Life after the pandemic became challenging for everyone, but it posed the most significant risk to the students and professionals of the healthcare community. The virus’s propagation increased the workload for students in clinical and academic settings. Their courses and core programs are already very extensive. Still, during this time, they had to take up additional courses and exams to certify their understanding of COVID-19. Moreover, they had to expand their skill set with personal protective equipment routines and sanitizing practices after arriving at clinical sites earlier to undertake additional screening. Regardless of your nursing program, whether it’s an AND, BSN, or MSN, the school has become very stressful for students and for their mental health.

Ways to Keep Your Mental Health in Check as a Nursing Student

During such taxing times, it becomes challenging to look after your mental health. But it is essential to address it before it starts impacting your physical health and affect your academic or work performance. Suppose you find yourself worrying uncontrollably, having trouble concentrating, experiencing stomach problems, and having difficulty eating and sleeping. In that case, you might be going through mental illness. It makes you restless and triggers your anger issues which sometimes results in increased heart rate and panic attacks. Before things get to this, you need to understand the importance of taking care of yourself and keep your mental health in check as a nursing student. Here are some ways to do so:

Practice Self-Care

Some people underestimate the importance of self-care, despite it being an essential antidote for many stressful situations in life. Practicing self-care enhances self-growth and increases confidence. The first step towards mindfulness is addressing the significant stressors around you. This practice reduces the effect of external factors and focuses on soothing the person through their mind. When you acknowledge those worrisome feelings and take a moment to reflect upon them, it enables you to move on.

Focus on Time Management

Time management is a critical skill in the medical field because, as a practicing nurse, you will have to make prompt decisions and do timely checkups for several patients. Developing this skill at an early stage of your educational career will also prove conducive to improving your mental health. Many nursing students feel pressured to balance medical studies with social life and work because they lack a routine. Nursing students often find themselves stuck between their work and education, having no time to practice self-care. However, virtual education can give them flexible hours to study and manage their daily routines. For instance, many RNs go for online masters nursing programs to expand their academic knowledge and improve their practical skills. It allows them to create the perfect balance between work and life, making them more mindful.

A proper day plan also helps you organize your available hours accordingly and makes it easier to get things done. It helps you plan so that you can navigate through commitments and priorities. Many students undergo anxiety because they cannot structure their time, especially for virtual learning. The flexibility of learning hours often leads to procrastination which later turns into a considerable stressor. So, start making To-Do lists, and map out your schedules – be it daily, weekly, monthly, or bi-semester—Mark your deadlines and study hours to know when to start and when to take a break. You can also include meal planning, shopping lists, and extra-curricular activities in your planner to make it more interesting.

Pay Heed to Your Physical Wellbeing

Indeed, as a nursing and medical student, you must be aware of the concept of holistic care. In simpler terms, it means to take complete care of one, considering their mental and physical wellbeing. To be a completely healthy person, you need to take care of your body to improve your mental health. Start with your dietary plan; make sure to eat nutritious meals at proper times of the day and not miss essential mealtimes like breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Ensure an adequate amount of nutrients like protein, vitamins, and calcium in your food and plan accordingly. Having a full stomach will help you stay energetic and eliminate fatigue or restlessness from your daily performance. Apart from this, the basic is to keep hydrated by taking in plenty of fluids like water and natural juices. They will help you keep your mind active to focus on study-work balance much more manageable. In addition to this, practices like meditation and breathing activities can improve the physical health of student nurses.

Identify Support Networks Around You

Humans must have supportive family and friends who they can trust in times of need. To prevent your mental health from deteriorating, you need to identify supportive people around you who can be there for you. You don’t have to be present all the time, but prioritize some time to meet for a coffee or have a routine call with your close friends. Use that time to relax and talk about things apart from stressful stuff about education and work.

Other than catching up with your family and friends, you can also connect with a classmate or a professor who can help you out in your class. If you feel like your anxiety and stress are getting out of hand, reach out to your school counselor or therapist. They can assist you in navigating your way through stressful situations by assisting you in locating useful ways to help you relax. They may offer you to join support groups, which are also very useful in finding solace from fellow members. 

Take Well-Deserved Breaks

Your academic pressure and workload may make you feel like you have to do anything and everything to exceed average success scores, but that’s not true. Everyone has their own pace of work and their tactics to steer their work-studies-life balance. Our routines help enhance our efficiency and make us feel safe about our deadlines. But taking well-deserved breaks should also be a part of the tedious schedules.

If you work repetitively, you will lose interest, which will result in burnout and slacking. So, you need to take out some me-time, have a walk by yourself or visit an art gallery to rejuvenate your mental health. Taking breaks would also help you retain more information in your brain, which improves your overall learning by resetting your mind. And even if you decide to take a complete break from your nursing school, a gap year, or a semester freeze, it’s okay! Don’t worry about staying because it will help you bring your focus back, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Conclusion

In conclusion, nursing students must keep their mental health in check. If they don’t feel active and mentally present at their studies and work, they will not perform efficiently. Hence, it would be best to take time off when you need it and have some friends or support network to rely on. Other than that, it is vital to take care of your physical wellbeing to improve your mental health.