The nursing student's guide to self-care
When you’re working on earning a master’s degree in nursing, it can be easy to become preoccupied by all of the tasks on your plate. Between tests, assignments and studying – not to mention your responsibilities in the workplace if you’re juggling a job – finding time to care for yourself can be a struggle.
However, keeping yourself mentally, emotionally and physically healthy doesn’t need to be time-consuming. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of extra intentionality. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself with this simple guide to self-care.
Actively listen to yourself
As a nursing student, you probably spend a lot of your day listening to instructors, patients and others who demand your attention. But when was the last time you listened to yourself? An important component of self-care is actively listening to the signals that your own mind and body are sending you. Sometimes you can be your own biggest critic, so be aware of when your inner voice is tearing you down. If your self-talk is negative, be intentional about turning that dialogue around. A 2010 study by the University of Toronto suggested that utilizing that inner voice can improve self-control and prevent you from making impulsive decisions, so you’ll likely be less stressed and more productive when you treat yourself kindly.
Organize your space
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, look at the room you’re sitting in. Are you surrounded by piles of laundry and dishes waiting to be washed? While you might just want to lounge on the couch when you’re stressed, organizing your space can help to declutter your home and your mind. That doesn’t mean that you need to deep clean your bathroom when you’re tired and busy from a day of coursework for your master of science in nursing degree. Try to just tidy up the room that you’re working in and see if it makes a difference in your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Prioritize daily tasks
Your mental to-do list likely has dozens of items on it every day. Unless you’re the world’s most efficient person, that probably means that sometimes you have to make decisions about what’s going to get done and what’s going to have to wait. When you make those decisions, don’t be afraid to prioritize some of the activities that are going to rejuvenate you. If running keeps you sane, make it a priority. On the other hand, if you’re exhausted and working out is going to come at the cost of sacrificing a well-needed nap between classes and your shift, don’t be afraid to let it go for the day. Your time may be limited, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take a few minutes to care for yourself.
Get some sleep
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. There’s a reason that problems often seem so much simpler in the morning than they did when you’re up late panicking.
“I put both adequate sleep and exercise as high priorities no matter what is going on in my life or how busy I am,” Sherry Pagoto, Ph.D., a behavioral scientist and professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, told Psychology Today. “I remind myself that by compromising these, I compromise my mental and physical wellness, as well as my effectiveness in every area of my life. I also set aside some time and money for regular massage, which has a broad range of mental and physical health benefits—oh and it feels awesome!”
While it may seem like you don’t have time to sleep, much less exercise as well, en route to your master of science in nursing degree. But taking care of yourself mentally will benefit your emotional and physical well-being.