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6 New Year’s Resolutions Every Healthcare Student Should Make

New Year's resolutions for healthcare students

As the joy of the holiday season winds down, you’re left with a full stomach, tons of extra wrapping paper, one last thing: a New Year’s resolution! Nearly half of the U.S. population makes a New Year’s resolution every year, but only a very small percentage of people actually achieve their goal. If you’re a healthcare student — a nurse, medical assistant, or dental lab technician — instead of reaching for the moon as the ball drops, try picking some New Year’s resolutions that are more viable. The right resolutions can improve your mental and physical health, and maybe even your future career, and these six can start your 2016 off right.

1. Take better care of yourself

Ah, one of the oldest resolutions in the book! Eating well is an oldie but a goodie. Healthcare students from all fields — you know who you are! — tend to go, go, go a little more than most. At clinical or your externship, you’re often on your feet, assisting patients or moving equipment, and then hurrying back to class or to study for the next big exam. Add family and personal responsibilities to the mix, and you don’t have much time left for you. That’s why eating well, exercising, and getting quality sleep should take a larger precedent in the New Year. Make New Year’s resolutions that push your health in the right direction to create a better you. Devoting a little more focus and time to your essential needs can result in less stress, more productivity, better outcomes in school, and a more balanced life.

2. Get in tune with your future

As you go deeper into your studies, you may lose sight of why you wanted to go to school in the first place. The New Year means a clean slate in many ways, but it’s also a time to realign yourself with your big-picture goals. Resolve to talk regularly with the the people who inspired you to go to school. Or revisit other reasons you wanted to enter healthcare. Write them down, and stash them away in a safe place. Better yet, carry them with you on the go. This way, when the going gets tough in 2016, you’ll always be reminded of why you’re in school, close at hand.

Related resources: Practical Advice for Choosing Your Nursing Specialty

3. Open up your ears and listen

As healthcare students, we want to share what we’ve learned with the world. We go through grueling hours of study and clinical and exams, so when the time comes to show off a little, it’s easy and fun to spout our new knowledge at parties, to our instructors, or to anyone who will listen. But often, by keeping our mouth shut and our ears open, we actually learn more.

This doesn’t only apply to the classroom or on a unit. Become an active participant in your friendships through active listening. Not only will you build stronger relationships, you’ll also build necessary skills to become a better caregiver in the future.

4. Laugh a little more each day

Humor has its place in the day-to-day lives of healthcare practitioners for a reason. Even though we’re doing what we love, we see some things most people will never witness at any point in their lives. Our jobs take a physical and emotional toll on us, and without finding something to laugh about daily, it’s easy to succumb to all the pressure.

These New Year’s resolutions can start small: Keep positive company. Read something light-hearted on your way to class. Listen to your favorite comedy podcast on the car ride home. End a long clinical rotation with an episode of the funniest TV show on Hulu. By adding a few extra chuckles to your routine, you can reap the benefits of lower blood pressure, less stress, and increased blood flow. And, let’s face it, laughing makes us feel better.

Related resource: How to Cope with Loss As a Nurse

5. Revisit your New Year’s resolutions from 2015

The infamous three R’s (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle) don’t only have to apply to plastic, cans, and paper. If you’re having trouble making any “new” New Year’s resolutions, revisit the goals you made last year. Did you want to read more books? Make more time for friends and family in between study sessions? Take a cooking class or two? Most importantly, though, did you keep any of your resolutions?

Most of us struggle with achieving our New Year’s goals for many reasons — our lack of willpower rears its ugly head, we bite off too much, or we choose the wrong goal entirely. If you didn’t achieve all your goals last year, it’s OK. Re-up them this year. But remember: be smart about which resolutions you choose, know your limits, and keep science on your side.

6. Stay positive

There will be days when all you want to do is stay in bed and watch your favorite movie instead of facing the challenging day ahead. It’s important that, even in the direst of moments, you try and stay positive. We know. Hearing “keep your chin up” is the last thing you want to hear when you’re having a bad day, but the alternative can have a negative impact on your health, your performance, and your surroundings.

If you find yourself in a tailspin of pessimism more often than you’d like, make this year the year to start retraining your brain to overcome the negativity. Resolve to make a mental gratitude list every night before bed, or keep a rubber band on your wrist to snap when you find yourself complaining. When you graduate and become a nurse, medical assistant, or dental lab technician, you’ll continue to face many challenges. If you make a resolution to create a habit of positivity, those hard times will be a little easier.

Did we miss any great New Year’s resolutions for students in healthcare? What are your resolutions for the New Year? Tell us on our Facebook page!

6 New Year’s Resolutions Every Healthcare Student Should Make