On Relaxation, Nursing School, and Fire Alarms

Note: To offer more insight into the lives of nursing students, we are sending Steven, a writer for the College of Nursing, to the weekly Nursing Stress Management Course. Steven is a Middle East Studies/Arabic major.

My foray into the world of nursing relaxation started simply enough. Eight nursing students and I were gathered on the fourth floor of the SWKT with assistant teaching professor Dr. Leslie Miles talking about stress in the life of an average nursing student.

Artist Jennifer Yane once said, “I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.” From what I have seen of BYU nursing students, that seems to be a common sentiment, with students practically dripping anxiety during pass-offs. The list of stressors mentioned included tests, fear of failure, clinicals, and family concerns.

Miles began explaining how this course would offer some respite from some of these common concerns. This course, she explained, would offer various ways for students to relax.

That’s when the building fire alarm went off.

As it wailed (a sound extremely conducive to elevated blood pressure levels), we filed out of the building, where Miles immediately resumed teaching the course on a bench. The cause of nursing relaxation will press on!

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Dr. Miles teaches students about how to relax while the SWKT fire alarm goes off behind her.

In fact, the whole experience served to illustrate various points that Miles made. Life may be eventful, she said, but “you have a lot of control of how stressful it is going to be.”

This was a dominant theme during this class, which in and of itself had a laid-back and welcoming feel. We talked about how critical it is to meet life with a positive outlook and find a balance. This mental game is a necessary first step to not only facing challenges better but also helping your mind adapt to demanding situations.

Often, Miles mentioned, it is important that for nursing students not to be a perfectionist in their work. She also said that sometimes students have a hard time saying “no” when too many demands on their time are being made.

Students received a packet that contained different stress reduction tools, ranging from breathing exercises to time-management tips. Each also had to fill out different forms to evaluate their level of tension and take their pulse (I was kindly given a refresher in this skill). With luck, resting heartbeats will be lower by the end of the seven weeks.

Each week, students are expected to make goals to improve their stress levels. One of this week’s is to limit time on cellular devices and Facebook (various phones on students’ desks disappeared suddenly into backpacks).

One girl in the class has taken it two times before this semester. After seeing the list of planned activities, including finger painting and aromatherapy, I do not blame her. I’m definitely going to make sure that my schedule is clear for hand massage day.

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