With the Spring semester rearing its head in just days, it’s time to address a topic that I’ve had a lot of questions about: maintaining your sanity OUTSIDE of the classroom. It’s taken me a while to fully understand this concept so I’ll give you a crash course on my social life throughout my nursing school career.
When I started my program over a year ago, I was told that this was going to be a full time commitment and that school has to be the number one priority in my life. I was active in sports, had a social life, and enjoyed hanging out with my best friend while drinking wine and watching Say Yes to the Dress. I took this advice (from an older student who had just graduated) to heart and immediately shut down my social life to pursue my student career. My thought process was that if this theory worked for her and she’s graduating on time, it should work for me. Man, was I wrong.
I stopped hanging out with friends, I dropped out of the team sport I was doing, and Say Yes to the Dress was quickly replaced with youtube videos about maintaining aseptic technique in the clinical setting. I was miserable. The monotony of my schedule began to take its toll and I started to spiral downward into a scary place. My dedication had crossed the line of productivity and quickly changed to anxiety and depression. All of us SN’s are a variation of Type A Personalities but my Type A-ness turned into obsessing about things I had to do, things I could be doing, and things that other people in my class are doing that I’m not. It’s enough to drive anyone insane.
So, I hit rock bottom. I was still getting A’s and B’s in my nursing classes, but my quality of life was mediocre. I didn’t have anyone to really talk to because I had done such a good job of shutting everyone out to ensure that there was no distractions on my road to success. Why am I telling you all of this? It’s not for you to feel sorry for me, but rather for you to realize that there is more to life than books and bedpans.
Quick Tips on Having a Social Life
It Takes a Village… Ever hear that saying? Well the same thing is true for us nursing students. It takes a village to successfully complete any nursing program. Pick your village and keep them close in times of triumph and in times of failure. My village is definitely my friends, family, advisor, and fellow nursing students. As much as I’d like to say I can handle the stress on my own, I’d be lying to you all. Sometimes I just need my best friend to tell me I’m being ridulous and to put the books down.
Free Time is a Must. When I was in a really bad place last year, I went to my advisor to talk about where I was at. She told me that in order to be successful, I had to take one hour a day for myself where I don’t study or do anything nursing related. For me to stick to that plan, I had to make an hourly schedule so I knew where I was and what I was supposed to be doing. Once my “Free Time” hour came up, I knew it was time to ditch the books and have some “Me Time.” Make sure you use this time for something enjoyable-no laundry, cleaning, or errand running allowed (unless that errand is for a bottle of wine and oreos). My fav is the gym.
The B-Word (G-Word). No, no-get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about the two bad words in most nursing student’s vocabularies-Boyfriends/Girlfriends. Most of us, myself included, see maintaining a relationship with anyone but our SIM man to be impossible. You are so, so wrong! I recently found a wonderful guy who makes me really, really happy. He is able to take my mind off of school when I’m stressed and he understands that when I’m in study mode I’m not going to be as available to him. With romantic relationships, set your boundaries and be upfront with him/her about the demands of your school. Set aside (at least) one date night a week where he/she is your main focus. Maintaining this “normal” part of life will ultimately make you a happier person.
When in doubt, schedule it out. Go out and buy a simple planner where you can log all your assignments and tests. This will allow you to see where you can squeeze in a visit home to see your parents, a girl’s weekend with old friends, or a night with your significant other.
When you put it into perspective, there is no way to truly put your life on hold while you take on your nursing program. You have to find your own balancing act that works for YOU. After a few months of struggling, I was able to find the right balance for me which made me so much happier. I’m back on my sports team, my friends are my rock, and my boyfriend has fallen into his own special place in my life. Remember, you are capable and worthy of having a life that contains nursing school and a social life.
Cheers to the Spring Semester!