Nursing is a career that can be very mentally, physically, and emotionally draining. Nurses that want to progress through the ranks and earn a higher position in their career will often need to take an online degree, which has the potential to be very stressful when juggled with a full-time nursing career. Online degree programs often provide the ideal option for busy nurses who would like a flexible study option that suits their lifestyle and can fit around their work shifts. However, while studying online is certainly more flexible and gives you the option to decide when you’d like to study based on your everyday needs, it’s an additional commitment and workload that can be stressful to take on when you’re already busy. Managing your stress levels is already important for nurses and even more crucial for nurses taking an advanced degree while working full time. Here are some tips to keep in mind to help you manage your stress levels and get the results that you want from your studies.
Create a Study Schedule:
Finding the time to study is not always easy if you are a nurse working shifts through the night, weekends, and other unsociable hours. The best thing to do to ensure that you do not fall behind with your studies is to check your shift schedule in advance and work out when the best time to study will be on a week-by-week basis. When you get your shift schedule, see where you are free for study when you are likely to be energized rather than tired, such as before your shift starts.
Schedule in Breaks:
It can be tempting to use all your days off to catch up on studying, but this is only likely to lead to burnout and exhaustion over time. When you are working long hours as a nurse, it’s so important to make sure that you take some time to yourself to relax and do the things that you enjoy so that you can return to both your work and your studies feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to face whatever is thrown at you. While it might be useful to use some of your time off for studying, make sure that you have at least one free day a week where you can take a break from both.
Set Up a Study Area:
Online degrees are the ideal choice for nurses who want that additional flexibility to get their advanced qualification while continuing to work. However, the one downside to them is that they often involve studying from home, which can be very distracting. Taking the time to create a dedicated study space in your home can make it easier for you to get in the right mindset for learning and have a zone that you go to for focusing rather than setting up on your sofa or in the kitchen where you’re likely to be distracted by general things around the house. If there are no suitable areas in your home for studying, you might want to consider getting out of the house to a local library or another suitable public area to get it done if you are struggling to focus at home.
Select the Right Study Program:
There are many different advanced nursing programs to choose from, so it’s important to do plenty of research before you enroll and make sure that you will be studying one suitable for you. Online nursing programs come in a range of different flavors, and you can often choose from programs that allow you full flexibility to ones that have set online classes that you’ll need to attend. Depending on your work hours and your other commitments, either type of program could be ideal for you. If you think that you might benefit from attending in-person classes and mix with your peers face to face, consider a hybrid program that includes both online and classroom learning. Check out the online BSN to DNP programs available from Baylor University to learn more about your options.
Live a Healthy Lifestyle:
Looking after your health and wellbeing is crucial to managing your stress levels and ensuring that you control your workload. When you’re juggling working full-time with studying, it’s crucial to ensure that you are making sure you have enough time to get enough sleep. As a nurse, you already know just how important sleep is to your health and wellbeing, so don’t deny it to yourself. The food that you eat can also make a huge difference to how you feel and your stress levels while working and studying for an advanced degree, so set aside some time to prepare healthy food or consider signing up for a healthy meal subscription plan so that you’re not tempted to eat too much takeout and convenience foods that aren’t very nutritious. Finally, make sure that you are getting enough exercise – as a nurse, you’ll already know the risks of sitting for long periods of time, so be sure to schedule walks and other forms of physical activities to break up your day when studying.
Get Help and Support:
Working full-time as a nurse while studying for an advanced degree is no easy task, so now is the time to ask for and accept as much help and support as you can get. Be sure to speak to your employer about your plans and ask about any forms of support available to you, whether that’s financial support or support that involves changing your work hours to make studying easier, for example. And, take up your friends and family on their offers of practical support whether they’re offering to watch your kids or cook you dinner a couple of times a week; you will certainly be grateful for the help.
Working full-time as a nurse while getting your advanced nursing degree is not an easy task, but it’s definitely possible to succeed with the right plan.