Between assignments, exams, labs, clinicals, and trying to balance a social life, there’s no doubt that nursing school causes students an immense amount of stress. Learning how to manage and reduce stress in nursing school is essential. Studies show that nursing students experience a higher level of stress compared to students studying other health sciences. Whether you’re an aspiring nurse or an RN going back to school, nursing students have a lot of weight on their shoulders. Although nursing school comes with its challenges, it’s arguably one of the most rewarding careers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s projected that the employment of registered nurses is to grow 9 % between 2020 and 2030. It’s undeniable that nursing school takes a toll physically, mentally, and emotionally, but don’t let that scare you from fulfilling your dreams. Avoiding stress entirely isn’t realistic, but there are techniques that can help you reduce and manage it.
Develop a Routine
Each day can seem like a lot when you’re in school due to the amount of homework, studying, and clinicals you have. Nursing school can make you feel like you have a million things you need to do. Creating a daily schedule can help minimize stress and improve your time management skills. There are numerous apps available that help students stay organized and improve time management.
By prioritizing your tasks and having a functional routine, you can feel assured that you’ll be able to cross off everything on your to-do list. To help rank your tasks, try answering these questions at the start of your day:
- What should I accomplish first and why?
- Which task is most important and why?
Focus on Self-Care
Nursing students can find themselves so wrapped up in taking care of the needs of patients that they tend to forget to take care of themselves. To reduce and manage stress, it’s important to set aside time during the week to do things you enjoy, like connect with friends and family, read a good book, or watch your favorite show. Self-care doesn’t have to mean you’re slacking off in school. Taking care of yourself is a large part of reducing stress. Practice deep breathing to recenter yourself or go outside and exercise. If you feel like your time is crunched, take your lectures on the go and listen while you’re out on a walk.
One study of undergraduate nursing students discovered that students who practiced journaling had decreased anxiety in the clinical setting. Journaling before bed can help you identify what’s causing you stress and prevent it from escalating in the future.
Reduce Your Debt
Most undergraduate and graduate students rely on federal loans to help pay for their education. To avoid a large amount of student debt post-college, you can start budgeting during school and pay bills while still enrolled. Having a set plan can help alleviate stress when it comes to your spending.
Evaluate your recurring fixed monthly expenses like rent or mortgage, car payments, and insurance, along with variable monthly expenses like gas, food, and supplies. It’s important to differentiate between essential and nonessential spending. Typically, most fixed expenses are essential. Shop around for a lower rate on car insurance payments. If you’re a homeowner, consider the cost to refinance your mortgage. Lowering your monthly payments can allow you to save up money to use towards your student loans. Practicing meal preparation at home to avoid unnecessary fast food spending, using student discounts, and looking around for cheaper school supplies can all help lower your monthly spending.
Find a Study Group
Joining a study group can help you understand not only the course material but also the stress of nursing school. In addition to boosting your mental health through socialization, you’re also likely to learn more in a group. Together, your group can bounce studying tips off of each other, prepare for exams, debrief after a busy day, and celebrate milestones you’ve reached. Being in nursing school doesn’t mean you have to get through it alone. A study group has the potential to solve two stress-causing issues by providing both social and academic support.
Remember the End Goal
Nursing school will have its fair share of challenges, pushing you beyond your comfort level and requiring you to think critically. It’s important to stay focused on your end goal and remember that school is temporary and that you’ll make it through!