1. Understand that you are not alone
Understanding that you’re not alone in recovery from mental illness is an important part of the healing process. One in three Canadians will suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime. This statistic shows that you’re not alone, and mental illness is as serious as any physical injury. It is also important to note that the healing processes of both mental and physical illness each have their own timeline and should not be rushed.
We should educate everyone about the seriousness of mental illness and how it affects people differently. Many people are affected by mental illness, including celebrities, pro athletes and in some cases, the nurses who provide them with assistance. Often, we feel the need to smile through the dark times rather than embrace and express our emotions. By understanding that we are not alone, we can begin the healing process.
-Amy T., Stenberg College Psychiatric Nursing Student (Dawson Creek Cohort)
2. You cannot help others if you do not help yourself first
Everyone knows that when the oxygen masks drop down during an airplane crisis, you are supposed to put your mask on before helping your kids, your spouse, or the stranger in the seat next to you. You have to help yourself before you are able to help others.
Imagine a rock on which you have built your home. The rock is the foundation and supports everything that is built on it. You can build a multimillion dollar home and use the best quality materials, but it won’t matter if you build it on an insecure foundation with cracks and weak points. You are only as strong as your foundation.
Being healthy, happy, and strong allows you to provide better support to others. We can lead by example and model effective coping strategies. By caring for ourselves, we are better prepared to care for others.
-Chelsea T., Stenberg College Psychiatric Nursing Student (Vancouver Island Cohort)
3. Talk to someone
While rewarding, Psychiatric Nursing can sometimes be emotionally exhausting. Some of our clients’ trauma and emotional turmoil can follow us home, even if we don’t realize it. As Psychiatric Nurses, talking to a friend, family member, counsellor or therapist should be as normal as eating breakfast. We have to be able to decompress and work through our feelings, especially when we are triggered.
-Janine N., Stenberg College Psychiatric Nursing Student (Dawson Creek Cohort)
4. Physical health and mental health are connected
You might be asking, how will I have the time to exercise when I’m so busy? The answer is something you may not like. You have to make the time. Plan it into your busy schedule. Staying active is essential because your body and mind are interconnected in so many ways. You don’t have to become a competitive bodybuilder, but taking ten minutes from your lunch break to go for a walk or run, or a yoga class once or twice a week can be a worthwhile investment. The options are endless. But the bottom line is, keep moving. Oh, and of course, eating healthy helps too, but I’m the first to say indulging in something delicious while studying counts as self-care.
-Kayla M., Stenberg College Psychiatric Nursing Student (Kamloops Cohort)
5. Set a routine and plan a healthy life balance
As we get older, we get busier and busier and tend to forget how important our mental health is. Maintaining a balanced life is crucial to avoid burnout and other health issues. I was quite overwhelmed with school, work and life in general when I first started the Psychiatric Nursing program. It wasn’t until the middle of my first semester that I realized the importance of implementing a self-care routine for my mental health and well-being.
One of the best things I did as a student was planning my week as soon as the classes were open. I wrote down my schedule and the due dates for assignments to be better prepared and organized. I would ensure that I completed all assignments by midnight on Friday, leaving the weekends free for self-care. This gave me a break from school on the weekends and an opportunity to do something fun. Although this schedule worked well for me, it may not be suitable for everyone. Find a routine that works best for you. Taking breaks is important to feel rejuvenated and helps make school more enjoyable.
-Shashipal S., Stenberg College Psychiatric Nursing Student (Lower Mainland Cohort)
6. Get outside of your comfort zone
Allow yourself to endure experiences that force you to go outside your comfort zone. There may be instances where the universe throws curve balls that make you want to pull your hair, scream and cry all at once. Let yourself feel those feelings, then ask yourself what you need to learn from the experience so you can become a better version of yourself. If you are struggling, Stenberg College’s Student Success Coordinator is your go-to! They will help you process your feelings and prepare for the growth that stands before you.
-Shalu B., Stenberg College Psychiatric Nursing Student (Lower Mainland Cohort)