It’s no secret that nursing is a very demanding career and for many nurses, and this can begin from the moment that they start nursing school. It takes a lot of effort and dedication to become a successful registered nurse and student nurses need to make sure that they are putting in as much as possible to their program in order to ensure that they are suitably prepared for the career path and workload ahead of them.
The growing popularity of part-time, distance learning, hybrid, and online-only nursing degree programs means that more aspiring nurses than ever before are studying alongside working full-time, raising families and juggling other commitments. Many advanced nursing programs are now available to study online, which has made it easier for current registered nurses to advance their careers and take their work to the next level without the need to give up full-time clinical work.
However, studying for a nursing degree at any level can be a lot of work – and when you add everything else into the mix, it can be easy to find yourself getting overwhelmed, run-down and burnt out with the sheer amount that you have to keep on top of. If you can relate, we’ve got some self-care tips to help you better manage your workload, feel better within yourself and keep yourself working at the top of your game.
#1. Rearrange Your Schedule:
Even if you’re studying for a completely online-based program like these online DNP programs, there’s no harm in rearranging your schedule a little bit if you need to. Advanced nursing programs take up a lot of time and effort, so don’t expect it to fit seamlessly into your routine. You might find that you work better in the mornings; if this is the case then you could consider requesting later shifts to give you more time to study in the morning before work and get it done so that you can continue the rest of your day without worrying about it.
Switching to part-time hours isn’t always necessary when studying online because you can be flexible with when you study, but if you’ve found that studying around shifts or on your days off is getting too much for you, it might be worth considering working fewer hours if you can.
#2. Ask for Help:
While nobody can go to work or study for your degree on your behalf, don’t be afraid to take advantage of the people who’ve offered to do anything else for you, so that you have more free time to dedicate to your career. If your mom has said she’ll happily come and help you with your housework so that you can get on with a couple of hours revisions, take her up on the offer. If you have a trusted friend who’s happy to watch your kids for the day, say yes and take the opportunity to get some work done distraction-free. As a nurse, you’re probably used to being the helper, but remember that there’s nothing wrong with asking for – and accepting – help when you need it.
#3. Keep Yourself Physically Healthy:
When you’re physically healthy you’ll be able to perform better, both as a nurse and as a student. If you are neglecting your health by eating the wrong foods, not getting enough exercise, or sleeping poorly, then this can quickly seep into these aspects of your life and leave you struggling to focus, feeling tired or sad all the time, and cause you to lose motivation quickly. Some of the best ways to look after your health when you’ve got a busy schedule include:
- Batch cooking healthy meals when you have some spare time so that you have ready-to-eat nutritious foods conveniently available throughout the week
- Making some time to exercise several times a week – walking or cycling to work counts!
- Getting enough sleep – don’t be tempted to work late into the night and try to keep your studies out of your bedroom
#4. Focus on Your Mental Strength, Too:
As a nurse, it’s just as important that you are mentally strong – if not even more essential. Mental strength and resilience are crucial for dealing with the daily challenges that you face as a nurse, and even more so when you’re juggling studying for an advanced nursing degree at the same time.
Neglecting your mental health can leave you overwhelmed and run-down, so take the time to practice good mental self-care and be gentle with yourself – you’re doing a lot right now. It can be easy to go hard on ourselves, but try to treat yourself with the same patience and encouragement that you would offer a patient. Some things to try include:
- Take time off: there’s nothing wrong with a couple of days where you don’t think about work or studies. In fact, not doing this can quickly lead to burn-out so make sure that you schedule some ‘me time’ every week to focus on relaxing or having fun
- Talk to someone: if things are getting too much for you, or you’re finding it difficult to cope, it can help to talk it over with your partner, a relative, or a trusted friend. Knowing that somebody is there to listen when you need to talk and is in your corner can be extremely helpful
- Be kind to yourself: use positive affirmations and kind self-talk to remind yourself how far you’ve come; you should be proud of yourself
#5. Try Not to Overdo It:
Many nurses are pretty much superhuman with the amount that they can get done in a day, but doing too much can have disastrous effects on your health. Remember that there’s nothing wrong with admitting that you can’t handle a massive workload and taking steps to reduce it. If you’re struggling to get everything done, it’s important that you put your own health and wellbeing first. Switching to part-time study can be an ideal option if juggling full-time work and full-time study is leaving you with no time for anything else, and it’ll be much easier on you in the long run while allowing you to continue pursuing your goals.
As a nurse, you’re committed to caring for everybody else’s health, but don’t forget that the most important person to care for is you.