Nursing school is notorious for its demanding academic load. From multiple critical exams and overwhelming medical terminologies to being responsible for other people’s lives and wellbeing, this course isn’t for the faint of heart. Moreover, studying nursing is even harder if you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
ADHD affects the use of our executive functions, which are mental skills that include flexible thinking, working memory, and self-control. As a result, students with ADHD find it hard to self-regulate, specifically in organizing things, sticking to plans, managing time, and controlling emotions. All of these affect not only their studies but also their optimal well-being.
Fortunately, there are several coping strategies that people with ADHD can rely on to manage their debilitating behaviors. This article lists ways nursing students with ADHD can thrive academically and socially in school.
Adhere to Your Medication Plans
If you’re prescribed to get specific ADHD treatments or take medications, always follow them as much as possible. Studies have shown that poor medication adherence can increase the likelihood of bad academic performance and reduced graduation rates.
Side effects of these ADHD medications and treatments are inevitable, but they’re manageable, especially if you know how to stay on top of your ADHD medications. Here are some ways:
- Regularly visit your university’s health services so you and your medications are well-monitored.
- Look for a pharmacy close to your campus and residence. When it comes to prescription refills, set phone reminders or sign up for text reminders at your chosen pharmacy so you won’t miss doing it, especially if you have a hectic schedule.
- Always keep ADHD meds in your bag, but never share them with others.
- Set the alarm or use a reminder app to remind you of your medication schedule.
Build in Breaks
Add some breaks in your study sessions, especially if you struggle to sustain mental effort for long periods. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the best break intervals, there are a lot of popular productivity techniques that improve focus that you can try, such as:
- Pomodoro Technique (i.e., break study sessions into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks)
- Flowtime (i.e., spend periods of time focused on specific tasks, but duration and frequency of study intervals and breaks aren’t scheduled)
- Time Blocking (i.e., a single-tasked, time-controlled approach where study sessions are broken down into several blocks with specific assigned tasks)
Take your time in finding the best break interval that works best for you. Make sure that it’ll result in a smooth workflow that’ll not make you feel overwhelmed, unfocused, and unproductive, but rather feel confident, in control, and prepared to take on any course of action.
Opt for Multimodal Learning
Students with ADHD will likely have boredom and working memory issues, which prevent them from effectively and efficiently learning and remembering their lessons. Rather than forcing the information into their head, try to be creative and opt for multimodal learning methods.
Multimodal learning, from the term itself, is a learning and teaching strategy that uses multiple modes, including visual, auditory, reading, writing, and kinaesthetic methods. Here are some of them:
- Use color highlighter (good for memorizing and giving attention)
- Doodle while taking notes (improves learning, engagement, and reasoning)
- Listen to voice notes (enhances understanding and helps with memorizing information)
- Stand up when reading (for better productivity)
- Work with a study buddy (helps in filling in learning gaps)
Manage Mental Health
Unhealthy lifestyle actions are bound to occur when ADHD results in uncontrolled disorganization and impulsiveness. These practices can trigger feelings of not being in control, put you in a bad mood, or worsen your stress.
On a positive note, there are good measures to offset these effects, for example:
- Follow good sleep hygiene.
- Eating a well-balanced diet.
- Practicing mindfulness.
On top of all, be sure to have sound, adequate sleep. Poor sleep quality doesn’t only worsen ADHD symptoms but also negatively impacts academic performance. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation has been associated with a lack of attention and concentration during class. In addition, lack of sleep damages the nervous system, resulting in poor brain function. Due to the cognitive decline associated with insufficient sleep, academic performance is often decreased.
Exercises aren’t only for physical fitness. Studies have shown that physical activities can stimulate brain regions associated with ADHD. What’s more, they can reduce excess energy, improve focus and attention, and combat symptoms of depression.
Anaerobic exercises (like yoga) and martial arts like (karate) offer opportunities for memorizing movements. They can mentally work out the poor memory that most people with ADHD face. In addition, team sports can also help in learning how to set and meet goals, as well as socializing with others through teamwork and cooperation.
Heading off to college is already nerve-racking for most students with ADHD. But know that you’re not alone. Several people with this neurodevelopmental condition have successfully graduated from college and are now enjoying fulfilling careers —and you can do the same. With good planning and persistence, you’re not only going to survive but thrive in college.