Life Balance Strategies for DNP Students

Learn effective life balance strategies for DNP nursing students

by Grace Buttriss

To maintain your life balance as a DNP student, it will be important to establish daily, weekly and monthly goals. Your new “multitasking life” as a student, employee and family member will be hectic and stressful and goal setting will be essential to supporting your success.

In addition to your work, family and school commitments, you will be challenged in your new clinical practice setting. This is an anxiety producing time for you as you challenge yourself with new content, patient assignments and clinical paperwork. Stress management and self-care are essential during this time as you begin your coursework and develop in your clinical practice.

Balancing provides you with the ability to continually prioritize your workload and maintain self-motivation as you work on achieving your personal and professional goals. It also provides for those unexpected times when you need to add on an assignment, workday or event.

As you begin to determine your goals during your school experiences, consider that maintaining life balance, as a student requires a combination of both external and internal goal setting. External goals will help to meet your personal and professional obligations and internal goals will allow time for self-reflection and to experience your individual personal living.

Examples of External Goals:

  • Professional: The goals you set for your professional life as a working nurse and student.
  • Social: Meeting your social needs and taking time for yourself.
  • Family: Fulfilling family responsibilities and creating healthy limitations.
  • Fun: Allowing time for activities you take enjoy without impeding your goal attainment.

Examples of Internal Goals:

  • Mind: Challenging yourself intellectually and creating opportunities for relaxation.
  • Spirit: Giving and receiving care from individuals and pets.
  • Health: Maintain balanced nutrition and engage in exercise and adequate rest.

As you begin to determine your personal balance during your educational pursuit, consider the following:

  • Acknowledge- take time to assess your current day-to-day life, state of mind, and how you’re feeling.
  • Examine- assess your current balance of internal or external focus.
  • Set Goals- prepare your list of goals to accomplish daily, weekly and monthly. Prioritize the list based on requirements, significance, and due dates to guide your goal attainment and life balance. Prepare a calendar to keep yourself accountable, place this in a prominent place and cross off goals as you achieve them!
  • Plan Your Goals- what will you need to do to achieve each goal? What have you attempted previously? Use success strategies from past goal setting and achievement to meet your current goals.
  • Reflection- what is the most significant goal you have accomplished? How did you remain focused toward achieving this goal? How did you control your fear and anxiety? Remember how it felt to accomplish the goal! Strive towards achieving your goals and keep your focus!
  • Preparation and Planning- what will keep you from working towards your goals? Determine your personal barriers and write these down. View the barriers daily and continue to be sensitive to their influence. Create new patterns for personal success that resist these barriers.
  • Empower- empower and allow yourself to move forward in goal attainment and personal achievement. You can do this!
  • Connect To Support Systems- determine an individual or approach you can use to keep supported, motivated, and focused. Connect with your past, present and future to keep yourself grounded. Find a nursing mentor to guide your success. Celebrate goal achievement to maintain your enthusiasm.
  • Connect To Your Inner Creativity- personal creativity provides time for relaxation and produces increased productivity.
  • Time Management- learn to say “No” and overcome the guilt. Examine your core values and time commitments that align with these values. Say, “Yes” to activities that support reaching your goals. Work on time-management skills and life balance will follow.

As you begin your road to becoming a DNP, use these suggestions to guide you in your discovery of the balance between professional, personal and educational responsibilities. Divide your time in a way that supports your commitments to yourself and others. Incorporating practices that reduce the stress associated with school is essential to your well being and success.

Make the changes necessary to allow for more control of your life while you enrolled in nursing school. It will be important to be present, dependable and accountable to ensure you make a positive impact in yourself and others.
To achieve physical and emotional health, assess your individual needs and priorities. The benefit of achieving balance in your life will be worth the time spent to support achieving your nursing goals.