Being a nursing student is not easy. The exam system is relentless, tuition fees are scary, and it does not help that social media fuels this culture of constant comparison to your peers. No wonder you are stressed: after all, stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge.
Physically your body acts as if there is a threat and switches to fight or flight mode, releasing hormones and chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol, which prepare your body to take on the challenge. However, this process might also minimize brain function, which leads to the inability to think straight. Luckily, there are tips to help calm those nerves when preparing for your USMLE, for example:
#1 Listen to classical music.
According to a study from the Duke Cancer Institute, there is a relationship between classical music and reduced stress levels. Most of the patients who underwent the stressful biopsy did not experience a rise in blood pressure while listening to the specific music genre.
Another study in Russia found that when kids regularly listen to an hour of classical music for at least six months, their brains will exhibit significant changes supporting higher levels of calmness. This happened even if they were distracted and not solely focusing on the music. So, why not have some classical music on in the background because you might find you feel more relaxed without even thinking about it.
#2 Spend time around plant life
The presence of plants reduces stress levels; plants change our perception of an environment to be more attractive to us. So we feel more comfortable in it and therefore less stressed. Plants also help to improve productivity. They make it easier for workers in offices to recover from demanding projects.
NASA found that plants improve air quality and, therefore, your health. And that is just a good thing overall. So, go out for nature walks to help your mind relax.
#3 Get enough rest
Getting to bed early is easier said than done if you feel stressed, but you want six hours a night; a sleep ritual might help you with that. Hopefully, you will wake up feeling well, rested, and less anxious because sleep will help you process all of that information you have studied.
Try going to bed and waking up at the same time, seven days a week. This will stop you jet lagging yourself at the weekend. Moreover, put a relaxing bedtime routine in place, maybe a bath and a book. Do not take your phone or laptop to bed with you because the blue light will wake you up, and avoid caffeine four hours before bedtime.
#4 Eat well
Existing on a diet of caffeinated drinks and sugary snacks is typical for a stressed-out student trying to cram information and stay awake. These foods will make you feel jittery, anxious and lead to a decrease in energy and concentration.
Students who have healthy, well-balanced diets are more likely to perform better than those who do not. So, fuel your mind with the right foods. Slow-releasing carbohydrates and fiber-rich fruit and vegetables will keep your blood sugar level stable and healthy fats like omega-3 are perfect for brain health and concentration.
Finally, water is crucial because even mild dehydration will leave you feeling sleepy and not very alert.
#5 Remain positive
The best way to deal with on-the-day exam anxiety, you have to prime your mind. Remember, your brain does not know the difference between real-life danger and imagined danger. You can train your brain to think positively and calmly about an event, even though it fills you with dread.
The more you practice positive visualization, the better and the more confident you will be on the day of your exam. Because as far as your brain is concerned, you have already aced it.
The ultimate tip is to study hard and smart. Being thoroughly prepared will boost your confidence and give you a higher chance of passing the exam. If you are preparing or studying for USMLE Step 2, make sure you check out all of the study series on a preferred virtual platform to help you feel prepared for your exams and reduce any anxiety you might be having.