The key components to staying healthy during your nursing education and going forward are to minimize stress, a proper nutritional daily intake, and an active social life. In addition to other issues that tie into these three include a drive to serve others, an individualized exercise plan, adequate sleep, and enhanced safety at school and clinicals.
Adopt Healthy Nutritional Habits
One subject that students learn a little about in nursing school is nutrition and how to eat well-balanced meals. Only a small amount of time is spent teaching nutrition, such as the primary food group, a necessity for the essential intake of vitamins and minerals, weight control, and more.
A properly balanced diet helps to boost immunity. Boosting immunity helps to ward off illnesses and improves overall wellness. Those who eat poorly may not know how to eat well-balanced and healthy meals every day. Eating high sugar and empty calorie foods every day becomes a bad habit.
Consistently eating a diet lacking in essential food choices shows up on the scales. An inadequate diet goes hand in hand with mood swings, irritability, dull hair, skin, and nails, increased stress, and a lack of overall healthy luster.
How can you focus on your education and make good grades when feeling drained from a poor diet? How can you teach a patient about healthy choices in life when you yourself don’t practice healthy living?
It may take a few extra minutes out of your busy day to set up balanced meals, but you will discover that eating healthy is well worth the effort.
For years, the food pyramid served as a guide for many people wanting to eat correctly. My Plate replaced the food pyramid in 2005. My Plate provides five food groups, proteins, whole grains, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and dairy. Refer to My Plate for in-depth information about eating the correct amounts.
My Plate is an easy and understandable guide to eating well-balanced meals and snacks.
Following healthy eating habits dramatically increases personal wellness and school performance.
Related: Why Do Nursing Students Gain Weight?
Learn How to Handle Nursing Stress Do Not Let It Handle You
Nurses are always under stress. That makes it even more critical for you as a student to learn early on how to deal with stress.
Unfortunately, many people under stress may have no appetite and consistently skip meals. Others under the same pressure may feel they cannot get enough food and grab unhealthy food options such as sugary snacks, soda, candy bars, coffee, prepared sandwiches, fast foods, and quick fix frozen meals.
With many different stress factors in your life during school, such as balancing your family life, job, and the constant pressure of making it to the next semester, it is easy to adopt these poor habits.
Once a student earns their nursing degree, passes state boards, and finally earns their nursing license, it might be possible to take a deep breath because all the school stress is behind them. However, stress is the middle name of every nurse. As a nurse enters the nursing profession, more stress comes with a nurse’s daily job duties.
The difference is how you handle the pressure. New nurses quickly find out how very complicated and involved the nursing profession has become. The new nurse discovers that stress never goes away. You have to learn how to prioritize the essential things in life, such as physical and personal wellness, professional well being, and intellectual health.
If you can balance your life, it will be easier to handle stress factors.
Eating balanced meals, healthy snacks, and taking time out for brief periods of exercise, does a lot to decrease stress.
Eating healthy works well and goes hand in hand with a sensible exercise plan. Try to incorporate exercise into your day wherever you can. Driving to a college campus means parking further away and walking briskly to class. Take the stairs when possible.
When studying at home, get up and march in place while going through learned material in your head.
Working online and sitting long periods is not good either. Take a break and go for a ten-minute walk outside, weather permitting. Exercise is an excellent stress reliever.
If you cannot commit to a daily 30-minute workout, then try 10 minutes. Whatever amount of time fits in your schedule is better than no exercise at all.
Prioritize Your Sleep Schedule
Many nursing students seem not to be able to get adequate restful sleep for various reasons. Other demands seem to interfere with sufficient rest. Most nursing students – especially when an exam is approaching, say that they are fortunate to get four to five hours of sound sleep per night. Many nights it is less than five hours.
Lack of sleep diminishes even further the more you get closer to the finish line in nursing school. Each semester becomes more intense and time-consuming. This might sometimes require you to stay up longer to finish a project or study longer.
This is the time when it is most important to reserve time to sleep and rest. You might think the longer you stay up and cram study material into your head, the more you will know for your test.
But as crucial as it is to know the material in nursing school, it is as essential to be able to perform and make good grades when you have to—every test counts in nursing school. You have to be ready for it and approach your exams and projects with a clear mind to get the most of your hard work and make it count.
Stay Safe and Don’t Rush
This one might seem obvious, but frankly, you feel rushed in nursing school all the time.
Whether you take care of job-related activities, school homework, or keeping the household together, there seem not enough hours in the day to get it all done.
Try to make it a habit to plan your day the night before. When doing that, you know what’s ahead, and that feeling instantly relieves stress. It might not be perfect because it doesn’t make all your tasks go away, but it indeed prepares you better for the day.
Stress and feeling overwhelmed starts in your head and is your perception. You can make it a bit better by at least feeling prepared as best you can.
Nursing students talk about nervous break downs rushing to clinical in heavy traffic and feeling nervous all of the time.
This is under no circumstances a way to live a healthy life- not even in nursing school.
If you find yourself stressed to the point where it impairs your daily life, you need to hit the breaks and come up with a plan to unwind. In this state of mind, you will not be able to make good grades or perform well during your clinical rotation. Take a day off and regroup.
Being stressed in clinicals can be dangerous as well. You don’t have your nursing license yet. However, you need to be focused on your tasks at hand because you deal with real human beings and their health.
Feeling stress will lower your immune system over time. Stay safe and keep up healthy practices such as washing your hands, hydrating, and sleep. Be reasonable and drive safely, even if you feel rushed.
Safety comes first.
Beware of Burnout, While Highly Devoted and Driven to Serve
No one is arguing the point that entering nursing school at any age is not a challenge. You must have a fierce determination and be entirely devoted to earning a higher education in the thriving field of nursing.
You have to do all you can to stay healthy no matter what age when you decide to go to nursing school. Nurses are the most unhealthy humans because their goals of serving others come first, and they forget to take care of their personal health.
Nurses learn to serve, period. If nurses are not helping patients, they find that they continuously serve family and friends.
You might find yourself in that position a lot. Most nurses have the devotion and drive to help all people stamped into their very being. This drive makes no difference if you are in clinical, helping others or at home helping your loved ones. You continue to help and serve others non-stop.
Be aware and maintain a healthy distance mentally and emotionally from your patients and friends in general. Not to say to stay away from friends and family. But just because you are the “nurse” in the family doesn’t mean you are obligated to help everyone and have to be available at all times.
It is stressful to bear one’s problems and those of others. Many nursing students have a habit of not leaving their duties at the clinical site. Many bring situations and incidents home with them. They are not to talk about their patients; however, most tuck these things into their mind, and there it sits for you to dwell on when at home.
It is not to say that it is entirely avoidable, but try to separate nursing clinical from your private life. It’s a healthy habit that you should start early in your career.
Stay Connected With Family and Friends
Family and friends can be therapeutic during times like these. Nursing school will be one of the hardest things you have ever done – academically. It is demanding and draining at times.
Spending quality time with friends and family can help get your mind off things and keep you motivated to stick with it.
Connecting with students in your class might be helpful. They go through the same hardships as you and can very much understand what you feel because they feel the same way.
Research shows that many nurses are overweight, live with increased stress, sleep poorly, have high blood pressure, and are pre-diabetic. These nurses have not discovered how to put themselves first to meet the demands of an exciting and demanding nursing career.
Don’t make the same mistakes. Start these healthy habits early in your nursing journey; it will be well worth it.