Saturday, July 8, 2017

How to Stay "Sane" in & Survive Nursing School

Nursing school is difficult, there is no doubt about that. Once you get past all of the difficult pre-requisites and make it into the nursing program, a vast majority of your time is spent learning how to take care of others. Taking care of others is obviously a huge responsibility...and to do it for a living? It can require sacrificing a lot of self.

I am approaching my final semester of nursing school (after a long five years, I'll finally be graduating in December of this year!) and I've learned some tips and tricks along the way of how to keep your sanity in the very difficult process that is nursing school so I wanted to share a few of those with you today. A lot of them may seem obvious but they are truly what has helped me survive so far and can help you, too.

  • Time management. This is a huge one. As a nursing student, you are balancing clinical and class time with completing assignments, papers, projects. Personally, I have gone to school full-time for the last five years but I have also worked part-time the entire time as well. So between doing everything I have to do for school with working, spending time with my boyfriend, family, and friends, and taking care of myself, it is a lot to handle. To better manage my time, I:
    • Keep a planner and make to-do lists. I write down all of my deadlines/due dates and my work schedule. The planners I have been purchasing the last couple years also have built-in "to-do" lists each day which has really helped in prioritizing what needs to get done, and gosh does it feel nice to check off that box once I complete something!
    • Prioritize. This is something that we discuss in regards to nursing (for example, ABC's, Airway, Breathing, Circulation, in relation to patient care) but we also need to prioritize things in our own lives as well. You will not have much free time to work with while you're in nursing school, so prioritizing is huge. I cannot tell you how to prioritize your time since we all have different values and priorities, but taking care of yourself should be your number one priority, always. In regards to assignments, I do the assignments that are due the soonest, usually starting with the most difficult just to get it out of the way, and then go from there.
    • Ask for help when you need it. There is no shame in asking for help and delegating things to others, as appropriate, of course.
  • Build a good support system. It would be difficult, but you can get through nursing school alone...but it so much better when you surround yourself with people who are there to support you.
    • Nursing school friends. These are the people who you can study with but who will also understand what you are going through because they are going through it with you.
    • Significant others. I am lucky to have a boyfriend who has been there for me for over the past three years, before I even started in the program. Maintaining a relationship while in nursing school is definitely difficult, especially in our situation where we live about 30 minutes away from each other and have completely different schedules, but we make time for each other. He may not understand exactly what I am going through with school but is always there to lend an ear when I need to vent, to give me time/space when I need it, and to give me nice foot massages after a long day of clinical!
    • Family & friends. Again, they may not understand exactly what you are going through, but they are there to support you. Besides, having people in your life who are NOT in nursing school or the health care field is a nice balance. It can definitely take your mind off of the sometimes sad or heartbreaking things you see in clinical or at work.
  • Exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep. This is one of the more obvious ones but it is more important than many people realize. I make time to exercise (I work out at home! You can also see if your University has a gym on campus). Getting bored of doing the same old workout? Change it up - try out different classes, work out with a friend, find a new workout routine on Pinterest, or try a different gym, if possible. I also meal prep and find healthy snacks for when I have long days of school/clinical. Meal prepping has helped me significantly in staying healthy and eating cleanly. And lastly, GET ENOUGH SLEEP! I need at least seven hours at night in order to feel alert and ready to learn/work. Figure out what your body and mind need. And do not, I repeat, DO NOT pull all-nighters! Trust me, getting a good night's sleep before a big exam is more important than the few more hours of late-night studying.
  • Find healthy ways to relieve stress. No, binge drinking and fast food are not healthy ways to relieve stress 😂  Personally, I do yoga, spend time outside (weather permitting, of course!), watch Youtube videos, and hang out with people I love. This is what helps me relieve stress, on top of taking care of myself with exercising, eating well, and getting adequate sleep. What do you do to relieve stress?
  • Talk to a therapist or counselor. There is no shame at all in talking with a professional. I, personally, sought therapy before I started in the program when I was going through relationship and stress issues and it helped me to find myself, set goals, and have more realistic and rational thought processes. Seeing her for an hour once per week or every two weeks really helped me to cope and manage my stress. I anticipate seeing my therapist again towards the end of this year because I know it will be a very stressful time for me.
  • Remember why you started in the first place. Reflect on why you wanted to become a nurse. The main reason I and many other people that I've talked to wanted to go into nursing was to help others. Every once in a while there is that experience I have with a patient that at the end of the day/shift I think to myself, "THIS is why I wanted to go into nursing." You will have moments like that, too. As stressful as nursing school and nursing can be, try to take a step back and remember why you started in the first place. Hopefully, this should leave you feeling more refreshed and motivated to continue and to make it through.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

1 Year Fitness Progress (Plant-Based/Vegan, BBG, & "The Pill")

February 2016 -> March 2017

Although I feel vulnerable posting these pictures of myself, I am proud of the work I have done and the progress that I've made choosing to live a healthier lifestyle. I will be talking about this past year, the first real year of taking my "fitness journey" seriously. When I say "fitness journey," I mean eating more fruits and vegetables, taking care of myself physically and mentally, and working out regularly. By no means am I training for a sport or striving to be an Instagram model, I just want to feel good, and I believe when you feel good and you take care of yourself, that reflects on the outside.
In the picture on the left, I had just started nursing school, I had just begun Kayla Itsine's BBG program (previous blog post on that here), and I was still not making the best choices in regards to my food.
In the picture on the right, I am more than halfway through nursing school, I am about 10 months in eating a plant-based diet, and about 10 pounds heavier.
When I look at the differences between the two pictures, the first thing I notice is my stomach. My tummy has always been a source of insecurity for me. I see that it is more defined, I have that "V" now, and my "muffin tops" are a bit smaller! The next things I notice are my legs & booty! My legs look thicker and stronger, and although you can't see my tush here, it is firmer, bigger, and more lifted. My boyfriend has noticed these changes the most and it wasn't until I looked at the difference between these two photos that my body really has changed.

So, what have I been doing differently?
  1. I stopped the BBG program several months ago. It is a great program and I still do Kayla's workouts from time to time, but I was getting bored of it and I wanted to try something else. Now, I mostly walk, do kettlebell workouts and other workouts I find on Pinterest. I listen to my body and tailor my workout to that, while still trying to push myself. About 2 months ago, I also started going to yoga once a week. I. love. yoga. and it has helped so much with my balance, listening to my body, and my strength.
  2.  I eat a plant-based/vegan diet. I also listen to my body and pay attention to how I feel after I eat certain foods. Within the past couple months, I have especially noticed how my body, particularly my gut, feels after eating carbs and sugar. They tend to make me feel bloated, weighed down, and fatigued so I have been trying to cut those out as well and replace them with vegetables and fruits. I also try not to eat when I'm bored and meal-prep as much as possible. Being a full-time college student and a part-time 3rd shift worker at a hospital, meal-prepping is the key to staying on track.
  3. I went off of my birth control pill. I went off of the pill at the end of 2016. After I did this, it was like the fat, particularly on my abdomen, just peeled away without changing anything else. I went off of the pill for various reasons - but mostly I didn't want to be taking hormones anymore. I have been battling with (self-diagnosed) anxiety, depression, and moodiness for the longest time. I originally went on the pill in high school for my acne (this was before I was sexually active) and when I went on it, it was like I bloated up (I gained so much weight) and became a totally different, unhappy person. I felt like I was living in a fog. I finally decided it was time to stop taking it and it is like the fog has been lifted. No, I am not ready to have children just yet so my long-term partner and I have been using other birth control methods. I am so happy I decided to stop taking the pill, it is one of the best decisions I have made, particularly in regards to my mental health.
  4. Lastly, I am kinder to myself and my body. I focus on how I feel instead of how I look. Yes, it is awesome to see progress, but it is more important to feel better. I feel myself getting stronger, being more confident, having more mental and physical energy, and being kinder to myself when I slip up (at work, in school, with my diet, anywhere). I try to focus on the long-term as opposed to short-term and that seems to help as well. I want to age gracefully and live not only a longer life but have a better quality of life, too. Age and other uncontrollable health risk factors aside, I believe the work you put into your body is the work you get out. Treat your body right and your body will be good to you, too.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to ask any questions or share your own opinions or experiences.
Bloglovin' | Instagram/Twitter: @lauraw0lf | Pinterest | Tumblr

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Healthy eating bits & bobs

A couple of months ago I posted about two vegan recipes that I tried and really liked. I also briefly talked about my beginnings to becoming a more plant-based eater and a vegan. I resist saying that word (vegan) because of the stigmas that surround it. It's a personal choice and I will never give someone a hard time for what they decide to eat (except of course for urging my loved ones to *perhaps* eat a little healthier...I want them to be around for a while! :)

Since that post, I have very much enjoyed trying new foods and recipes. Below are a couple of my grocery 'hauls' from Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck because let's be honest, I spend way too much money on food sometimes!). I tend to spend most of my time in the produce department of Whole Foods and find some yummy fruits and veggies to eat throughout the week. Keep in mind these pictures below only include bits & bobs that I didn't already have stocked in the kitchen.

Also in this post are some recipes that i have tried (some multiple times) and have enjoyed throughout the past few weeks. I hope you enjoy this little look into my meals and find something that you might like to try yourself! :)


Mixed greens with blueberries and strawberries - I prepped these to take to work for 2 lunches, and I brought some balsamic vinaigrette as a dressing for when I was ready to eat these.

One of my new favorite things to make/eat - Thai green curry. Recipe here! I added zucchini to the recipe.

This is stuffed eggplant, I got the recipe from Kayla Itsines' BBG app on my phone (review/progress post here). Delish!

Apples with vegan butter sprinkled with cinnamon (microwaved for about 1 minute) - one of my favorite treats.
Portabella mushroom pizza - recipe here! I just made these for the first time today, they super good and definitely something i'd make again. They are super easy to make, and i like anything I can just toss all the extra veggies that are in the crisper drawer in my fridge into!

I recently bought a food processor and have put it to good use, especially for these "nice" creams. The one on top was made from 2 frozen bananas, oreos (I love that these are vegan), and peanut butter. The second one was made from 2 frozen bananas, dark cocoa powder, and peanut butter. Addicted to these!

My boyfriend surprised me with this water bottle after I had to throw out my Camelbak when going into a football stadium, and I actually love this more than my Camelbak. It is an infuser and I have tried putting lemons and also berries in here. So good!

Reviewing this post over, I am so happy looking at how colorful all of these foods and meals are. I can genuinely tell a difference in my body when I eat healthily. My tummy is happy with me! I notice I have less energy crashes throughout the day and more stable mood swings/energy levels overall. I have been so happy with how i've been eating lately and i can tell my body is too! I am always updating my Instagram with what I'm eating so feel free to follow me there @lauraw0lf :)

Bloglovin' | Instagram: @lauraw0lf | Pinterest | Tumblr

Monday, August 15, 2016

10 things I've learned in 22 years

This blog post is inspired by Jenna Marble's 29 Life Lessons I Learned in 29 Years video. I limited this list to 10 things - 10 things that came to my mind first. Of course I've learned more than 10 life lessons in 22 years, but I could probably talk forever if no one stopped me! I will probably kick myself later for neglecting to add something or stating something oddly, but I will leave this list as is. Feel free to agree or disagree with anything on this list, or comment with your own life lessons or input. I'd love to hear it.
So here's ten things I have learned so far in my 22 years of life:

Taking care of yourself is important. I think your early twenties are a really important time to break bad habits and replace them with good or better ones. I like to believe your twenties are a time to have fun, but also be responsible enough to think long-term. I quit smoking, started exercising regularly, and developed healthy eating habits.

Your parents are human too. When I was a kid, I looked up to my parents very much and thought they could do no wrong. When I started really thinking for myself, I realized how toxic some of the thinking and interactions within my immediate family are. Emotional and verbal abuse are not normal. I strongly believe family is important, but if a relationship is only toxic to you and your life, then some space or distance can be a good thing. 

You might think you know what you want, but that can (and will probably) change. When I was 18-19 years old I thought I knew everything, including how I wanted my life to go. Yes, this was only 3-4 years ago but a lot has changed in just a few years time. I am wise enough now to know that life can change in an instant and that it's important to be flexible in your plans, and I also realize I have a lot left to learn.

Others will not always have your best interest in mind. People can be selfish. Oftentimes other people will do things and make decisions that will hurt you. And I guess that's the way the world works sometimes, sometimes you have to do things that make YOU happy. It becomes a problem when you are intentionally doing things to hurt other people. At the end of the day, you have to be an advocate for yourself.

Knowledge is power. I feel like a lot of people view college/university in a bad light nowadays. It is an investment of time and money, and no one is guaranteed a job after he/she graduates. I highly value my education and what I have learned so far. I strongly believe that continually learning and growing (no matter how you do this, it doesn't have to necessarily be a formal education) is important to becoming the best human you can be.

Change is uncomfortable, but necessary. I think this can apply to a lot of things. "Change is the only constant," is a saying that I try to keep in mind whenever I am going through a major change in my life (like changing jobs, ending relationships, etc). Change can be very scary, even if you know that it is a change that will be good for you in the long run. I just try to remember that the process is temporary and that I will eventually become accustomed to whatever change is happening, that that will become the new "normal" eventually, and that I will become a stronger and better person because of it.

It's important to be able to laugh at yourself. I think a sense of humor is a very valuable tool. Life is too short and goes by too quickly to take yourself seriously. I remember reading somewhere that a person is perceived by others as more friendly if he/she is able to admit when he/she is embarrassed and laugh about it (I'm paraphrasing here!)

No one really knows what they're doing, but most people are really good at pretending. Life is a crazy, scary, and beautiful experience. I think the sooner people realize this, and realize that we are all in this together, the kinder people will act towards each other. I've realized that all you can do is do the best you can with what you have. You don't have to be rich or famous to have an impact on people, but you can have a positive influence on people in your immediate environment - your neighbors, co-workers, clients, friends...

You will encounter people who have starkly opposing beliefs and opinions from you, and that's okay. If everyone thought, believed, and did the same things, the world would be boring. Not only that, but I think balance is essential (in politics, work/life, nature, everything!). Without balance, we would be going from one extreme to another. You don't have to agree with what someone else thinks or believes, but empathy and genuine understanding of another person's lifestyle is powerful.

There is still a lot left to experience and to learn. I feel I have already learned and experienced a lot as a 22 year old, but I have a lot of life left to live and I am looking forward to continuing to learn and to grow!

Bloglovin' | Instagram: @lauraw0lf | Pinterest | Tumblr

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July snapshots

July is one of my favorite months out of the year. The weather, the sunshine, the festivals and events that take place throughout the city, the freedom... all reasons I love this month. I have to admit that I am sad to see it almost coming to an end because that means only a month separates me from classes starting up again. Don't get me wrong, I love school and learning new things, but nothing quite beats the freedom you feel on those rare summer days off.

Below are just a few snapshots from my iPhone from the many memories I've made with my boyfriend, friends, and family this past month.
It has been a very fun month which included things such as: seeing Luke Bryan in concert, walks through countryside trails, fun times with friends at downtown bars, and reminding myself that it is okay to forget about work for a night and fully enjoy my time with the people I love!

Questions of the day: What memories have you made this past month? What is your favorite time of the year?
Bloglovin' | Instagram: @lauraw0lf | Pinterest | Tumblr