Nursing students

Hi all! Hope your summer has gone well! It has been a fun and busy one for me, especially since I had a clinical group for a super fast summer session. Clinicals can be tough enough on a good day, but for my fundamentals nursing students, summer session is like learning via a fire hose!

As we head back into the fall session and the stress level starts to amp up again, I thought I would share some self-care tips for nursing students. Although you may have heard a few of them in the past, really take them in and consider, “how is your self-care routine?” Students are notorious for not taking care of themselves and I think this is amplified in nursing students. People entering the nursing profession tend to seek to put others first and demonstrate a high level of care to others, often at the expense of themselves.

So, here’s my tips for taking care of yourself while in nursing school and after graduation too!

Self-care Tips for Nursing Students

Don’t feel guilty taking care of yourself

I often like to remind folks of what they tell you at the beginning of all commercial flights… “When the oxygen masks fall from the roof, place the mask first on…. YOURSELF. Then help those in need around you.” Why do they tell you that? If you are not OK, you certainly can not help others or be productive! To be quite frank, if you are sick in bed, you aren’t helping anyone, especially your grades. So, remember, it is OK to care for yourself. In fact, if you don’t take care of yourself and ignore the signs your body is signalling to you, it will take maters in its own hands and make you stop! Don’t feel guilty taking care of yourself.

Find balance

The key really to anything in life is finding balance. I know, easier said than done. But, especially for students – all studying and no fun makes a very depressed student. To stay engaged in your studies, engage in life. No, you won’t be able to do everything you did before – but you certainly can find some time for some fun activities. It might just be taking 30 minutes and watching your favorite TV show or going for a walk. Watching TV just might be the nation’s favorite pass time and indulging in a brief break whilst you watch something you like might just help alleviate your stress (you could also read up on more interesting cable tv statistics online, just like the one before)! Just that brief moment of escape can help recharge your mind and soul and get you back focused on your task at hand. No plan is successful when you wall yourself in your room for marathon study sessions. Sure, you have a lot to learn – you want to be an awesome nurse – but you will actually remember more when you have found balance and your brain is more fresh and receptive. When it does come to your study sessions, you’ve got to keep in mind whether or not your surroundings are optimally conducive to working productively and if you should change up your workstation in some way. For example, every desk needs a filing cabinet, so if you’ve only got a desk then you’ve only got a piece of the pie. Getting a filing cabinet can really help you when it comes to organizing your study papers and assignments. You’ll also want a comfortable chair too as you’ll find it difficult to sit for long unless you do.

Schedule in some fun time, along with your study time

A way to help keep the balance is to actually schedule it in! Just like you would put in your work schedule, make sure you schedule your study time and your fun time. By visualizing it all, you will be able to better evaluate if you have a good balance. Plus, if you schedule it some down time, you are likely to participate and do it. But, don’t have too much fun…. remember, balance! It might also be a good idea to research online tutoring websites such as if you need support writing any essays. There are some fantastic educational resources out there so do not be afraid to see if you can find anything online to make your studies easier.

Rest and fuel

Your body is an amazing machine! Look at all we require of it all day, every day. Well, in return, it requires being cared for. I am not going to lecture you on a balance diet, but I will put my two cents in about getting appropriate sleep. So often students like to cheat themselves of sleep. This is probably one of the worst things you can do to yourself. Sure, you have a lot of studying to do, but it will be useless if you are not mentally able to take it all in. I understand that all of your stress and worry about upcoming exams and practicals could be keeping you awake at night. It’s happened to all of us at one point or another. But it is so important that you get a good night’s sleep, and if you can’t, then products like CBD oil, or other sleep remedies may be just what you need to consider to get a decent rest. If you do have help, make sure you take the right dosage. You’ll only have yourself to thank when you feel fresh and raring to go. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that a sleep deprived person is just as impaired as a drunk person. Would you study drunk and expect to be successful on your next test? (wait….don’t answer that!) Of course not! Get a good nights rest and you will be much more successful than trying to fly on 4 hours. Not to mention, when you come to clinicals, you are essentially impaired and placing people’s lives at risk… don’t be that person!

Good self-talk

I can not stress this enough! If you have had me for clinicals, I likely have rambled on about this topic as I am very passionate about it. So often students, especially females, tend to have really negative self-talk. For example, telling yourself things like, “why am I so dumb?” or “I will never get this!” Basically you are directing your brain to do or believe such things. Who do you think you listen to more – others or yourself? I can tell a student a 100 times over that they are doing great, but until they start to tell themselves, they will NOT believe it. Remember, the loudest voice you hear is your own, so be careful what you are telling yourself. I challenge you this next week, be aware of what you tell yourself – it might surprise you!

So those are my self-care tips for nursing students. Although not an exhaustive list, I hope it got you thinking a little bit about you plan for being successful in school.

Do you have some really great tips you would like to share? Would love to hear them!! Leave a comment below and share the love!

Until next time – take care, be safe and wash your hands!

This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. More posts on this topic can be found at If you are interested in participating find out more details and sign up.

Comments (22)

  1. Pingback: Nurse Blog Carnival Self Care for Nurses - Marsha Battee

  2. Reply

    Nursing Students for SURE desperately need to be prepared for the reality of nursing. Building self care into their work life plan is truly critical care. Good Self Talk is part of right thinking which leads to right action.

  3. Reply

    Rest and fuel. That was my favorite in this list. There is no way we can be productive if we are cranky, foggy, and running on empty. Great post, Joan! And I would share doing the things that put a smile on your face. Have fun in life and remember to enjoy yourself. When you do, it will be easier to get the self-care into a busy schedule.

  4. Reply

    Definitely plan FUN time away from school. Nursing school is exhausting, I remember always feeling like my down time needed to be filled with learning or studying something. To prevent fatigue – creating and planning fun time is so important to rejuvenate!

  5. Pingback: Time Travel, and An Award Accepted Via Time Travel | Big Red Carpet Nursing

  6. Reply

    Your advice regarding self-care is crucially important, Joan. People too often run the wrong race. If you run an sprint but it’s actually a marathon, you’re screwed. It’s obvious when put this way, but I see people make exactly that pacing mistake rather often. They go down in flames, recover, repeat. Some learn in time. Your post helps.

  7. Reply

    Great advice here Joan! Nursing students could absolutely benefit from your advice here. I love that you mention not to feel guilty for self-care. So often that is a problem for nurses. We all have to find our unique balance in what we need to make things work for ourselves. Thank you!

  8. Reply

    I’m very excited to see such a visible supportive post to encourage nursing students to make self-care a priority early on. Nicely done, Joan. The tips are great and the encouragement could have a wonderful rippling effect on our whole healthcare system for years to come!

  9. Reply

    Oh Joan,
    You are preaching to the choir!
    Rest….I have been teaching nursing for many years. I can’t tell you the number of students who work all night and then come to clinical. Can you imagine?
    We discourage students, say it isn’t allowed…. but how can you enforce it?

    Thanks for your thoughtful post!

  10. Reply

    I was so afraid of moving because of the pain and spasms. But since starting to move and do the exercises with your advices. I am slowly improving. thank you very much

  11. Reply

    One overlooked way to safeguard your health and rebalance your life as a nurse- delegate. What household tasks can you take off your plate and give to a smart, caring teammate?

    Sites like TaskRabbit and FancyHands allow you to hire affordable help tomaintain an organized, stress-free personal life so you can devote your all to nursing. Outsource your laundry, grocery shopping and even cooking and regain time for yourself and familu. Consider this your permission to get that help if you need it.

  12. Reply

    These are great self-care tips. Thanks for sharing. I also use few of these tips myself to tune up my body. Other than these, I also take a quick nap, read a novel for refreshment, go out for a walk, take deep breaths, lie on my back and relax, do meditation for some time, play with my pet , or lose myself to my happy and good memories to fine-tune body, mind, and soul. I also pay complete attention to what I usually do and reach out for help – big or small.

  13. Mary Wishall


    After teaching full-time for the last 8 years, I have come to the conclusion that nursing students desperately need to learn and practice self-care not only while they are in nursing school, but also as practicing nurses after graduation. Thank you for these tips and I intend to incorporate the need for self-care into orientation for new nursing students next month. We nurses do not practice self-care as a whole and it is the same for nursing faculty. I have taken steps for self-care and a lifestyle change after not feeling well last fall. I now feel so much better!

    • Joan RN


      So true! It needs to start early and be introduced in school. Would love to hear how you plan to implement this into orientation! Thanks for your kind words & giving back to your profession!!

  14. Mary Wishall


    With your permission I would like to adapt and share this when I orient the new nursing students. I will be sure to give you credit. Thanks for your consideration.

  15. Mary Wishall


    I am planning to do a 10 minute presentation, but will also ask them what their present self-care practices are.

  16. Chealse


    Thank you for this post! Nursing school at home during this pandemic has been mentally draining. I wake up every day run downstairs to my desk and sit for 10 hours just studying. I feel like I’ll never learn it all on my own,I miss face to face instruction as I retain far more. I feel as if I’ve been trying to learn more by shoving my face in the book all day. Reading this reminded me to stop and care for myself, something I haven’t been doing at all. I think I’ll plan a coffee date with an old friend this week! Thank you!!

    • Joan RN


      We are definitely living through trying & difficult times. I glad it helped you take a moment to care for yourself, because you are worth it!!

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