I thought all this would be over by now.
Autumn is my favourite time of year. It’s a new season & a new term, a fresh start for everyone just beginning their degree. I’m sure you were all looking forward to “getting back to normal” after this year. But of course 2020 still has other plans.
A lot of students who were expecting to return to uni & lectures have suddenly had to go back to distance learning. Last month has been full of uncertainty, miscommunication & overnight changes. Being a student nurse is hard enough, & with a global pandemic on top its even more chaotic!
So how do you navigate such uncertain times?
How can you plan for anything when at a drop of a hat those plans are binned? What do you do when universities & placements can’t give you straight answers, or don’t even get back to you?
I don’t have the magic answers you need but here are 5 ways on dealing with uncertainty to prevent stress overload.
1. Be as flexible as possible
I can guarantee that every single person has been disappointed this year multiple times. Everyone has cancelled plans & holidays & events they were really looking forward to. You may well feel what’s the point in making plans because we don’t know what’s going to happen & will probably have to cancel. Instead of feeling bitter & hopeless about your situation, learn how to adapt & stay as flexible as possible. This doesn’t mean try & plan for every eventuality but be prepared if suddenly your placement is cancelled, or you can no longer meet your uni friends. Accept that change is inevitable & stay open & flexible to it, as its more important now than ever before. When things change, take a moment to process it, talk to people who matter & get more information & advice if needed, & then decide how you adapt to this change. Developing these skills will make you a better student & a better nurse!
2. Don’t Hold Onto Specific Outcomes
A lot of students expecting to graduate this academic year have had to delay it by 6 months or more. This can feel really disheartening after all your hard work. But its important to focus on the fact that you are still graduating & you will finish your course to become a qualified nurse. You cannot control every single situation, learn how to go with the flow instead of fighting it. You will still achieve your goal, it just may look different to how you expected it. By letting go of your expectations & focusing on what’s important will help you manage any last minute changes.
3. Let your emotions out
Do not feel guilty for being upset or disappointed or scared. If you need to have a good cry or scream in frustration then let it out! No one can tell you what you are allowed to feel, or that you should suck it up & be grateful its not worse. These are your emotions & its important to feel them & let them out instead of trying to push them down! Some people find that writing out how they feel gives them a release, or recording a voice note of all their anxieties they can’t say out loud to someone, helps them to process their emotions.
4. Don’t Spiral Into a negativity pit
Once you recognise & accept your emotions its important to take action. Maybe just letting them out & writing them down was enough & you already feel better. If not, then you must reach out for further help & support. This doesn’t always mean talking to someone, there are a lot of self-help tools & resources available. So long as you do something to help yourself & not dwell in depression or anxiety. This could be more self-care, or leaving negative group chats, or limiting media exposure.
5. Reflect on challenges you have overcome.
We all need a reminder sometimes of just how strong we really are. Especially when things seem really tough & you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything. Take 10 minutes & a quiet space to sit & think of a really difficult time in your past, or when you were faced with a tough challenge. Try to recall as many details as possible & think of how you felt at the time. Now remember what you did to get through that difficult time or how you overcame the challenge. Even if things didn’t work out the way you expected, or you felt you didn’t handle it well or even failed….you still got through it. You still learnt from it & developed your resilience & coping skills as a result. You may even look back & realise how far you have come & how things have improved since that memory.
Reflecting on past events serves as a reminder of what you’re capable of & that you are strong & determined enough to overcome this uncertainty.
Although reflection is a basic human behaviour it is also a key fundamental of nursing. Developing your reflective practice is an essential skill for nursing & will also help you in your personal life. Most universities teach reflection including different theories & models at the beginning of the nursing degree, & recommend students keep a reflective journal as part of this module. You can use any old notebook as a diary to record events from university or placement which you felt contributed to your learning in some way.
The Student Nurse Guide Reflection Journal was designed specifically for nursing students to improve their reflection skills.
Each page includes space to record the date, location, key learning point to help you quickly recall & find the subject, & read around to help develop your knowledge of key nursing skills as a result of your reflection. A reflective writing outline is also included on every reflective account page to help guide your writing & keep you on track. It also includes a real example of a student nurse’s reflective account to draw from if you get stuck. Featuring a modern contemporary design in A5 size, it is easy to keep at hand ready to record any learning opportunity as it happens, with approx 180 lined pages. This notebook is a perfect way of keeping all your reflective accounts in one place throughout your degree.
Connect with The Student Nurse Guide & let me know what you would like to see more of? What questions do you have that you are too afraid to ask? Send us a message or comment below with what you want to know.