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It is no secret that nursing school is extremely stressful. There are deadlines, clinical hours, exams, papers, and seemingly endless amounts of information responsible for knowing. It is very easy to feel overwhelmed or anxious while trying to navigate through the experience. On top of the expected stresses that nursing school brings, we have been switched to virtual learning for a year due to the global pandemic, thus creating more stress, pressure, and responsibility for the students. Having to navigate through the added stresses of the pandemic and nursing school has been a unique experience, and there was no handbook given to understand how to cope and what to expect. I have personally struggled with anxiety and depression since I was in my pre-teen years, and it is always present in my life, sometimes more prevalent than others. Learning ways that work for me to cope with these things has helped me tremendously.
These are some of the things that have helped me cope with my mental health throughout my nursing school time. The top thing that I do to maintain a good balance is taking breaks and being kind to myself. It is easy to fall into the pattern of feeling like you “should” be studying or getting ahead whenever you have free time. I have learned that every single waking moment doesn’t (and shouldn’t) belong to nursing school. Having a good school/life balance is an integral part of not feeling consumed or overwhelmed with nursing school. Second, I have a good support system. I wouldn’t consider myself overly extroverted; however, I always get classmates’ phone numbers and reach out to them when it comes to school. I have since built an incredibly supportive group of fellow students with whom I can vent, ask questions and give/receive support. It is difficult to form your “group” during the pandemic; however, I know this last year would have been much more difficult without them. Third, I have created a space that is specifically dedicated to studying and schoolwork. I don’t study in bed and try to make sure that it is a quiet, peaceful place. This allows me to separate “class” from “home” and ensure that I can give each one the attention it deserves. Lastly, self-care is essential. Self-care may mean different things to different people. For me, it is eating well, taking time off, going outside, taking bubble baths, and watching my favorite shows.
There are many different ways to cope with the stresses and pressure of nursing school. It is important to determine which of these ways works to manage the negative effects that we may be feeling. Many resources may help you to cope with these things as well. Make sure to reach out to your friends and family and utilize your campus resources if you notice that you are struggling.
Written by: Kym Wisniewski
Many nursing students thrive on staying busy, constantly filling up their planners with checklists, and maybe downing a coffee on hand. I know I did! Sometimes, we get so caught up with trying to accomplish so many things at once that we don’t realize how much of a toll this “need-to-get-things-done” mindset has on us. In other words, we forget about balance.
Nursing school in itself is already hard. From classes to exams, to projects, to labs, to clinicals, to preceptorships – it’s almost as if we’re wired to function “on-the-go.” Often, many students find themselves in a position where their life becomes centered around nursing school and that they have no time for other things – but this doesn’t have to be the case. This is when self-care comes in. As a profession that seeks to provide care for others, I think it is so important to remind ourselves that we have to take care of ourselves first before taking care of others. That said, here are some of my self-care tips:
- Determine what self-care looks like to you. Self-care is unique to each person. Knowing what makes you feel good, de-stressed, and happy is a great place to start! Make a list and write down all the things that you enjoy. For me, self-care included binging TV shows that I loved (like The Office, New Girl, and Parks and Rec), talking to my loved ones (video chat/phone call), cooking homemade meals, taking long showers, and naps. LOVE naps!
- Understand that it is okay to set aside time for yourself. Because one can be so used to constantly reviewing or studying or always doing something, you must understand that it is okay to make time for yourself. Do not feel guilty about taking time to care for yourself.
- Schedule in your self-care. Yup! Write down your plan for self-care in your planner or calendar. This could be scheduling, getting your nails done or meeting your friend for lunch to catch-up. Scheduling it in means you have decided to make time for it – so follow through with it.
- Say “no” more often. This is easier said than done but learning to say “no” more often makes the difference. This can mean saying “no” to picking up a shift if you work or saying “no” to something you are uncomfortable doing. It keeps you from constantly overloading yourself, and it also helps with your mental health by allowing you to put yourself first.
- Practice positive self-talk. This practice has made the biggest difference in my mental health and my self-care. The things that we tell ourselves will either encourage and motivate us or limit us. Some ways to provide ourselves with positive self-talk is to: be grateful, visualize your success, not fear failure, and surround yourself with positive affirmations.
- Take care of your body. We only have one body, so we should take care of it. Rest, eat, exercise – however, caring for your body works best for you.
These are just a few things that have helped me throughout nursing school! Although it may not include all aspects of self-care, I hope that it still helps someone think a little more about incorporating self-care into their school-life routine. Remember, one of the most important relationships you will ever have is the one you have with yourself. Put yourself at the top of your to-do list, and the rest will fall into place.
Comment down some of your favorite self-care tips!!!
Love, Annika Grace
Written by: Annika Grace
During our nursing school journeys, we have heard many things about success in school and success in our future careers. Throughout my clinical experiences, I had the opportunity to shadow and meet so many incredible nurses who had great tips and tricks along with advice. But one piece of advice I will never forget I received from a nurse I had shadowed for a day, "Go ahead and keep building YOUR tribe; the earlier, the better." Hmm… that is an odd statement, and I thought about it all day. I already have my tribe- all my friends and family? What does she even mean?
Fast forward to my final quarter in nursing school, and one day as I sat filling out applications for graduate positions, cover letters, reading over letters of recommendations. Taking the time to reflect on my journey truly, like a ton of bricks, finally hit me. Just because I already had a "tribe" didn't mean it was done growing.
Remember, as a kid, hear your parents say, "it takes a village." Well, this is how I think of building a tribe. Yes, do not get me wrong, your friends and family will always be your number one support system!! They are the base and foundation of your tribe. But, never forget about those you met along the way that has helped or may one day help you in your journey. Your professors, the nurses you meet or shadow at clinical, the preceptors, your final rotation, your fellow nursing classmates! Think about it, what if one day one of those individuals interviews you for a job? Helps you find or land that dream job? Teaches you a concept or trick that you carry through your next 30+ years of nursing?
With every encounter, remember, you are building YOUR tribe. If there is someone you connect with, see if they would make a good fit! Introduce yourself, make a great first impression, ask questions, be present and engaged, be willing to help!! Those little things will make an everlasting impression on someone- and they will remember you don't you worry!! Some may want to keep in contact and want to get help with their future endeavors! They will want to be a part of your tribe- they want to watch you succeed and do great things!
There will come a time when you may need help with a job or something like getting a letter of recommendation. How amazing of a feeling to be able to send a quick email or have a phone call and have that help at the tip of your fingers? To have the support behind you at all times? When a future employer asks, "What do you know about ___ (put your name here), they have nothing but great things to say!
I don't know about you, but I would be nowhere without my tribe!
Written by: Haley Goff