Nursing is an exciting profession with so many different opportunities for development. If you are a nurse who has decided to improve your career prospects with an advanced degree, you’re probably facing a huge amount of work for the foreseeable future. While studying for an advanced degree at the same time as working full-time has become much easier in recent years thanks to the introduction of online degree programs that you can fit around you and study from home, it’s still a lot to take on for one person, and it’s never been so important to practice self-care as it is right now. Here are some simple things that you can do as a busy nurse and advanced nursing student to look after yourself.
Put Yourself First
Putting yourself first is absolutely essential if you want to ensure that you don’t end up feeling overwhelmed and burned out. As a nurse, it might be your first instinct to help others in their time of need, but don’t be afraid to say no every once in a while, if that is what you need for your own health and wellbeing. Perhaps you have been asked to take an extra shift at work or help a friend out, and you don’t really have the time; it’s important to think about what you need for yourself in these situations and what’s best for you.
Get Enough Sleep
Working full-time as a nurse and studying for an advanced degree can often feel like you simply don’t have enough hours in the day. But don’t let yourself fall into the trap of losing sleep while you study into the early hours of the morning and try to get everything done. If you can, it’s always a much better idea to go to bed early instead and get your work done early in the morning when you’re feeling fresh. Otherwise, the amount of sleep that you are going to lose on a nightly basis will quickly add up and leave you feeling exhausted.
Taking a break might seem counterproductive when you’ve got so much to get through, but in reality, it can be the best thing for you. Take short breaks throughout the day when you are studying and always try to take your break at work rather than working through it unless, of course, you’re in an emergency situation with a patient that you can’t leave. Along with taking short breaks from your study, it’s also a good idea to take one day a week where you either study or work – keep this time aside just for you so that you can do something that you enjoy.
Eat and Drink Well
The idea of cooking yourself a healthy dinner might not be at the forefront of your mind when you’ve got so much work to get through; why use that time when you could finish your assignment instead? But, giving your body the right fuel is one of the best ways to practice self-care and make sure that you are setting yourself up for success. Simple changes like keeping a bottle of water next to your desk when you’re studying to ensure that you stay hydrated can make a big difference, and there are plenty of quick and easy healthy meals that you can cook for yourself in minutes.
Have a Schedule
Sticking to a tight schedule can make everything easier to manage when you are busy working full-time as a nurse alongside studying for an advanced nursing degree such as this DNP executive leadership program from Baylor University. If you’re not sure what you’re meant to be doing at any one time, this can easily become a source of additional stress that you don’t need. Taking the time to sit down and draw up a schedule and routine to get yourself into that takes your work shifts, and your other commitments into account can help to ease any anxiety that you have and put you firmly back into control.
Reach Out for Help
As a nurse, you are used to being there to help others in their times of need – but who’s helping you? Chances are you already have a support network of people around you who are willing to offer you help and support when you need it, so reach out to them if you feel that you could do with somebody to lean on for a while. Whether you need practical help with things that you are struggling to get done in the midst of all the work or simply want some emotional support in the form of a conversation, make sure that you have a strong support network around you.
If you’ve been working full-time as a nurse alongside studying for a while now, you might be feeling stressed out and highly strung. Taking some time to relax can do you a world of good and there are plenty of different relaxation techniques that you can try in order to achieve this. Try a guided meditation with an app like Headspace, or do some deep breathing techniques to help you regain control over your feelings and emotions again. Be sure to set aside some time to do things that help you relax like reading a good book or taking a nice bubble bath.
If you’re feeling like you’re letting go of yourself a little with all the work that you have to do, take some time to pamper yourself. Go for a massage, get your hair cut, or have a facial and see how much better you feel afterward. On a day-to-day basis, small self-care habits like getting into a good skincare routine can make all the difference when it comes to how you feel.
Working full-time and studying can be tiring for anybody, but especially for nurses who already have a particularly demanding job. Keep these self-care tips in mind and remember that putting yourself first should always be the priority no matter how much work you have to do; you are number one.