Anxiety is a problem that every nursing student will face. There are many situations that may cause feelings of nervousness, anxiety, or fear. Some of those situations include the first day of nursing school, the first day of clinicals, giving a presentation, taking the NCLEX, taking the HESI exam, and more.
If you find yourself constantly worrying and stressing about the future, then you might be in anxiety overload. A little anxiety is a natural feeling—we all feel that when doing something new. However, when you dwell on those feelings, your anxiety levels can skyrocket, leaving you feeling depressed, exhausted, and overwhelmed.
Here are some tips to combat anxiety in nursing school.
How to Beat Anxiety in Nursing School
There are several strategies you can use to reduce your anxiety levels in nursing school. Here are some suggestions for those of you who are struggling with these feelings:
Get to Campus Early
If you’re nervous about your first day of college, or your first day back to class in nursing school, then consider visiting campus a week or so early. Park in the parking lot, and stroll around to familiarize yourself with the various buildings. This will reduce a lot of the “unknown,” and it can help you to feel more comfortable on your first big day back.
Make a Friend
When I was sitting in a brand new class, I’d always be so nervous. I’m a bit of an introvert, so I’m not a huge fan of small talk. However, I realized that if I struck up a conversation with a classmate, it helped reduce that tension and anxiety of being in a new environment.
Therefore, try to find someone in the hall, or someone seated close to you, and introduce yourself. Ask them questions about what specialty they hope to work in, or where the industry in which they hope to work.
Practice for Clinicals and Skills Exams at Home
There’s no doubt that you’ll have to perform a skills exam, or enter clinicals in order to graduate. You may stress about missing a vein, misreading a blood pressure, etc.
To combat this, try practicing the basic skills at home on a friend or family member. There are lots of skills you can master, such as checking a pulse, checking blood pressure, etc. Of course, you can’t do all skills (I wouldn’t recommend attempting a Foley Catheter insertion!), but you can practice enough skills to reduce that tension.
We have a ton of videos with nursing skills, and you can gain some insight about what you’ll learn in nursing school.
Also, just remember that ALL nursing students feel exactly as you do. When you get up to give a presentation or practice a skill, no one is thinking about you! They are all thinking about how nervous they are, and what they’re going to do when it’s their turn! You’ll make mistakes, but that’s okay. So will everyone else!
So don’t fret in clinicals or during nursing skills exams. You’ll learn from your mistakes, and it will make you become a better nurse in the long run!
Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Study
A lot of anxiety builds when you realize that you’re not prepared for exams. The best way to overcome this is to develop the discipline to study a little each day, as opposed to waiting until the week before to cram it all in. By studying a little at a time, you’ll also learn the material more deeply, which will come in handy during NCLEX.
There are lots of tests and projects in nursing school, such as the HESI or ATI exams, class exams, presentations, etc. If you are not organized, it is easy to get overwhelmed fast, especially if you are also working part time or raising children. So go into nursing school with a plan to stay organized, and study a little each day. That way, you’ll feel much more prepared for your exams, and your anxiety levels will evaporate.
Use Relaxation Techniques
Finally, you can take it easy as often as you can by taking advantage of the many relaxation techniques. You can get a massage (they even have automated ones in many malls now). You can listen to relaxing music or take a bubble bath.
If you find yourself stressed out and nervous on the way to clinicals or an exam, use breathing techniques to calm your nerves. Take in deep breaths, hold them for a couple of seconds, and then exhale deeply. Repeat this process to ease your anxiety.
Conclusion: Don’t Let Anxiety Win
Anxiety is a normal human response to an unknown or dangerous situation. A little anxiety can be good, because you can use that to your advantage to study harder. However, when anxiety builds, it can lead to exhaustion, frustration, and even depression.
Don’t become a victim of a stressed out, anxious life. Use the techniques above, and hopefully, you’ll be much more comfortable in your own skin.