How to Look After Yourself as a Healthcare Student

Updated on July 7, 2021

There are plenty of excellent healthcare courses and degrees to choose from when you decide to begin your studies. While healthcare courses are an essential part of the path to a medical career, though, they can also be stressful. It makes sense, considering how much hard work being a healthcare professional is. 

To ensure you get through your degree as a healthcare student, you must find ways to take care of your body and mind. Otherwise, your excessive study sessions and crammed days could lead to burnout. So, before you throw a textbook across the room or consider packing in your degree altogether, here is how to look after yourself as a healthcare student. 

Choose a Course You Are Passionate About 

The first step is the simplest, though it is often thought of as the hardest. After all, choosing a course you are genuinely passionate about could take some time and you might get halfway through the first term before realizing it is simply not for you. 

It is important to road map your career before you decide on your particular degree. If you want to be a counselor, for example, a human services degree would be perfect to get you onto a master’s course. Plus, you would learn all about research methods, communication, and human behavior – all things that would help you excel as a healthcare professional.

By knowing the exact direction that you want to go in, you will have an easier time choosing a course which, in turn, will reduce the chances of stress.  

Understand the Expectations 

It is normal for students to feel overwhelmed from time to time, but if you feel like you are caving more often than not, then it is time to figure out what your university’s expectations of you are. Do they expect you to be putting in all the work you are doing? If you are doing an online human services degree, how often are you expected to check in with online tutors?

By understanding your healthcare courses’ expectations, you have an easier time managing your workload. It is always a good idea to talk to your professor or mentor if you are unsure about what is expected of you. 

Plan Fun Activities 

Being part of a healthcare course does not mean you cannot have fun. In fact, it is more crucial now that you fit in the time for fun activities so that you can get a break from your workload. So, the next time you speak to your friends or family, plan a trip to the beach, a cinema date, or a zoo visit. 

Not only will planning fun activities provide you with a good time on the day, but it will also give you something to look forward to, which you need when swamped with textbooks. 

Know the Signs of Stress to Look Out For 

To properly look after yourself, it is important to understand problems to watch out for, especially when it comes to stress. These include – 

  • Irritability 
  • Avoiding Your Friends/Family 
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Digestive Issues
  • Frequent Crying

By knowing the signs, you will have a better time managing your stresses before it is too late.

Wash Your Hands

As a healthcare student, you will likely find yourself in a clinical setting where you must do work experience around patients. This is often a key part of your education, but there are a couple of points you must remember, including washing your hands. By washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, you reduce the chances of taking any illnesses home with you. After all, the last thing you want is a nasty bug when you have to study for upcoming exams! 

Make Plenty of Friends 

Some healthcare students assume that keeping to themselves is the best way to get through the course without a break in concentration. In reality, this will only make your experience harder. With friends around you, not only will you get extra help if you need it, but you will also have people to have fun with and rant to at the end of a particularly difficult day. Sometimes, that is all you need to reduce the stresses of class! 

If you are doing an online course like a human services degree, you still have the opportunity to make friends on your course. By exchanging numbers, creating a class group chat, and doing video call study groups, you can easily connect with your like-minded course mates. 

Take Frequent Study Breaks 

In between memorizing all the bones in the human body and researching psychological disorders, you must make time for a break. It might be tempting to cram in seven hours straight of study on the week up to your assignment deadline, but this will do you more harm than good. Instead, set a timer and make sure to take a well-earned break once the alarm goes off. In this time, do something that will give both your body and mind a breather like taking a step outside for a walk. 

Keep Up with Your Old Life 

Just because you are enveloped in your healthcare degree does not mean you should not keep up with your old life. After all, your friends and family will want to know how well you are doing in your studies. Plus, those people will provide much-needed relief when you want to discuss anything other than your human services degree. 

If you are studying away from home, there are plenty of ways to keep up with your old life online, such as messaging, video calls, and group chats. There is no excuse! 

Budget Your Money 

Many healthcare students have money worries. While you might not be spending your cash on lots of holidays and late nights, you will need to ensure you can feed yourself properly and have enough left over for school supplies. To make this easier on yourself, start budgeting. Not only will this help you manage your money during your degree, but it will also ensure you will have excellent budgeting skills when you start your healthcare career. 

Talk to Someone if You Need Help

No matter how well you try and look after yourself, you might find you hit a wall. This might come from study stress, mental health issues, or feeling lonely. If this happens, you must reach out for help. There are plenty of options available – you could see if your university provides counseling, schedule an appointment with your doctor, or even reach out to your professor for some guidance. Whoever you reach out to, it is better to be open rather than keep it inside. 

Ensure Your Home is Comfortable 

Keeping a positive environment is a big part of looking after yourself. Think about it – wouldn’t you prefer to study in a clean and bright atmosphere rather than a cold, dank one? By ensuring your home is as comfortable as possible, your study sessions will go much smoother. Not only that, but you will feel more positive about yourself, too. After a long and hard day attending online classes for your human services degree, it is better to come home and relax in a place where you feel cozy and safe. 

Ask Your Mentor for Advice 

As a healthcare student, you will likely be assigned a mentor during your field placement. During this time, ask them for any advice you may need. After all, that is what they are there for! If you need help maintaining a work-life balance, they may have some essential advice that will help keep your head above water even during the busiest weeks. 

Do not Run Away from Your Problems

No matter how difficult the material is or how swamped you are feeling, you must not run away from your problems. If you are having trouble with keeping up with the work, reach out to your professor and ask for some guidance. There are always help solutions, but if you avoid your problems, they will only build. 

Consider Going Part-Time 

Whether you are doing a nursing degree or a human services degree, there are often options for going part-time. This is perfect for students who have other obligations, as it ensures they have time to do their studies without pushing themselves too far. So, if you are a parent, working full time, or caring for a family member, consider going part-time for more free time. After all, it is difficult to look after yourself when your schedule is filled to the brim. 

Give Yourself Alone Time 

While you might want to fill every free moment with social gatherings and catching up with friends from home, it is important to give yourself some time alone. That way, you can gather your thoughts and release your stresses without interjections from other people. 

If you are doing a course like an online human services degree, it is important to remember spending time studying at home is not equal to quality alone time

Talk to Healthcare Professionals

Your fellow healthcare students will be a great help when you need advice, but many of them will not know what it is really like to work in healthcare full-time. For this kind of advice, it is a good idea to talk to healthcare professionals during your placement or when you are volunteering. 

As a human services degree student, for example, you might consider talking to counselors or social workers for a better idea of what it is like to work with patients. Not only will this help you push your studies forward, but it will also provide you with advice for taking care of yourself during the busier years. 

Make the Most of Your Time Off 

Your time off is precious, so make the most of it! Listen to your body to decide what you should do – if you have been feeling exhausted during the entire semester, consider spending your week off resting up and giving your body a chance to relax. Do not worry, that does not mean you cannot see your friends, just try to make more relaxing plans, like spa days and dinner plans. 

Eat a Healthy Diet 

If your body is not properly fueled, you will not be able to study well and eventually it will reach the point where you fall sick. To prevent this, you must ensure you eat a healthy diet. After all, as a healthcare worker, you must be able to look after your body! Here are some tips for doing it as a student:

  • Batch Cook Healthy Meals
  • Incorporate More Vegetables into Evening Meals
  • Snack on Fruits
  • Limit Sugar Intake 
  • Cut Down on Saturated Fat

Do not Shut People Out 

If you have three days to cram in as much study time as possible, it is understandable not to speak to any of your friends for a little while. If you have not replied to an old friend in three weeks, however, it might be time to reassess your priorities. While it is understandable not to meet up often while studying for a healthcare degree, it is also important not to shut anyone out, as you never know when it might become a habit. Plus, during the hard times, you need your friends to help pick you back up. 

Stick to a Schedule 

If you are finding time management a struggle, start planning a schedule and stick to it. Remember to include study sessions, classes, field placements, and time for socializing. 

If you are doing an online human services degree, schedule your week around your online work. Take into account when you work better, too – if you seem to concentrate more in the early mornings, make sure your study sessions take place then. 

Combine Exercise and Hobbies 

Finding time for exercise can be hard as a healthcare student, but it is important to fit it in! To do this, consider combining a hobby with exercise. That way, you will get the benefit of both exercise and a fun break from your studies. Some physical hobbies include tennis, swimming, and hiking. 

Put Everything into Perspective

Looking after yourself as a healthcare student is not easy, especially when your brain is solely focused on the work in front of you. In times like this, it is important to take a step back in order to remember where you are heading, why you are doing the degree, and what your dreams are. Whether you are doing a human services degree or you are on your way to becoming a surgeon, it always helps to take a breather and put things into perspective from time to time.

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