How To: Keep Healthy in Nursing School

Hi all! Today, I have a “How-To Series” post for you Nursing students out there. I know Nursing is a tough, and stressful subject to study, so I wanted to support all of you with tips on how to stay healthy through Nursing School. I have my friend Emma on the Blog today. She is the most inspirational healthy student I can think of. She’s amazing! I know you will all appreciate hearing what she has to say.

Emma Poytress

= Tell me about yourself –

I’m like baby spice and sporty spice combined in one, haha. I’m a girly girl with a punk rocker past who has a love for fancy cocktails, healthy cooking, and shoes. I’m also the girl who can flip the switch and punch on a punching bag like a MMA fighter. I have a fiery red headed mother to thank for that :). I think mostly I’m passionate about helping people. I can be a people pleaser to a fault. I’m absolutely in love with the career path I’ve chosen and choosing health as a priority in my life has made all my passions come to life.

= When did you begin living a healthy life? What inspired you to change?   

Funny thing is, I wasn’t seeking out to change my lifestyle. It sort of fell upon me. Let me explain: About four years ago, I suffered from pretty bad acne and I tried everything to get rid of it. Finally, my brother had told me about a friend of his who had cleared up his skin by exercising. I had a gym membership (that I never used!) so I figured “what the heck, I’ll try it!” Well, it wasn’t the exercise that cleared up my skin, but I gradually began to see changes in my body. I discovered that I loved to exercise. Who knew that the girl who complained about running once around the soccer field before a game would grow to love exercise so much? Ha! Now, the diet, that took longer to change. Heck, I’m still working on that one.

= Did any of your relationships change once you lost weight?

Yes. You know, many people who knew me when I was heavy set looked at my weight loss as a transformation. I got a lot of positive feedback, for sure, and that felt great. But, my relationship with my Dad probably changed the most. He now saw me as his beautiful daughter, instead of his overweight one. It’s been interesting to say the least to see how people’s perceptions of you change as your appearance does.

= When did you begin Nursing School?

January 2013. Class of ’14 🙂

= What was the biggest change in your life as you started?

Two weeks prior to starting the program, I had ended my four year relationship. It was freeing but also scary.

= Have you found yourself being more organized since starting?

Yes and no. In the beginning, everyday I had a new strategy for how best to stay organized. I remember during our orientation, previous nursing students came in to give us suggestions on how they found best to stay organized. I probably tried all of them. Every night I gathered what books/papers I needed, my lunch, clothes, down to my socks and underwear in order to keep my morning rush free! That really helped. Also, making to-do lists really helped. Staying organized is a daily battle for nursing students. The piles of books and scattered papers in my trunk didn’t look very organized, but in my mind it worked! Now, prioritizing… that’s a skill that I’ve mastered.

= Are you working through school?

Yes, but only one serving shift per week. I occasionally picked up shifts where I could. They say you absolutely can’t work through nursing school. It’s not true.

= How do you maintain balance in your life? (Career, Spirituality, Social Life, Physical Activity, Home-cooking, Joy, etc.)

Ah, balance. It’s so essential. I tried extremely hard to be conscious of its importance. Personally, quite time was most important. On hard days, I would set aside 20 minutes and take a bubble bath. Before exams, I listened to classical piano to calm my senses. Working actually became an enjoyment. To be there one day a week was such a relief. It allowed me to escape for a few hours and concentrate my work on something other than nursing. On Sunday nights, it became a tradition that I cook dinner for my Grandma and I. We would sit down with a glass of wine and just talk about the upcoming week. During the week, I was constantly on the go (campus, clinical, study groups, gym, ect.) that we barely saw each other. When I was home, I was often locked up in my room studying. Making time once a week to sit down and chat helped us to maintain a close relationship.

= Do you make time for yourself?

Maybe too much, at times. I can be a recluse, especially in times of stress. Though I’ve been learning that surrounding yourself with people has such a positive effect. I’ve been trying to be conscious of that. Nevertheless, I’ll always cherish my alone time.

= Do you still make time for fun?

I hate to tell people this, but during the semester, I probably went out at least once every weekend. Now, hardly was it ever an up all night, sleep all day type of night. It mostly consisted of catching happy hour or dinner with friends. It seriously helped. As much as you grow to love your nursing buds, you need to escape the nursing mumbo jumbo, and find some normalcy with other friends.

= How often do you workout?

6-7 days a week.

= Did you pick up any habits to avoid studying?

This is where many people snack, deep clean, or jump online. Oh, the internet to be sure. Having to do care plans on the computer is both a blessing and curse. So many times I would zone off and jump onto or Perez Hilton (my guilty pressure) he he.

= What healthy snacks do you take to school?

Apples, Bananas, pre-packaged almonds, yogurt, protein bars (ThinkThin- my fave!), Celery+Almond Butter, Carrots+Hummus, Dates, Hard Boiled Eggs, etc.

= Do you eat breakfast?

Always. I’m so obsessed with breakfast, I start planning what I’m going to eat the night before.

= Plan meals?

I’m always mentally planning meals. I’m thinking about the next thing I’m going to have to eat hours before I plan on eating next. That way, when I’m hungry, I don’t just reach for the nearest calorie ridden snack.

= Count Calories?

Never. I found it too difficult and frankly, quite exhausting.

= What do you believe is the biggest factor in weight loss?


= How about keeping it off?


= Encouragement for people in Nursing School trying to stay Healthy?

Nursing school is stressful, no doubt. But, one important thing we learn as nursing students, is we set the example for our patients. In order to teach and promote health, we ourselves have to be knowledgeable and conscious of our own health. After a long day at clinical, exercise can seem like the impossible, but I’m telling you, it’s freeing. Whether you belong to a gym or not, getting out to power walk for 30 minutes, feels so good! Though, who am I kidding? We all know that you never regret working out. Your body craves healthy nutrition and exercise. I know the feeling of being mentally and psychically drained, but when you give the body what it craves, your mental and psychical abiliy heighten. Change comes gradually. For me, it’s been over a four year long journey, but it has been so worth it.

= And just so you can see proof of her dedication –


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