Karen’s Corner: Don’t Stress. Don’t Struggle. Just Ask!

Karen’s Corner: Don’t Stress. Don’t Struggle. Just Ask!

Part seven of an eight part series, Karen’s Corner outlines advice and insight on going back to school from our very own Dr. Karen Whitham, assistant dean, undergraduate nursing programs.

Here’s a news flash for students of all ages: stress and struggle are not part of the learning process. In fact, stress creates a chemical cocktail of hormones and neural transmitters that inhibit the brain’s ability to learn and store memory. The only thing your brain can learn when stressed is how to strengthen the neural pathways that lead to more stress! So here are a few tips to reduce school-related stress.

Ask the question

If you are struggling to understand a concept, chances are very good you’re not alone. So just ask your question. No question is too small or too big. You’d be surprised to know how often I give this advice to our students. Just because you can’t see your teacher and classmates doesn’t mean they aren’t there. If it helps, imagine the faculty poised by their phones and computers to answer your questions. You’ll find they are extremely responsive and thorough.

Manage your time

Most school related stress comes from poor time management. Simply knowing that you have set aside the appropriate 10-15 hours a week for your classwork can dissipate the lion’s share of your stress. Be vigilant about protecting your study time by keeping a calendar and saying no to anything that will take time from your studies. How stressful is it when you spend more money than you have in your bank account? The same rules apply to how you spend your time.

Practice self-awareness

Learn to recognize the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety, then ask yourself if you are worried about something in the past that you cannot change? Or, are you anxious about something that might happen in the future? Neither one of those are a good use of your time and energy. So ask yourself what you can do in the present moment that will help you achieve your goals. Maybe you need a good night’s sleep. Maybe you need to spend some time with your calendar to map out a solution. Or, maybe you need to take 10 minutes to breathe deeply and envision your success. The only productive thing you can do with stress is to alleviate it, ask for help and manage your time!

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