Tuesday, 4 February 2020

How to Manage Your Mental Health When Studying for a DNP



The topic of mental health is something that has been much more talked about, embraced, and understood over the past decade. Rather than it being something that people shy away from bringing up, or fail to acknowledge, today people have become much more aware of their mental health, warning signs, and the steps they should be taking to ensure it is made a priority. The layers are being peeled away and people don’t feel that same sense of shame, embarrassment, or even loneliness in admitting they are struggling with their mental health.

With that said, there are certain times in life where your mental health is bound to be a bit more fragile and takes somewhat of a hit. Times of extreme stress, pressure, and responsibility are a great example of such an instance. And, one situation that can tick all those boxes is when you’re working towards a degree, in this case, studying for a DNP - or your Doctor of Nursing Practice.
You want to excel in the program, as this is your chance to solidify your career future, but all that energy, stress, pressure, studying, and focus can do a number on your mental health. So how can you make sure you’re able to effectively manage your mental health during this time? Here are some tips well worth working into your daily life.

Opt for an Online DNP Program to Give Your Schedule Flexibility

One tip is the way you approach your schedule. With a traditional degree program where you attend all your classes in person, you have an added layer of stress. You are working on your professor’s schedule and you need to ensure you attend all classes on time and juggle that with the rest of your outside responsibilities.

A really easy solution can be to investigate an online DNP program, such as what you’d find at Baylor University. Besides the fact it is a well-known and highly-respected school, some of the top advantages in an online program include:
·         The ability to attend classes from any place with a computer and internet connection
·         It can be more affordable than a traditional on-campus school
·         There are on-campus immersions throughout the program to give you an in-depth experience
·         Take advantage of clinical placement services
·         There are three terms a year, and each course runs for 15 weeks, giving students lots of flexibility
All in all, this online offering can make for a much more flexible way to go about earning your degree.

Look After Your Physical Health

Even though mental health may be your focus, your physical health will play a large role. When you look after your physical health, it can work to also ensure your mental health is in check. Key things to do include:
1.       Getting enough sleep each night; aim for 7-9 hours each night
2.       Ensure you are well hydrated, reaching for water whenever possible. It is recommended you drink eight 8oz glasses of water per day, which most people fail to do.
3.       Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, making sure you get in plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean proteins
4.       Quit smoking if you currently smoke
5.       Make sure you include exercise or physical activity in your daily routine

While each of these tips is important, it is exercise that truly stands out. Evidence has been growing over the years that show mental health has deep ties to exercise. Simply by working out on a regular basis, you can reduce the risk of depression, and improve mild to moderate depression, anxiety, dementia, and more. This is because exercise has a direct effect on your brain.

Give Yourself Permission to Have Down Time

When you are busy living by a schedule filled with all kinds of responsibilities and tasks, you may not be giving yourself the downtime you need. Sometimes you actually need to give yourself permission to relax and leave those open blocks of time. If you've been looking at downtime as a luxury, it's time to adjust your thinking as it is a necessity.

Downtime allows your body and brain to rest and rejuvenate, almost like resetting itself, allowing you to be that much more prepared to take on challenges. Some of the best ways to spend your downtime include:
        Reading
·         Getting together with friends
·         Cooking
·         Watching a favorite TV show or catching a movie
·         Gardening
·         Painting, or some other type of artwork
·         Listening to music
·         Relaxing in the bath
Really, your downtime can be spent doing anything that relaxes you, and that you enjoy taking part in, as long as it has nothing to do with your studies.

Be Realistic When Setting Your Goals

While it's great to have goals and things you are working towards in life, keep in mind that they need to be realistic. Setting goals that are unrealistic will put undue stress on your mind, and also set you up for failure.
So how do you go about setting realistic goals? You can follow some simple steps.
1.       Begin by brainstorming about various goals you want to achieve.
2.       Now it's time to get specific, how do you plan to achieve that goal? Are the steps realistic? How long will it take?
3.       It may also be necessary to do a little research to help you with the specifics. Things like cost, the skills needed, what you'd have to change in your current lifestyle and so forth may factor in.
4.       Ask yourself if you have any personal limitations that might prevent you from achieving these goals. Can you do anything about it?
5.       Write down the steps now that you've figured out the plan, and be sure to give yourself adequate time to achieve the goal.
6.       Stick to the plan and follow the steps, working through your goals one by one.

Maintaining Your Mental Health as a Student is More than Possible


So, while it may seem like your plate is full and that you are juggling a whole lot at once, in fact maintaining your mental health as you study for your DNP is more than possible. It’s just about setting your priorities.

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