I was recently reading a research study about nursing school and stress in nursing school and what struck me as somewhat funny was that there was a space to do research on, do nursing students experience stress in nursing school? While this is a massively understood topic for nursing students, it appears some of the academic level might not really understand the level of stress and overwhelm that nursing students feel. But what this study found was that that number one thing that stresses nursing students out is grades. And that they feel overwhelmed. And they feel like they’re juggling things. That there’s no time for personal life.
And I know as a nursing student your sitting there scratching your head and going, “Well yeah, obviously that’s what we’re feeling.” But there is this disconnect between nursing students and professors on that. Because these are two individuals in two completely different stages in life. The nursing student is fighting and clawing their way up with their academically, financially, socially, everything. Trying to learn this material and it’s a completely new language for them while a professor is generally established in life, 10, 15 years experience as a nurse. They don’t understand what they don’t know because they’ve learned so much and they’re generally established. They have a good job. They have money. Things are going generally normal for them and they’re teaching these students who don’t have the money to pay for school. Who don’t understand or haven’t learned the material that they need to know yet. And who are trying to balance schoolwork, classroom work, preparing for tests and clinical work on top of all of that. And this tremendous fear and anxiety that nursing students feel as they’re trying to prepare to take care of people in hospital, that’s an enormous amount of anxiety.
There’s enormous amount of overwhelm that is felt as a nursing student. And I understand that. And what I’ve done to help me remember that is I wrote down a lot of my experiences. And I’ve shared a lot of my experiences on here so a lot of you probably already know those experiences that I had. But I want to give you guys a list of seven things that you can do to help combat that overwhelm. I actually withdrew from nursing school. I did not do a good job of balancing nursing school and life and it eventually ate me up. But I eventually went back, finished and did really well and obviously now I run NRSNG and all that stuff. So let me share with you a list of seven things that I wish I had implemented better and hopefully you can implement them as you finish up the semester, as you prepare for next semester et cetera. And as you work as a nurse because these things apply equally to being a new nurse or being an experienced nurse.
The first thing I want to share is avoid becoming uni-dimensional. You are more than quote unquote, just a nurse or just a nursing student. You’re a human with varied interests. Now don’t drop everything when you start nursing school. Make sure you take time to still be you. Someone who’s a good example of this is nurse Bass. He runs his YouTube channel for nursing students. And he also focuses a lot of time on fitness and working out in his family. So make sure you don’t allow yourself to think in your mind that you’re just a nursing student. You’re so much more than that. You’re a person. You have varied interests. And I wish I’d done this. I enjoyed playing drums a lot and guitar before I started nursing school and those things got locked away in the garage during nursing school and I let go of that and I focused solely on nursing and I became a tremendously uni-dimensional. So don’t do that.
And I realize that nursing school, that after nursing school is when you begin to learn in exponential leaps. I was stuck on the idea that I needed to know everything prior to graduating nursing school. Now I’ve since realized that learning becomes massive accelerated after nursing school as you begin to work on a floor and become specialized. Now I still encourage you take school seriously and learn all that you can but give yourself a break. You’re not going to know everything.
Tip number three is develop healthy habits. Some of the things that this would include would be like something I call, or that’s called miracle morning fitness and exercise. Now this is obvious but it can’t be overstated. If you’re not taking care of yourself, your mind and body become weak. One thing I’ve implemented with great success is something called the miracle morning. Essentially what you do is you develop an early morning routine that includes some of form of journaling, meditation, fitness and reflection before anyone else wakes up. While it’s still quiet in the morning hours. Now sometimes just a short walk in the morning with your phone off can really help. Please try this, I try to do this when I wake up before my kid if I can do that. I’ll wake up and walk around the park outside our house and it really helps me get centered, get focused and have some quiet time before the day starts.
Another thing I want you to realize and this is very difficult is something that I struggled with is to realize that you are not your grades. Now sadly many nursing students including myself, tied their self worth to their GPA. Or how many questions it takes them to pass the NCLEX. This is sad. You are not defined by your grades. Do not allow them to control your happiness or how you view yourself. Now two books that have really helped me with this, ’cause this is something I struggle with greatly and understand this a little better is an old book from like the 1950s called Psycho-Cybernetics. And another called Radical Acceptance.
Now if I could force you to read one non-nursing book it would be Radical Acceptance. If you have a few bucks you can download the audiobook and listen while you’re driving around town. The book really had me in tears and opened up a new world of accepting myself at a level that I had never done previously. Now I’m confident that had I found this book prior to withdrawing from nursing school that I would have gotten my RN a year earlier instead of taking that year away I would have been able to finish and accept myself and not tie myself so much to nursing school.
Now the next tip of advice that I want to give you is something called deep work. Now deep work is a concept outlined in great detail by Cal Newport in his book by the same title. And it really involves allowing yourself time to dive into deep mental states and accomplish great tasks by learning how to get deep into your work. Now applying this is nursing school you can learn how to organize your life to allow sessions of deep work into your studies. One three hour deep work session is probably worth more than several unfocused days of meaningless study. Now to learn more about that, there’s podcasts you can listen to where Cal Newport’s I think he’s on the Tim Ferris podcast and a bunch of other podcasts. So I’d recommend, it’s Cal Newport and the idea is deep work and it’s strategies and tips for getting yourself into a state of deep focus.
Now the next is find a good friend or start keeping a journal. Now you have to be able to decompress and share your frustrations openly without reservations. Now I’ve been really lucky that my wife has been with me through this journey. She has a medical background and haven’t always been very good at listening to her but having a companion for and a family member that you can be open a 100% and honest with is so key to mental health. A friend that allows you to share your frustrations and filter without judging is essential. If you don’t have this person by just a cheap like dollar composition book from Walmart and start journaling it and just let your feelings out. Let your feelings flow. I also had a really good friend in nursing school Tarang who teaches the Med Master course inside the NRSNG Academy who was really good at allowing me just to vent to him. And he would just take it all very in stride and let me kind of vent to him. But it’s so important that you have someone or something or some way to vent.
And lastly realize that life is a journey. Now this is very obvious but realize life is truly a journey. You don’t have to achieve perfection today. You have a lifetime to work toward it. You don’t have to pass the NCLEX today. You don’t have to get accepted into nursing school this semester. You have a lifetime. You’re in this for the long haul so just relax. Everything doesn’t have to work out perfectly today. You might not get accepted, you might not pass the NCLEX this first time but realize you have time. I wasn’t really old when I graduated but I was 30. And so we’ll get emails from students who are 18, 19, 20 and stressed that they didn’t get into nursing school. Just relax and realize you have time. The oldest person in my nursing school class was in his 60s. He was older than my parents. So realize life is a journey, perfection will never come but realize you have a lifetime to work toward it.
You guys, what we’ve done is we’ve realized that overwhelm balance. These are the things that nursing students are struggling with the most. So with the new NRSNG Academy we’ve worked that in. You don’t have time. You don’t have energy. You don’t have the mental state to sit down and try to figure out what to study. So with the new NRSNG Academy our biggest focus was on organization, making it simple for you to just sit down, dive in and know exactly what to study the second you sit down to study. So the new NRSNG Academy is completely designed around that with something we call the core content mastery method tied into personalized individualized study plans built for you. Now when I say for you I don’t mean you as a body of nursing students, I mean you individually.
The NRSNG Academy is built customized with all the algorithms that we’ve built in. You don’t have to worry about that. We are taking care of all that. But all you have to do is log in, sit down and do what the program tells you to do. And you’re going to master this stuff and it’s going to wipe away all your overwhelm. You guys, we love you. We want you to feel a sense of accomplishment. Want you to feel a sense of peace as you go through this journey of nursing school because it is tremendously hard and I can’t take away everything and make it perfectly simple for you. But what I can do is I can give you the study tool that’s going to take away that overwhelm. Take away that stress of knowing what to study. Take away that stress of trying to understand material. And we’ve done that within the NRSNG Academy.
So we’re launching the new NRSNG Academy on July 1st. As of right now registration is closed, you can go to nrsng.com/academy, sign up to be notified when we launch the new academy. But for right now we are launching on July 1st and I want you to know that our entire focus is helping you overcome that stress and that overwhelm and giving you the tools and the confidence that you need to succeed in nursing school, on the NCLEX and in your life as a nurse.
You guys we love you. Thank you so much for being part of this NRSNG family. Now from myself, Jon Haws RN, founder of NRSNG and from all of our team at NRSNG, we want you to go out and be your best self today. Happy nursing.
Date Published - Jun 11, 2018
Date Modified - Mar 26, 2019