Nurses begin forming good habits while in nursing school. Nursing school can be challenging. It takes persistence. Focus. Balance. The latter being the trickiest. Not providing balance in your life can lead to stress, exhaustion, burnout and an unsuccessful bout in nursing school. Burnout nursing students are highly susceptible to becoming burnout nurses.
Self-care habits are essential for nurses and can help combat the stressors of the field. If you’ve yet to figure out how to manage stress through self care, you will inevitably feel overwhelmed when assuming your professional role.
Here are four habits that will make your transition from nursing student to nurse smoother and allow you more time to hone your skill.
Watch what you eat
Eating on-the-go is convenient. Grabbing a bag of chips or candy from a vending machine is easy. Foods high in fat can make us feel sluggish and decrease our body’s natural ability to fight stress. Try eating healthy meals by following a nutritious food plan. Meal prepping is an easy way to achieve this.
- Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet
- Eat breakfast daily
- Ask your physician about multivitamins
- Drink 6-8 glasses of water
- Pack healthy snacks for long days of lab, study, or clinical time
- Avoid fried foods, refined sugar, alcohol, and excessive caffeine
Stress can weaken the immune system. Try increasing your intake of citrus fruits, which are high in vitamin c–a stress-reducing antioxidant.
Journaling is an excellent way to express your thoughts and feelings and to relieve stress. Take a journal with you daily. Anytime you feel stressed, write down what triggered it. It’s a great way to track stressors and figure out ways to prevent or relieve them. Your journal shouldn’t be all about stress, however. Every day write a gratitude list. This list will contain the things you’re thankful for. It’s a great way to shift your focus onto the positive things happening in your life.
Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga are great ways to build self-awareness. Find a quiet space and practice deep breathing. Sitting with your back straight, breathe in through your nose and out your mouth–slowly and deeply from the abdomen. Turn off your phone, laptop, and tv to avoid distractions. Once you’ve mastered deep breathing in your quiet place, you can practice it on-demand. Anytime, you feel overwhelmed or stressed practice your deep breathing exercises. It’s an excellent way to:
- Control your breathing
- Slow down your heart rate
- Become self-aware
- Reevaluate your surroundings
Essential oils are another great way to induce relaxation. Effectiveness can be trial and error, but once you find your oil or combination of oils, incorporating them into your routine can be highly beneficial.
We all know your long-term goal is to graduate, pass NCLEX and land your dream nursing job. First, you have to make it through your nursing program successfully. Focus on one class, one simulation lab, or one clinical at a time. Set short-term and long-term S.M.A.R.T goals.
Write out your goals in your journal or place them in an area that you see daily. Reward yourself when you accomplish a goal.
Self-care is beyond important. Incorporating a few good habits will make your nursing school journey easier. Don’t forget to use your new habits when you become that fantastic nurse you’ve dreamed of to continue beating burnout.
About the Author
Portia Wofford is a staff development and quality improvement nurse, content strategist, healthcare writer, entrepreneur, and nano-influencer. Chosen as a brand ambassador or collaborative partner for various organizations, Wofford strives to empower nurses by offering nurses resources for development–while helping healthcare organizations and entrepreneurs create engaging content. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for her latest.