Reorienting Yourself to the Nursing School Year

By Nursing Student Caitlin Webb

It’s that time of year when beach trips start to slow down, and commercials of back to school shopping reappear while you’re binge watching your favorite summer time series. After a few months of lounging and taking some very much needed r and r, it can be difficult to get back into the routine of school. There are several things that you can do to making the re-adjustment period run more smoothly that will have you forgetting about those days on the beach (almost!).

Get organized 

During the summer it’s easy to lose track of what day of the week it is as they all seem to blend together into one giant month. This can make it difficult to get back onto a routine. Rather than waiting for the mental break down a month into the semester, prior to school starting you should get organized.

Buy a planner. I cannot tell you how many times this has saved me from forgetting a homework assignment and has prevented an exam from sneaking up on. It can be a cheap from one from the dollar store, or a more elaborate one from Kate Spade. Get one that you think will keep you most organized. Write down when your exams are, when projects are due, as well as writing how many days until each one is. This will prevent a ‘surprise’ exam or homework the day you get to class. You might be laughing at the thought of that, but I’ve seen it happen to nursing students of all types.

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If you’re not one for carrying a planner, hang a calendar up on the wall so you can mark important dates down. Put it in a place you walk past frequently and get in the habit of looking at it, even if it’s just for a few seconds. The more times you read something the more likely you are to remember it.

Fix your sleep cycle

During the summer time, I am one of many that fall victim to completely destroying my circadian rhythm. My sleep cycle is all over the place due to late night Netflix binges and indulging on the freedom to sleep through my alarm. Once school time comes around many find it difficult to fall asleep at an appropriate time and waking up seems impossible. Fixing your sleep cycle right before school starts will help tremendously when you have that 8 am class where the professor closes the door at the second the clock strikes the hour.

Stop using electronics before bed. So many of us sleep right next to our phones and the temptation to roll over and start playing candy crush is increasingly high when we can’t fall asleep. It has been found that the blue light project from electronics such as smartphones, TV’s and even laptops keeps us awake. An hour before bed, make sure you alarm is set and turn everything off. I find that this hour is useful for planning my week out in my planner, reviewing a study guide or even reading the latest New York Times best seller-something I don’t normally I have time for in my busy day.

Limit your caffeine throughout the day. I am fully aware as a coffee addict myself how insane that may sound. But, it’s been proven that drinking coffee past 3 pm can hinder falling asleep that night. Stay away from alcohol as well. A few drinks can help put you to sleep but your body won’t be able to hit REM during your sleep cycle. This is the deepest sleep you can possible have during your sleep cycle; it helps us recharge our brains and remember the important things we reviewed that day.

Avoid the temptation to sleep-in on the weekend. It’s exhausting getting up at seven on the weekdays and once Saturday rolls around getting up at ten am seems like the biggest treat you can give yourself. This can actually make your life harder during the week. While sleeping a little past seven won’t hurt your circadian rhythm, a few extra hours can. It’ll make it harder to fall asleep when it’s the appropriate time and you’ll find yourself dragging to get out of bed at 7am come Monday.

Find a balance

Once the school year starts I get completely wrapped up in all my work and begin to forget about finding time for me. While academics play a very important role in our lives and should take top priority, it’s important to find time to relax and do the things you enjoy.

Prioritize exams above all else, but if you find yourself at home on a Saturday doing homework, take a few hours to yourself. Whether it is reading a book, catching up on your favorite TV show or going out with your friends, it’s important to do something for yourself. When I begin to completely emerge myself in my school work and don’t take time out of my day for hobbies or my friends, I find myself burned out pretty quickly. Finding a balance between work and play will make life more enjoyable. It’s important whether you’re in college or working a full-time job (or both!).

While summer may still be hanging on, the leaves are beginning to change and fall will be here before you know it. If you keep in mind and start now on re-adjusting your life for the craziness that is school, the transition will be much smoother and you’ll have more time to relax rather than freak-out.


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