Tips & Advice

Survive the Stress as You Navigate Through Nursing School

Tips & AdviceApril 15, 2019

If you were unaccustomed to stress and unable to cope with pressure, you would probably never have considered a career in nursing. We will assume, then, that you are familiar with stress and willing to confront it, if not adequately manage it. After all, just applying to nursing school is stressful. It requires much advance preparation, time, and effort.

Nursing school is notoriously challenging. But, of course, if nursing were easy, everyone would be doing it. It is not, and they are not. Just being accepted into an online nursing school program, for example, signals your elite status as a person who is willing — and capable — of learning difficult material, and working harder than many other students.

As you navigate your way through nursing school, towards a rewarding career as a professional nurse, it can be helpful to research specific nursing school tips. To that end, we have complied this list of suggestions regarding how to survive nursing school and the stress that inevitably comes with it.

Safety in Numbers

Consider starting, or joining, a study group. This is obviously easy enough to do if you have opted to attend an in-person college of nursing. Find some fellow students and propose meeting regularly to help each other review new material. But even online nursing school may offer opportunities for you to collaborate with other students. Study groups can take a divide-and-conquer approach to learning all the challenging material that will be thrown at you in short order.  

Rapid Review

Consider reviewing and reiterating what you have learned on a given day at the end of that day. Doing so is one way to solidify your grasp of the material. Short bouts of study time are clearly better than last-minute marathon study sessions. Do not neglect this simple approach to consolidating what you have learned; keep it manageable by reviewing every day. 


Self care can take many forms. At its most basic, it involves eating right, getting adequate sleep, and getting exercise on a regular basis. The latter should not be overlooked. Exercise, which can be as simple as taking a walk, or as involved as joining a gym, is an important way to reduce stress and maintain overall health and fitness. There is a reason being sedentary has been added to the list of lifestyle factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease. Sitting too much is toxic. Do your body — and your mind — a favor and get up and move regularly.  

Proper Nutrition

Eating right is another often-overlooked strategy for avoiding undue stress. Stress can take a toll on your body and your immune system function. The last thing you need is to amplify those effects by failing to eat right. Whole foods, grains, fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil are all components of the Mediterranean diet, for example.

This dietary pattern has been shown, repeatedly, to be linked to better immune system function, as well as reduced risks of everything from type 2 diabetes to cardiovascular disease. Notably, this diet does not include much red meat, added sugars, or simple (highly processed) carbohydrates. Unfortunately, these are all common components of the typical American diet.

Mind Your Mood

It is interesting to note that diet may also impact mood. People who eat a high fiber, plant-based diet tend to have better mood, thanks to the effects of these healthful foods on the gut microbiome. This refers to the communities of beneficial microbes living in your gut. Eat too much sugar and too few fiber rich foods and you may actually adversely affect not only your body weight but your mood, by encouraging the growth of less beneficial species, while starving the most beneficial ones.

Learn More About Nursing Programs

Find the Career Path for You