|Posted by MANS Secretary on October 26, 2017 at 10:05 PM|
October is the designated month of Emotional Wellness. Mental and emotional health is paramount for nursing students as they go through the stress of classes as well as the experiences they encounter in the clinical settings. There are things that nursing students will be exposed to during clinicals that they may have never been subjected to before. Although the team at the hospital may complete a debriefing following an event, the nursing student may not be a part of that debriefing. Therefore, the nursing student may need to speak with someone regarding the event to help process what happened and the find a good way to cope with it. This may be another nurse, a clinical instructor, or even a therapist. These are strategies that can be implemented through the rest of the nursing students career as the field of nursing can be very stressful, exhausting, and draining to one’s emotional health. This is why developing good coping mechanisms and implementing them when needed will serve the nursing student well now and in the future.
Second semester nursing students at Harford Community College are required to take mental health. During this clinical rotation, they students learn about clients with mental health disorders and the WRAP plans that were developed to help these clients. If you are unfamiliar with this concept, it was developed by Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD. WRAP stands for Wellness Recovery Action Plan. According to Copeland, it is “a self-designed prevention and wellness process that anyone can use to get well, stay well, and make their life the way they want it to be”. It was developed in 1997 by people that were in the midst of dealing with their own mental and emotional health issues. In searching for a way to meet their own goals and dreams and deal with their own mental and emotional issues, they designed WRAP to accomplish the following:
1) Discover your own simple, safe Wellness Tools
2) Develop a list of things to do every day to stay as well as possible
3) Identify upsetting events, early warning signs, and signs that things have gotten much worse, using Wellness Tools, develop action plans for responding at these times
4) Guide you through the process of developing a Crisis Plan or Advance Directive
5) Introduce you to Post Crisis Planning
When looking at the Wellness Toolbox, think of a list of resources like taking 5 minutes in your car to decompress before you drive home or walk into your house. One may need to take a 20-minutes hot bath with some lavender oil to gain some down time and inner peace. Calling a friend or even meeting them face to face is a great way to connect and feel rejuvenated. Too much time on social media has been shown to have negative consequences related to neck pain, shoulder pain, anxiety, sleep deprivation, insomnia, lack of human interactions, and even suicide. Humans are social people, so take the time to connect to people face to face. Listen when they talk, maintain good eye contact, and show that you are interested in the conversation by exhibiting good body language, and stop looking at your phone while you are trying to connect with people. I know it is a hard thing to do when your brain releases dopamine every time you look at your phone. Although dopamine is not supposed to be addictive, it does play into the pleasure sensation of feeling good. Sometimes putting the phone down and actually engaging with another person has far better outcomes for a person as a whole. You are liable to feel a full range of emotions talking with another person than you would be if you were just using your phone to text or view social media sites. Hugging each other when you part is another excellent way to feel connected and good. If you like to read, then read a book that it simply for pleasure and has absolutely nothing to do with school or studying in any way. Keep a journal or even a sketch book handy for drawing. Take a trip to your local salon for a manicure or pedicure. If money is tight, get some friends together and do each other’s nails. Participate in those affirming activities. Take some time to exercise. Even a daily brisk walk has health benefits. You don’t have to do yoga or lift weights in order to experience the positive effects of exercise. This may be easier said than done, but remember to get adequate sleep. Statistics have shown how important sleep is in keeping your body in balance. If you’re not getting enough sleep, it will also affect your emotional wellness. The easiest thing you can do is do some deep breathing. Smiling is another great thing as it is infectious. If you smile at someone, they will smile back at you. You will feel better about yourself and you may not know just how much the other person needed that smile too.
Some of these tools can be used in the Daily Maintenance Plan as part of doing them every day to maintain that wellness. You may need to take a few minutes every day to decompress. Taking a bath or shower everyday may help you relax and give you a few minutes alone to complete some deep breathing either in preparation for your day or as a way to come down from the day you had. Although you do not need to exercise every day, it may be beneficial to maintaining your daily wellness. Again, it does not have to be yoga unless that is something that you feel is helpful. Learn to recognize triggers that make you feel uncomfortable. Although these are normal reactions, not dealing with them may cause you to feel worse. Learning those good coping mechanisms and using our support systems are good ways to maintain that emotional wellness. Look for those early warning signs that let you know that things are not getting better. If you are feeling worse, then action needs to be taken before things break down. If it does get to that point, make a list of signs that let you know that you are feeling much worse. Like feeling sad all the time, not wanting to take care of one’s own personal hygiene, lack of appetite, unexplained weight loss, insomnia, etc. Although most of the nursing student population will most likely not end up needing the Crisis Plan and Post-Crisis Planning part of WRAP, it is not a bad idea to reach out to people that could help reduce our stress or complete tasks to alleviate some of the stress that we are feeling. It never hurts to ask for help.
When we talk about maintaining balance and emotional wellness, it is not always an easy feat. Nursing student’s schedules are crazy and clinicals tend to be long days without a lot of down time. Maintaining an emotional balance will take some planning. Just like studying and preparing to become nurses is crucial, so is maintaining one’s own emotional wellness. Just remember that we can’t take care of others if we don’t first take care of ourselves. So, take the time to support your own emotional health.
Copeland, PhD, Mary Ellen. WRAP. 2016. October 2017. .
Karadkar, Abhishek. "The impact of social media inthe student life." Technician , 13 September 2015. October 2017.
Weinschenk, PhD, Susan. "Why we are all addicted to texts, Twitter and Google." Psychology Today (2012). October 2017.