On I Love Lucy, Sleep, and Well-being

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.

“Do you have to do the assignment?”

Assistant teaching professor Dr. Leslie Miles’ question hit us like a ton of bricks covered in bowling balls flung by a catapult. Not do an assignment on time? What was this heresy?

This was Nursing Stress Management, round two.

I was definitely in need of some de-stressing after a week of essays and tests. Based on the looks on the faces of the other students, I was not the only one.

We started by pairing off and talking about what we had done that week to relieve our anxiety, and then we practiced taking our pulse. That’s when we dove into the world of relaxation techniques.

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Students discuss their week and how they handled the stress of being a nursing student.

Miles showed a clip from “I Love Lucy” (I realize that some in the audience may not be familiar with this classic program, in which case I recommend Googling it, along with Dwight Eisenhower and the first color televisions). In it, Lucy struggles to keep up with a conveyer belt continuously carrying chocolate for her to wrap.

The students laughed, no doubt finding comparison between Lucy’s frantic maneuvering and their own balancing act (the most recent nursing conference was called “Struggle to Juggle”). That was exactly the point Miles was getting at, and she transitioned into a discussion on how to prioritize tasks at hand.

We used a mental exercise to imagine sifting through our various tasks and choosing which were most important. Following that, we used jumbo crayons (a very nice touch) to recreate a normal day schedule. As we did so, people commented on how difficult it was to schedule even basic tasks like sleeping a minimum of eight hours.

“Why won’t eight [hours] happen?” she inquired. We all wondered why, mentioning the various assignments that we had to accomplish.

That’s about the point that Miles dropped the bombshell question mentioned at the start of this story. Cognitive dissonance abounded as we struggled to wrap our heads around the idea of putting our emotional and physical well-being above homework.

“It’s more about you than the assignment,” she said. In her mind as a professor, she said, a student emailing her to say that they would turn in an assignment late instead of rushing it was worthy of praise.

What she said made sense. If we let our bodies and minds deteriorate below a load of impending social, physical, and academic demands, it defeats the point of living. We are meant to progress, and in order to do that we must learn how to prioritize and accomplish tasks in a way that leaves us sane at the end.

To conclude the class, Miles told us to get comfortable and close our eyes as she played incredibly relaxing sounds and music. Life could not get much better than this, I thought, slouched over in my chair. Then I remembered that finger painting week is coming up. Best work assignment ever.

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