Staying healthy in nursing school

Healthy in Nursing SchoolNursing school can very easily take over every aspect of your life, just like it did mine. The whole reason I started this website was to keep other students from falling into that trap by providing resources to make nursing school more manageable. In the five years it took me to take all my prerequisites and get through my program, I watched my health slowly deteriorate until I ended up diagnosed with a chronic illness that could have either killed or seriously debilitated me at any time (if you’re into that sort of thing, you can read about it here).

Now, I know and you know that we all understand what it means to “stay healthy,” but the challenge with nursing school is finding the time and energy to keep ourselves well when we are focusing so much time and energy on school. So rather than give you a bunch of advice like “get up earlier so you can workout” or “eat 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies a day” I’m going to give you five easy ways you can incorporate wellness into your everyday life AND still stay on top of all your school-related tasks. Ready? Here we go!

Wellness Tip #1: Make water your drink of choice

I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, “Well, duh…of course.” But think about it. How often do you reach for an energy drink, soda or coffee when you are feeling tired? I know how often this happens because I do it ALL THE TIME, especially at work when I am feeling depleted. But lately I’ve been embarking on a little experiment…I’ve started drinking LESS coffee and MORE water and I have noticed my energy levels soar! I have made this change by following two simple rules:

  1. Drink 1 liter of water in the morning BEFORE having anything else to drink (and yes, this includes coffee).
  2. No coffee after 12pm…water only (until I get home and then there might be a glass of wine in there somewhere…I’m not gonna lie!)

Wellness Tip #2: Study while you exercise

If you are getting little to no exercise because you feel like you always need to be studying, then you need to find a way to exercise WHILE you study. How? Glad you asked!

  • Listen to my podcast (or ANY nursing-school related podcast)
  • Create audio flashcards (or listen to my PodQuizzes!)
  • Listen to recorded lectures
  • Record yourself reading your lecture notes and listen to it while you run or walk
  • Go for a walk with a friend and discuss key concepts…teach each other something
  • Lift weights while reciting the muscles, attachments and actions (if you’re in A&P)
  • While you’re driving, turn off the radio and instead talk your way through an important concept…pretend you are teaching it to your best friend (you!). You’ll solidify the things you DO know and immediately know what you need to brush up on.

Wellness Tip #3: Start the day with greens

Let’s face it,  you won’t often have a chance to eat a big ol’ salad every day…some days you’ll be lucky to scarf down a granola bar and a mozzarella cheese stick. By starting your day with a big ol’ handful of greens and fruits, you’ll easily get at least half or more of your daily dose of fruits/veggies in on one swoop. Add to that some greens powder and you’re looking at some serious nutrition folks. I like to start the day with a big ol’ green smoothie AND I add greens powder to that first liter of water I drink upon waking.

Nurse Mo’s Green Smoothie 
1-2 bananas OR 1-2 cups mango (both add a creamy texture)
Two big handfuls of greens (spinach, kale, collard greens…whatever)
2 cups other fruit…whatever you like (pineapple, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, etc…)
Scoop of protein powder (optional)
Blend it all together in your blender. Delish!

Not sure what greens powder is? It’s one of those “health food things” that you can find at Whole Foods, Sprouts…probably any health-food shop. I use this one and LOVE It.

Wellness Tip #4: Get 6-8 hours of sleep a night

In a perfect world,  you’d always get 8 hours of sleep each night, but nursing school is not a perfect world. With your study schedule AND early morning clinicals, there are probably going to be a couple of nights each week where you get about 6 hours. Don’t beat yourself up over this. Get 8 hours the rest of the week and you’ll be WAY ahead of most of your classmates who A) waste time;  B) don’t have good study habits or methods; and C) are unorganized as all get out.

How do you get adequate sleep each night? Basically by using the tips plastered ALL over this website as well as:

  • Plan your time well (read this post for some fabulous tips)
  • Don’t waste your time with large study groups (trust me on this one)
  • Get awesome notes/study guides to streamline your studying
  • Conquer your nursing school paperwork
  • Use my book for loads of study tips and ways to stay organized
  • Make sleep a priority and it will guide you through every aspect of your day…you’ll stop wasting time when you realize 1 hour spent gossiping with your classmates = 1 less hour of sleep.
  • Figure out a study method that works for you so you aren’t spinning your wheels
  • Looking for info about a specific topic? Use the search bar located off to the right 🙂

Wellness Tip #5: Schedule some downtime.

I cannot express this enough…you MUST take some time regularly that is JUST FOR YOU. If you wait for moments to appear out of nowhere,  you’ll likely be waiting all semester and then find you’re cramming all your “me time” into your summer and winter breaks. Instead, I encourage you to schedule some downtime into your planner….whether it’s daily or weekly doesn’t matter. Whatever you feel YOU need to be a balanced, joyful person. When I was in school, this was typically on Sunday evenings. I’d block off a couple of hours in the schedule and take a long soak in the tub with a juicy book, deep condition my hair and generally pamper myself. Simply delightful! Of course, I’d schedule time to see friends here and there as well, but that weekly ritual in the tub was a life saver for me. What will yours be?

How do YOU plan to stay well in nursing school? Got an awesome tip to share? Let us know in the comments below!

Realistic tips for staying healthy in nursing school

3 thoughts on “Staying healthy in nursing school

  1. Diana

    Hi, Mo. Your advice is very valuable and I’m trying to follow it. With regards to your morning shake, however, I think it’s a little high in sugar. Hyperglycemia causes inflammation, and over the long run it causes dementia. Glucose also feeds bad bacteria in our guts and cancer cells love it. One piece of fruit in the shake is probably enough, and if you need to fill it out you can add carrot juice, an avocado, seeds like flax and chia, nuts, and a fermented food like yogurt or kefir to feed your biome. I recommend that everyone cut sugar and wheat out of his or her diet and increase intake of omega 3 fats for the brain. Add 1-3 tsp. of coconut oil to the morning shake as well.

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