised. The rigorous demands of nursing school can trigger stress, depression, fatigue, and other health issues. Getting into an online program, healthy eating, regular exercise, hydration, and stress management are all effective methods to stay fit while attending nursing school.