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Self-Care as a Student


Students and self-care do not typically mix. Nursing school is an excellent time to prepare for the real-world nursing job.

By Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RN

Students and self-care do not typically mix. Nursing students have deadlines, clinical placements, and group projects to focus on. With so many obstacles getting in the way, it can become extremely challenging to focus on your own well-being!

However, nursing school is an excellent time to prepare for the real-world nursing job that comes next. Once you graduate school and enter your career, it becomes even more difficult to fit self-care in. This is why it is super important for nursing students to pay attention to their well-being while in school.

Related Resource: Developing a Work-Life Balance at Ameritech

Here are 3 strategies for self-care as a student… that won’t take more time!

1: Incorporate Activity into Your Day

Sure, nursing students who are involved in clinical placements may find themselves on their feet a lot. However, this type of activity is very different than getting an actual exercise routine in.

And we hear you – hitting the gym just may not fit into your already packed schedule!

So why not work out while you study? Say what!?!

If you are reading a textbook, writing a paper, or engaging in some other type of study activity this can be an excellent opportunity for you to exercise while you work. Who says multi-tasking doesn’t work?

One idea that you may want to try is investing in a standing desk. Don’t want to put out the money or space for something this big? Then make your own! A few binders, textbooks, or milk crates will do so that you are not sitting on your rump all day.

Another thing that I do is stretching and moving activities while I read, talk on the phone, or watch TV. Yes, we’re sure you still find the time to catch up on your favorite series. Instead of sitting around for any of these, do some lunges, squats, or hand weights while in these types of activities. You can get your workout in and you don’t have to head out to a crowded gym.

Related Resource: Health Hacks for a Busy Lifestyle

2: Invite Your Classmates to Join In

Group projects can be tricky. Sometimes one person wants to get all of the work done. How does each student contribute? No matter how you feel about group work – we all know that it will be assigned to us as students!

So, how can the group engage in self-care together?

This next suggestion is going to get at your emotional and mental well-being. Research has been done and does show that gratitude is good for us. It not only helps the other person when we say “thank you” or show appreciation. We get a boost of feel good juices too!

Start a group meeting with a gratitude exercise. Go around the group and say one good thing that has happened to you in the past week. Or have each person state what they are thankful for. This takes literally seconds per person and will provide lasting results.

Related Resource: 7 Tips for Single Parents Going to Nursing School

3: Remember Your Passions and Unique Assets

Nursing school can strip us of our identity. We are around groups of students, wanting to fit in, and trying to do our best to stand out from the crowd.

Sometimes we are put into classes that we don’t enjoy or have to complete clinical rotations that may not be our favorites. While these are necessary parts of our student journey- we need to realize that there is more to school than what we are assigned.

One of the very best ways to stay happy, healthy, and whole is by staying true to that unique individual within. Sure, you can receive guidance from advisors or suggestions from mentors- but when all is said and done you need to decide what is best for you.

With every decision that comes your way, be sure to ask yourself: “Is this in alignment with my values? Does it feed my spirit? Am I going to enjoy this, based on my strengths and non-student interests?”

Related Resource: A Guide to Continuing Education in the Medical Field

I often tell other nurses to look to their past experiences for clues into the types of jobs that they will enjoy. If they were a person who played school with their dolls when they were young, then roles that involve teaching will likely be a good fit for them.

You can look to your past and observe your present to create the future of your dreams. When you enjoy what you are doing, the self-care stuff comes easy. And school (and ultimately work) will be that much more fun!

We’d love to hear from you! What would you add to this list? How do you take care of yourself as a student? Share a strategy below and thanks for reading!

About the Author: Keynote speaker and bestselling author, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the host of the Nurse’s Week ‘Art of Nursing’ program, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes-challenging realities of being a caregiver.

Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and a playful pit bull.