Nursing school has developed a reputation for being difficult and stressful. This stress, if left uncontrolled, can lead to poor grades and health issues.

Check out these tips for keeping your stress under control during these busy times.

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How Can You Deal With Stress in Nursing School?

Nursing school has a rigorous academic and clinical program that is stressful no matter how you look at it. However, this stress can be minimized significantly by using studying and self-care techniques that are simple to implement.

What works best for you will depend on your personality and the amount of free time you have.

What Do You Need to Get Your Stress Under Control?

Thankfully, you do not need a great deal of money to reduce your stress. Taking time to invest in self-care techniques and pouring yourself into relationships with fellow students can pay off huge dividends.

This brief list will give you everything you need to get started with stress reduction as a nursing student.

For the 99% of Nursing Students Who Hate Reading Textbooks

Check out The Nursing Student Academy. A supplemental learning platform that helps fill in the gaps those nursing textbooks leave out (or make it difficult to find).

1. A Support System

You need a group of people who pour back into you. Your support system could include friends and family who enjoy relaxing with you during your free time.

It can also include professors and fellow students who can give you helpful study hints or work with you to improve your grades.

Related: 4 Signs You Should Quit Nursing School

2. A Routine

Managing your time well is vital for reducing unnecessary stress in nursing school. Invest in a planner that helps you block off time for classes, clinicals, studying, work and self-care.

A daily planner, such as the Panda Planner Pro, will give you plenty of space to schedule each day, write down notes and create goals.

Panda Planner Pro
A scientifically designed planner that'll empower you to take control of your life.

3. Exercise Strategies

Exercising can boost your mood with positive endorphins or help you relax and stretch your muscles following a long study session. Opt for a mix of cardio, strength training, and stretching.

By choosing at-home workouts, you will save time and are more apt to follow through with your exercise plans. Try methods that offer short yet effective workouts, such as Obe Fitness or Yoga Burn.

4. Nourishing Food

Gentle nutrition is vital to powering your body through each day. It can also help you improve your immunity, sleep better at night and better regulate your mood.

Eating healthfully does not have to be expensive. Opt for fruits and vegetables on sale for the week and cost-effective proteins, such as eggs.

If you’re struggling to develop healthy recipes, you can opt for meal kit services such as Blue Apron or Hello Fresh. They take a lot of the guesswork and pain points away when preparing and cooking good nutritious meals. I’ve tried both companies before and have liked it.

5. A Journal

A journal is important for helping you get your anxieties and other feelings out on paper and to deal with them head-on.

Try a bullet journal, such as the popular Moleskine variety, or an option with daily prompts, such as Start Where You Are.

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Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration
An interactive journal designed for helping you nurture your mindfulness and self-motivation.

I’ll be the first to admit journaling is not for everyone.

But if you struggle with chronic stress and nothing else seems to be working, journaling can be a really good coping mechanism. Another good stress-relieving activity is coloring. Also not one of my favorites, but so many people swear by it.

Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration
If you're more into bullet journaling check out this option. Relatively inexpensive.

Steps for Dealing With Nursing School Stress

Now that you have your arsenal of stress-busting tools, it’s time to put them to work as you build a calmer nursing school existence.

Follow the six steps below to create a weekly study and self-care schedule that will help you feel more joyful, relaxed, and less anxious about classes, clinical, and tests.

Step 1: Create a Schedule

Start by creating a schedule. The ideal schedule should be detailed enough that you know when you have classes, when you should be studying and when you should step back for some “you time.”

However, it should not be so involved that you do not have any wiggle room for adding in an unexpected dinner with friends or taking a nap when you’re overly tired.

Time management is key to success in nursing school. You’ll probably feel as if you have never been so busy before now, and you may not even feel this busy when you’re working as a licensed nurse.

Think of new ways to use your time wisely. For example, you might want to bring study cards along on your walks or combine a study group/session among friends with an evening out for appetizers.

Pro-Tip
Creating a schedule is even more important if you’re working during your nursing program.

Make sure to check out this article on the best jobs for nursing students.

Step 2: Know When to Step Back From Studies

You could study during every free moment you have if you so desired. There is so much information packed into each nursing textbook and class and so much new medical research being done every year that you could never be done learning.

While a lifelong dedication to learning is vital for being a good nurse, you need to make room in your life for other pursuits that feed your mind and soul and allow you to enjoy your hobbies.

These other activities can rejuvenate your body and mind so when you do return to your nursing studies, you will be better prepared for soaking in what you need to know.

Step 3: Formulate Smart Study Strategies

Of course, you will still need to dedicate plenty of time to studying over the course of nursing school. Consider whether you study better by yourself or with others.

I found that I did best on my own for most classes, although pharmacology was a rare exception where I found it easier to quiz the names and uses of drugs with one other classmate.

However, you may find larger study groups are more effective for you. Whichever type of studying you opt for, be sure you schedule it in your planner several times each week.

Pro-Tip
Some students find it easier to hire a tutor to help them formulate a good study game plan.

On top of that, a tutor can also help you tackle topics you’re struggling with. It will help your stress if you know you have a tutor in your corner.

You don’t want just any tutor. You want one that deals specifically with nursing school students.

You can ask your nursing faculty, or you can go here to use the platform we recommend to find a tutor who works with nursing students (it’s typically someone who is a licensed nurse turned tutor).

Start searching for a tutor for nursing school.

Step 4: Care for Your Body With Food and Movement

Without healthy food and enough movement, your body and mind will begin to feel sluggish.

Feeling hungry will increase your stress. Nursing school will take some time to get through, and you must maintain good health throughout these months or years.

Although it may seem like a waste of time to prepare healthy meals, you can think of it as the time you’re putting into nursing school success.

Be sure to start your day with protein and to include plenty of complex carbohydrates for long-lasting energy and healthy fats to keep you full longer.

Try to stay away from processed foods and fast food, which tend to provide you with more refined carbohydrates and saturated fat than you should be consuming.

Pro-Tip
Sometimes (or a lot of times) it’s unavoidable, and fast food is the only option. If that is the case, opt for some of the healthier options they have on their menu.

Workout sessions do not have to be long to be effective. Even a 30-minute cardio session will boost your endorphins.

Ten minutes of stretching before bed will loosen tight muscles and help you feel more relaxed and peaceful. When you’re feeling particularly stressed, a short exercise session can break through your anger or worry.

Step 5: Make Time for Rest

As you build your daily and weekly schedules, be sure you schedule time for sleep.

Individuals over the age of 18 should be getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, and you’re sure to find your sweet spot where you feel your most rested and energetic.

For example, I feel best when I sleep at least 8 hours each night, but you may feel great at 7 hours and overly tired and sluggish with 9 hours.

Keep in mind that rest is different from sleep. There are times when you may need to rest your mind but do not need to go to bed to do so.

Restful activities will probably look different for you than they do for me. While I find knitting, painting, or reading a book very restful to my mind, you may prefer a hike through nature, a warm bath, or even a baking session in your kitchen.

Be sure to make time for these rejuvenating experiences that will make your classroom and study times more effective.

For the 99% of Nursing Students Who Hate Reading Textbooks

Check out The Nursing Student Academy. A supplemental learning platform that helps fill in the gaps those nursing textbooks leave out (or make it difficult to find).

Step 6: Deal With Your Emotions

Feelings of anxiety, stress, and even inadequacy may be inevitable in nursing school, but you can take steps to deal with these emotions as they occur rather than sweeping them under the rug.

Find a safe place where you can share your emotions. This might be a parent, a significant other, or a good friend. Whoever you choose should be able to hold your confidence.

You can also deal with some of your emotions on your own. As I mentioned, exercising can help burn off some stress. You may also find it helpful to journal.

Record how you’re feeling each day and what is causing you stress. The simple act of writing down your emotions can help you let them go.

Pro-Tip
You may also find that a bullet journal is a great place for you to create lists and reminders, decreasing the stress of having to remember everything.

I already gave you some options above. In case you missed it, here’s another example of a good bullet journal you can get.

Saying Goodbye to Stress

All of the physical, mental and emotional aspects of nursing school can lead to loads of stress.

Dealing with your stress regularly and taking steps to reduce daily worries will help nursing school become a more positive experience.

Comment below with tips that have helped you cope with your school-related stress.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Nursing school is stressful because the material covered is difficult, and a lot of assignments are given with very little time to complete them. Even though it’s challenging, passing nursing school is doable as long as you’re dedicated and determined to finish.

Some of the ways nursing students deal with stress are by exercising and venting to family and friends. Stress is a constant issue in nursing school, so stress management is a skill that every student nurse should hone.

One of the most stressful situations you’ll be in nursing school is when you take your first exam. Nursing school exams are different from a lot of the exams you would have taken. They require critical thinking and aren’t something you can regurgitate from the book. If you have test anxiety, that will also contribute to the difficulty.

The hardest semester for me during nursing school was the semester right before the last semester. I had hard classes, and the fatigue of being in nursing school was starting to get to me.

The last semester was the easiest for me. I was familiar with the exams, so test anxiety was no longer a major issue for me. Plus, I had already taken my hardest classes, so it was primarily writing papers and projects.

The clinical experience was not as stressful to me as the actual class lectures and exams. As long as you show up to the clinical setting on time, prepared, ready to learn, and with a good attitude, you’ll probably pass your clinical training without any issues.

They’re both stressful, but I think nursing school is worse because you have more control over your nursing career than you do as a student nurse. For starters, if a job is too stressful and you don’t like it, you can always switch to a less stressful nursing job.

Nursing is one of the harder degrees a college student can try to get. Whether or not it’s the hardest is up for debate, but it’s definitely not one of the easiest.