Studying to become a nurse is a fantastic thing to do. It’s a career that offers enormous levels of fulfillment, and it can be flexible, so it’s an excellent option for moms. It is also something that really gives you a chance to give back and help other people. Now, more than ever, nurses are in high demand, and fortunately, many people are keen to enter the profession via a nursing course.
But, while studying to become a nurse is certainly worthwhile, it isn’t always easy. There are long days studying at home or in school, and there are clinical days out in hospitals and health centers. There’s a lot to learn, and in the early days, the learning curve can be very steep. Those clinical days can also take a massive toll on your emotional wellbeing. If you aren’t used to working in caring settings, suddenly being around ill people and people in need and facing harrowing and upsetting situations can be emotionally draining. Many people also struggle to adjust to the long hours and late nights.
All this can mean that many nursing students find that self-care, healthy eating, and exercise fall by the wayside. It’s all too easy to sacrifice exercise for an extra hour in front of the TV after a tough shift, or to reach for unhealthy snacks and fast food instead of spending time cooking something more nutritious. It’s also tempting to reach for the comfort foods or to treat yourself to something sweet after a particularly emotional day. But, over time, this behavior can start to affect your health and wellbeing.
Why Nursing Students Need to Take Care of Themselves
It can be hard to make healthy habits a priority when you are busy, but as a nursing student, whether you are furthering a career or studying an online nursing degree for non nurses, it’s exceptionally important. Here’s why.
As a medical student, your immune system needs a good boost. You spend time around diseases and viruses. Even with PPE and good hygiene practices, it can be easy to catch something. Boosting your immune system with food and exercise can help you to stay healthy.
Increased Energy Levels
You need all of the energy that you can get, right? By avoiding too much caffeine and instead prioritizing natural, energy-boosting foods like fruit, vegetables, oats, and eggs, you can stay alert all day long and prevent any mid-afternoon slump.
To Set a Good Example
Education is a big part of healthcare. Set a good example for patients, relatives, and the wider community by taking care of yourself and living by the rules you are trying to instill in others.
To Create Good Habits for the Future
Studying to become a nurse is the first step in a long and rewarding career. While studying can be exhausting, your workload won’t reduce when you graduate. Get into healthy habits from the start, and the future will be smoother.
But how do you do it?
Prepare Healthy Snacks
It’s easy to reach for unhealthy treats and junk food when it’s hard to cook something healthy. Prepare healthy snacks to take in your bag and nutritious meals for your freezer that you only need to warm up when you get in. Make healthy eating quick and easy for yourself.
Walk to Work
Walking to work, or college, or even just to the shops is a great way to get more fresh air and exercise, without having to take time out to hit the gym.
Burn Off Stress
When we’re stressed out, we often reach for the chocolate or wine for comfort. But what if you changed this habit? Instead of wrapping stress in comfort, why not burn it off? Channel that negative energy into something positive by going for a run or even dancing around your lounge.
Create a Routine That Suits Different Times
One of the best ways to improve your sleep quality is to go to bed at the same time every night. When you are studying, and especially when working in a clinical setting, this might not always be possible.
However, you can create routines that work no matter what time it is. Get into healthy bedtime routines by doing the same things before bed each day. This could include meditation, a warm, relaxing drink, an hour without your phone or other screens, or a cool-down yoga routine. Find a routine that works for you, and then stick to it as much as possible, even if you are working nights and going to bed at 9am.
Moderation is Key
Some days, you’ll want to reach for the tub of ice cream or order in a takeout. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you’ve had a hard day, you are tired, stressed out, and emotional, it’s okay to treat yourself to something comforting. But, do it in moderation, not every day. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional unhealthy treat, as long as you don’t let it become the norm.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation is different for all of us, but it’s a good idea to find some techniques that you can rely on when you need them. Try taking a hot bath or getting some escapism by reading a book. Some people find yoga or meditation helps them to unwind. Others use deep breathing techniques or alternate nostril breathing to calm themselves down and clear their minds.
Build a Support Network
As a nursing student, you are going to need a strong support network. Reach out to your family and friends for support when you need to, and spend time making friends with people on your course or at your clinical setting who will understand what you are going through.
Schedule Breaks in Study Days
When we’re studying, it’s easy to lose time and find that hours have passed, and you haven’t moved. Schedule breaks throughout the day and even set alarms to remind yourself to rest. Use these breaks to get a healthy snack, stretch out, and go for a short walk. They’ll help you to stay healthy, to relax, and even to retain information more effectively.
Training to become a nurse is tough, but so is working as a nurse. Building healthy habits now will help you to settle into and enjoy your future career, with reduced stress and a more positive outlook.