It is common for students to place great pressure on their shoulders when studying towards an important healthcare qualification, such as a degree.
Despite being filled with ambition and determination to secure a diploma and enter a dream job, there might be times when you feel a mental or physical pressure ahead of a test or in-depth paper. To ensure you pass with flying colours, read these top tips on how to take the stress out of studying.
Boost Your Mood with Exercise
Eliminate stress from your body by making time for physical activity. A vigorous workout will get your body moving, your heart racing, and your blood pumping, which can lift your mood and boost your energy levels. Physical activity can also decrease stress hormones in the body, such as cortisol, while stimulating endorphins, which is a mood-boosting chemical.
There are various exercises you can do to eradicate stress while studying for a healthcare qualification, such as:
- Brisk walking
- Strength training
Therefore, exercise can be an effective way to cleanse your body of stress, which is ideal for those studying for an important programme, such as a doctor of nursing practice (DNP).
Find the right programme for you
Choosing the right programme can prevent a healthcare student from struggling with stress. For example, if you are planning to study while juggling a full-time job and/or a busy family life, you should consider enrolling in an online course.
For example, if you’re a registered nurse and want to become a senior leader, you would be wise to consider a flexible DNP programme. It will allow you to advance your clinical and leadership skills during an 8- or 16-week DNP course that fits your working life.
Plus, you’ll receive dedicated support and one-to-one coaching during a DNP programme, which can reduce the pressure on your shoulders during the study.
Create an Effective Study Timetable
Organisation is key to a stress-free studying experience each year. For instance, if you’re juggling a job alongside a DNP programme, you could feel more in control of each task by creating a study timetable.
Sit down and flesh out a study plan for the week or month ahead, which will ensure you have time to cover every task on your to-do list. However, you must stick to the plan and factor in time for breaks and relaxation to avoid burning.
Take a few moments to breathe
With so many topics to master and tests to tackle, it is natural that you might feel a little out of your depth from time to time. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, set aside a few moments to take a deep breath, and focus on the present moment.
Deep breathing can help put your worries into perspective, lower your heart rate, and decrease your stress levels. It could also help you push through an intense study session, or mentally prepare yourself for an upcoming test.
Switch off social media
Social media cannot only impact your productivity, but various studies have found that platforms can make people feel more stressed. What’s more, students are more likely to experience a fear of missing out, which can heighten their emotions and place greater pressure on their shoulders.
For this reason, you must switch off social media when studying for a life-changing qualification, as it could prevent you from experiencing negative thinking or high-stress levels. It might help to uninstall social media apps from your phone or tablet to prevent procrastination. If this isn’t enough to avoid temptation, you could install a website blocker or an app that will block access to specific sites for a scheduled period, such as during study.
Embrace Mother Nature
Re-energise your mind and body by changing your environment when you experience stress when studying. Going for a outdoor walk could lift your mood and decrease tension in the body, which can sharpen your focus when you return to study.
If possible, spend at least 20 minutes in a natural space, such as a park, as the calming sounds and tranquil setting can reportedly reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Go for a walk alone, take your dog for a wander, or enjoy a relaxed stroll with your other half. It will ensure you feel fresh and happier once you return to your desk.
Talk to your peers
It is normal to feel anxious and tense ahead of a long stretch of studying or when prepping for an upcoming test. Talking to your peers can be an effective way to control your overwhelming emotions and enjoy mental clarity.
As well as talking to your family and friends, it might also help to talk to other students on your course. An online DNP programme is a prime example, as you’ll be able to engage with experienced nurses on the course, who will likely be feeling the same way as you. By sharing your worries or emotions, you’ll be able to put your concerns into perspective and develop a newfound focus.
Enjoy a good night’s rest
It can be tempting to skip sleep in favour of cramming the books. While you might be eager to complete a doctor of nursing practice or another programme, it shouldn’t stand in the way of good physical or mental health. A good night’s sleep can help students to develop a relaxed mind and body, which can combat rising stress levels.
Aim to enjoy at least seven to eight hours of shuteye each night and ease yourself into sleep by switching off all devices at least one hour before bed. It will help you to drift off, and you’ll wake up feeling fresh, focused, and ready to tackle the books or a paper.
A strict bedtime routine can boost your brainpower, as establishing specific sleep and study times can train your brain into learning during the set period. Every study session will count, and you could secure better grades. If you feel tired during the day due to a lack of sleep, grab a 20-minute power nap to recharge your batteries. However, you must avoid sleeping any longer, to ensure you don’t feel groggy and disrupt your sleeping pattern.
Pick the right snacks
Many students will often munch on snacks to boost their energy levels when studying. However, some items can heighten your stress levels, such as caffeine and junk food. To increase your energy and develop a positive mindset, it is wise to ditch the coffee and sugar-filled treats. Instead, pick snacks that are known for boosting a person’s mood, such as:
- Dark chocolate
- Sunflower seeds
- Pistachio nuts
However, you must eat the above foods in moderation, as consuming too much could make you feel sluggish and unfocused. You could also swap a cup of coffee for either a black or green tea, as they can reportedly produce lower cortisol levels, a stress hormone, after an intense task.
Give yourself a break
While dedicated study time can help you to manage your time and sharpen your focus, you must avoid overdoing it. Getting in the zone doesn’t mean cramming the books for hours without a break, as this can cause your stress levels to unnecessarily rise. Instead, step back from your workspace to enjoy a well-deserved break, which you can use to listen to music, make a healthy snack, or chat with a loved one.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Many students believe they must know all the answers to many questions, so they are often afraid to ask others for help. However, if you want to grow your education, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions when you don’t know the answer.
Take an online DNP programme as an example. Students will not only be able to communicate with other nurses, but they will receive one-to-one coaching to ensure they succeed and reach their goal of becoming a nurse practitioner. Many institutions don’t expect students to know the answers to tough questions, which is the course’s purpose. Don’t be afraid to ask your coach, teacher, or a friend in your class for assistance, as it will make you a better student.
Enjoy the experience
Studying is an important aspect of any course, but you also should aim to enjoy the learning experience. While reading textbooks and writing papers will likely take up a great deal of your time, you should aim to form strong relationships with other students, as they could help you to relax and could prove influential in your career.
For example, suppose you enrol in a DNP programme. In that case, you will have an opportunity to connect with other ambitious healthcare professionals, who you can learn from each day. This opportunity will not come around again, so you shouldn’t spend your time feeling stressed and must aim to embrace every moment and opportunity that comes your way.
Eradicate stress and tension from your body by practicing progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). The tactic requires you to tense and then relax all your muscles until you feel calm and relaxed.
Follow the below technique to master PMR:
- Breathe in while tensing your first muscle group for four to ten seconds – you should hold the muscle hard but shouldn’t experience pain or cramping.
- Breathe out while completely relaxing the muscle group – don’t gradually relax it.
- Relax your muscles for 10 to 20 seconds before repeating the process on a different muscle group.
It is an effective technique to try before bed, before a big test, or when you feel stressed. It could help you enjoy a deeper sleep each night and reduce any panic or anxiety you feel.
Banish stress with music
Did you know that music can provide many cognitive benefits? The right songs can help you to feel calmer while stimulating your brain, so it can be an effective option for overcoming stress and strain.
Research has found that listening to classical music can increase a person’s dopamine levels and can even treat depression. Plus, it can reportedly improve a student’s learning and memory. For this reason, you should listen to classical songs from the likes of Mozart, Chopin, or Debussy.
Alternatively, you could lift your mood by listening to your favourite upbeat music, or you can enter a more relaxed state by playing songs with slow melodies. So, if you want to feel focused and relaxed when studying for a doctor of nursing practice or another programme, you should put on some headphones and listen to your favourite songs. It will work wonders for your mood and education.
It’s common for students to feel some level of stress when attempting to increase their education and improve their career opportunities. While it is easy to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of many months or years of study or feel anxious ahead of a big test or paper, you must look for ways to relax your mind and body.
For example, you could lower your stress levels by choosing the right programme for your lifestyle, creating an effective study timetable, and listening to upbeat or classical music. There are also tactics you can try to feel happier and healthier when studying, such as taking a stroll through a green space or practicing progressive muscle relaxation.
It would help if you are not afraid to lean on others for support, such as relatives or your fellow students. Many programmes, such as a DNP, will provide dedicated coaches to support students throughout a course, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for their help whenever you need it. It could make the experience much more enjoyable and could boost your passion for your chosen industry.