Self care

Feeling Overwhelmed at the Start of Third Year?

Feeling Overwhelmed at the Start of Third Year? 

Don’t worry, it’s very common! The good news is there’s some simple things you can do to help yourself.  

Here’s a bit of my experience first: Five weeks ago, I started third year of my nursing degree. I was excited to get back to university and see my friends because we hadn’t been in a theory module since May. The first two years went by so fast, so I knew this would be no different. Like a lot of my friends I was nervous to start this year, it means only one year until registration. It’s also a big step up from year two, both academically and in practice.  

Before we started back I tried to get organised by writing our timetables into my diary, thinking up dissertation ideas and sorting out my online portfolio. I knew this year would be tough from speaking to previous students, but I felt like I could do it. The first week involved module launches, learning about the assessments and getting our deadlines for the year.  

For the first time I started to feel like I couldn’t do it, and if I could I certainly couldn’t do it all. Alongside this degree I have a part-time job, I’m a Brownie leader and I was training for a marathon. Writing it down this seems like a lot, but I’d done it for two years already, so I didn’t see why I was suddenly struggling now. The next couple of weeks went by, our first deadlines were coming up and I was starting to feel more under pressure, overwhelmed and isolated. Everyone else seemed to be doing so well and I just couldn’t get there.  

So, what can you do to help yourself? 

  • Talk to people. Friends, family, your personal tutor or module lead. If there’s something specific that’s stressing you out, then by addressing that you’ll feel a whole lot better. If it’s more general then by letting people know how you’re feeling they will be able to help, no-one can help if they don’t know you’re struggling. Universities often have student support services which are used to helping people in this situation. 
  • Remember you’re not alone. Lots of nurses qualify every year and many of them will have felt stressed and overwhelmed at some point during their degree. Nursing is a hard degree on its own let alone combining it with work, families and the rest of your life. By speaking to your friends, you might find they’re feeling exactly the same and you can support each other. 
  • Take some time for you. Feeling like this is a sign you need a bit of a break, don’t beat yourself up over it. Don’t be afraid to say no to people, nurses are very good at helping other people constantly and not very good at looking after themselves. If your friends and family are really there for you, they will understand that you need a bit of a break. 
  • Write a plan. It may be that you have a specific deadline you are worried about, could you focus on that work and do the rest afterwards? Writing down everything you have on will allow you to see exactly what you are doing and what you need to do and when. Wall planners are really useful for seeing everything in one place. Also remember to plan days off. 
  • Keep active. You don’t need to run a marathon, just simply getting outside for a walk has so many benefits. If walking isn’t your thing then perhaps swimming, cycling or playing badminton. Getting active with a friend can also be a good chance to talk things through. 
  • Get enough sleep. When you’re stressed or worried about things it can be hard to sleep. Try to wind down before bed and keep to a regular routine. If you are really struggling there are over the counter remedies which can help, or you can speak to your GP.  


Finally, remember that this will pass. You made it to final year and I’m sure that wasn’t easy. You will get through this and achieve whatever you want to. I’ve included some useful links below which might help. 

Information and tips on how to deal with stress:  

How to cope with stress as a student nurse:  

Student Minds, information on mental health at university: 

Written by Ellie Bullman (@EllieBullman93)

One thought on “Feeling Overwhelmed at the Start of Third Year?

  1. Just started second year and it’s so daunting! you need to push yourself and that security blanket of relying solely on nurses is being pulled away as you progress further into your training! All the best


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