CRNA 134 | Mental Wellness


Entering into the world of the CRNA school isn’t all sunshine and butterflies because there will definitely be some storms along the way. There will be moments where you find yourself getting hit with different challenges. But you don’t have to fear anything because today’s guest hosts, Cordero and Monica, Nurse Anesthesia Residents, will share their secret to balancing mental wellness to help you in your CRNA journey. While Monica suggests finding your hobby, Cordero mentions that meditating is one of the avenues that you should try because it will help you notice your emotions. Finding an outlet that works for you will smooth some rough edges in your journey. So take a moment to listen to Monica and Cordero’s conversation, and you will learn to rise above the tides of challenges in your CRNA journey.

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Balancing Mental Wellness In CRNA School With Guest Hosts Cordero And Monica

Welcome back to A Couple Nurses. It’s your girl, Monica.

It’s Cordero.

We wanted to do an episode, which is super important on mental health, CRNA school, and the struggles.

Shout out to Jenny over at CRNA School Prep Academy for giving us this show option and allowing us to talk about this topic with you.

What are some outlets that you would recommend to people when they’re dealing with that stress or other mental health that they may have and how to balance it with school? For those of you who haven’t started, CRNA school is 100% doable. You can do it but it’s 100% hard. It takes a huge toll on you. That’s for sure. You need to make sure that you’re 100% ready for this rollercoaster of emotions on top of managing your outside life, family relationships, and things that matter. What are some things that you typically do to help you Zen out?

First off, hindsight is always 20/20. If you are starting CRNA school, understand that this is stressful. You see a lot of creators and stuff talking about how stressed they are and managing stress. It’s hard to understand that until you’re in it.

You’re like, “They’re being dramatic.”

It’s a full-time job. You don’t get paid for it, and you’re paying for this. It’s crazy. One of the biggest things that helps me is working out. It’s huge. To dedicate that time toward taking care of myself and my body, I’ve noticed that in the weeks and the days that I don’t work out as much, I’m a lot more tense and a lot more stressed inside. I would try to find a workout regimen and also understand that what somebody else does may not work for you. Some people work out. If working out makes you more stressed, that may not be a good option for you.

It’s a balance for me. It’s the lack of consistency with my workouts because sometimes, I’m working out and being in the gym longer than 45 minutes. I’m like, “I have to get back home. I have to study.” It’s not like it takes me an hour to get to the gym. It would take me fifteen minutes to get to the gym. You get traffic in a little five minutes. You are at the gym. You have to warm up first. You can’t go out and raw-dog it. You drive home, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to hit some traffic, at least in the part we’re living in. You have to shower because you’re not going to study all stinky.

I’m not making excuses. This is what my brain goes through. I shower, and I’m like, “I’m hungry. I burned all these calories. I have to feed the cells.” A total of two and a half hours has gone by. I kid you not. Every time I’ve gone to the gym, and it was a midday gym workout when Cordero and I were living together, I would get home, and I was like, “I’m done. I’m not studying.”

With the way that I study, I need to be sitting down in one spot unbothered for a solid 6, 8, or 12 hours. It was cutting into my routine. I tried incorporating more late-night workouts, and that did help a lot for me but then I would be super geeked at night. I found a new thing. It’s a sauna yoga place. I go at night even after clinical, and it helps destress me. Find something that works for you.


Finding What Works For You

I also find that complaining with other SRNAs feels good, and talking to your classmates, “This sucks. What do they expect from us?” It’s complaining and not having anybody tell you, “It’s going to be okay.”

It’s so healthy. If you’re not a complainer, wait until you get to CRNA school. You’re going to be bitching about the smallest inconvenience, and it’s fine because after you complain about it with your classmate, you feel better.

Everybody is on the same page.

You feel better. You’re not crazy. You’re not the only one feeling like this. You feel a little bit better. You get to a point where if somebody is constantly complaining, it’s like, “No.”

It is a healthy balance.

Even in social media finding something that you relate to helps. If you follow me on Instagram, it’s the memes. That’s my therapy. I’ll find memes. It’s funny to me. That’s how I destress.

Netflix is always good.

I’m watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy. I will start over season one, and that helps me out. I’m not being funny.

Find a comfort show that you can watch. It’s Regular Show for me. I’ll watch that all day.

I wouldn’t even call it Friday night pizza and wine. Usually, for me, it was Fridays. It was a ritual. I kid you not. I didn’t miss one Friday not drinking wine. If I did, I get weird about it, and I would have to do it on Saturday. It was my time to watch uninterrupted two hours of Netflix. I was chilling and drinking my wine. Maybe I’ll drink the whole bottle. I’m not sure. I had my pizza with me as well. It was my time to relax, not be bothered, and chill. It was my routine to do. Find something like that or find a place to eat. Go out to eat and drink with friends. You have to find something where there’s a certain amount of time and hours that are spent throughout the week or day that you’re not looking at a book or a computer screen.

Some people play video games. I have a couple of classmates that play games. That works for them. There are some unhealthy ways to manage your stress. This is serious. Substance abuse is a real problem in SRNAs and CRNAs because everything we do is so stressful. To your point, substance use disorder includes over-drinking and alcoholism. There are a lot of people out there who do rely on that, not to say that it’s good or bad but it’s unhealthy. It’s a fact. If you are a drinker, be conscious of how much you drink and try not to let it consume you. Every time you get stressed, don’t go drinking. I don’t want to be that guy but I have to say it.

A nursing student who is studying looking stressed.
Mental Wellness: Many people rely on over-drinking and alcoholism. Although it’s not good or bad, it’s unhealthy.


It’s funny because I was like, “Go out, eat with your friends, and drink.” Here comes Deepak Dero being like, “Don’t drink.” All jokes aside though, there’s a balance with it. I was talking to one of my mentors, and she even said, “Drinking wine is good or whatever your poison is but be careful.” She found herself during a time drinking too much throughout the week. It’s a balance. Alcohol is poison. Let’s not lie about that. One of my other mentors said that when you start clinical because it’s so new, and it can be so stressful, a lot of other CRNAs when they were in school admitted that was the time when they were drinking almost every day. You need to find a balance and take care of your mind and body first before poisoning it.

Take care of your mind and body. Click To Tweet

I also write probably 2 or 3 times a week. I’ll journal. It helps get my thoughts out. I’m in my head a lot of the day. I feel misunderstood a lot of the time. It gives me my place to dump and not be judged by anybody or anything like that.

You’ve been journaling for quite a few years ever since I met you. I remember you had old stacks of notebooks where you would collectively write your thoughts. I can see how that helps. For me, it’s talking about it. I sometimes think quicker than I can write. I’ve tried journaling, and then by the end of it, I can’t even read my handwriting and then get impatient.

It took a while for Cordero. We have been together for quite some time but when we were first dating, he couldn’t understand why I would consistently talk about a certain topic but that was my way to destress and ease my anxiety. I didn’t necessarily need any advice but it was nice to have somebody in your corner supporting whatever you were saying. If you’re 100% wrong, they’re going to correct you but sometimes you need an ear to vent.

Find a friend, somebody that you trust, a loved one, or a family member who is going to listen to your concerns and not give you that generic response, “It’s all going to be worth it.” I’m like, “I don’t want that. I know it’s going to be worth it but please listen to me.” People who aren’t in a program like this are not going to understand to the core what it is that we are experiencing. Sometimes finding that person that’s in a program with you, and you make friends with them helps a lot. For me, it’s my husband because he’s in a CRNA program, and he knows my personality.

Another thing that I love to do is get my nails and feet done. It was feeling nice and polished. Looking at my nails and seeing that they were all glammed up made me happy. Depending on how your finances are when you’re in school, you’re relying a lot on loans, and other people may be relying on their savings but this is something that made me happy. This isn’t something bad for me. You want to get all research-y. I did get shellac and stuff like that. It’s probably not the best. This is something that made me happy. I enjoyed doing that for myself. Here and there, I would sprinkle in a massage every so often. It felt so nice to do something for yourself that was unrelated to school.

It takes over your life. I don’t even try to think about school sometimes, and I’m thinking about it. In bed, I was talking about the oxygen delivery formula or something like that first thing in the morning. I can’t help it. It’s what I’m thinking about.

It makes matters worse on that topic because we’re both in school. Ninety-five percent of our conversations are related to being an SRNA, CRNA content, anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology. You don’t realize it until you’re out in public with normal people who aren’t in a program.

They’re like, “I wish they would stop talking about these.”

Sometimes I don’t even know what to talk about with other friends, and it sucks because you’re over-consumed for three years of your life in school. It’s difficult. I went out and got invited to a city that’s nearby where I go to school. I had some friends that were there, and they were like, “Turn up for the night.” I was like, “I can’t. I have a test next week.” They talked me into it. I took a one-hour drive. I waited there, and I had such a good time but also, at times, I felt a little bit out of touch because I was like, “I haven’t been around people that haven’t been in school for so long in person.”

I did feel like a little awkward turtle. I was like, “Let me have a drink, relax, calm down, and enjoy my time.” We’re so over-consumed with being in front of a computer, reading notes, or learning about something new. Take those opportunities when you have a break or even a free weekend, and you do have friends who are coming over. Plan something because that was probably one of the most fun weekends that I’ve had in a while since starting school. It was so nice at the end of it all to be invited by your friends, have fun, and let loose.


Having A Hobby Can Help

Something that a lot of people struggle with too is since we are so consumed with school, being an SRNA becomes your personality. Try to separate yourself from being a student. At the same time, have the things that you like and that you dislike. What are your hobbies? What are things that you want to do whenever you finish school? Try to separate the two. It can be difficult because we spend so much time but that’s an important thing that people need to be thinking about too. You’re more than a student. You’re more than a CRNA or SRNA provider.

After you graduate, you’re more than a nurse but that is a hard task to do. That’s something that I struggle with. He asked me what my hobbies are. I was like, “Studying and watching Netflix. I don’t know.” I’m making a goal to start working on that if I have time honestly to try and find something for myself. One of my biggest goals when I graduate is to find a hobby. I don’t care if it’s even planting, gardening, or doing something for myself.

You’re going to be a travel planner.

I’m going to be your travel planner. That’s for sure. That question took a toll on me. I was like, “I don’t have any hobbies.” I’m a student. It’s such a hard thing to do. I encourage every one of you to find a hobby while you’re in school even if that means playing video games. Writing is a hobby that you like to do. It’s non-school related. Find a hobby. That’s important for your mental health.

I do meditate too. A lot of people crap on meditating because it’s a difficult thing to start to learn how to do and to let your mind not focus on anything. It’s being able to sit alone quietly with your thoughts. We’re so stimulated all day. Whenever you ask people, “When was the last time you sat down and didn’t do anything at all?” it’s very hard for people to remember that. Be able to sit somewhere quiet, observe your thoughts, and be like, “What am I thinking about?”

I’ll be sitting down and meditating. Sometimes I’m thinking about school stuff but then I can catch myself, “I’m not supposed to be thinking about anything. I’m supposed to be chilling.” Give yourself that grace, and then you’re chilling. A thought comes in about a vacation that we had a couple of years ago, “I’m supposed to be chilling. I’m supposed to be chilling.” Being able to have that ability to notice your emotions and notice when things are popping up is a strength. It puts you at ease. Everything is different for everybody but this is something that works for me.

Give yourself the grace to chill. Click To Tweet

Something to consider that we haven’t mentioned is if you need to talk to somebody professional, do it. This is something hard. It’s 1,000% doable but things will get tough. You will be challenged. Your personality, your ego, and your relationships will be challenged. Financially, you will be challenged. You’re going to be challenged overall. A lot of people aren’t used to that. It’s hitting you at 1,000 miles an hour, and you’re still expected to perform. There’s no negative stigma on going to see a provider and seeking help.

I remember you talking about that. There are so many classmates of yours who are on Lexapro. They’re happy little butterflies, and that’s great for them. That’s what they needed. You’re going to find dark times when you’re lonely and depressed, there’s a lot on your plate, and you feel like you can’t do it. We can all say that we have experienced that more times than not as CRNA students. If you need help picking yourself back up, know that’s okay. Do it. Remember, this is an investment for your future. We don’t have time to play games. If you find yourself feeling dark that early on, you need to seek some help.

When it comes to this mental health path and journey, if you’re studying hard every day, you’re going to have days when you’re tired. I’ve had a couple of those this past semester. It will be midweek, and it will be 1:00 PM. I’m like, “I am tired.” Understand that if you’re that tired, whatever you’re studying and whatever you’re trying to study and retain isn’t going to stick. I’ve taken those days to sit down for 4 or 5 hours and do nothing. If you’re studying enough and applying yourself the way you’re supposed to, you can give yourself a couple of hours to chill and let your brain relax. I’m not sure how many people do that but it helps me. You feel burnt.

A nurse anesthesia resident taking notes while studying at a laptop
Mental Wellness: If you’re studying enough and applying yourself the way you’re supposed to, you can give yourself a couple of hours to chill and let your brain relax.


You are burnt out. After two hard semesters, I had another semester right after that, which was a regional course on steroids for four weeks. There was a test every week. I was done and checked out. I still did well but what helped me around that time, and I even did this in the past from my bigger semesters, is what Cordero was saying. You’re going to feel burnt out. You’re like, “The studying that I’m doing is not sticking at all.” You get frustrated, and then you’re like, “Why is this not working?”

You’re in front of the computer, and then you put your head down.

You get on your phone and then waste an hour on Instagram or whatever the case may be. I started giving myself a day off. If you’re studying efficiently enough and utilizing your time, and if you’re going to study for 6, 8, or 12 hours, study. You will be amazed about how much you’re able to retain for that long. It’s crazy. Your mind is incredible if you push yourself past those limitations. Studying efficiently is key because then you can reward yourself with an unplanned day off.


Taking Time Off

These are unplanned days. Most of the days, you’re going to have to push through it. I’m not saying that every time, you’re like, “I’m not going to study.” Most of the days, you’re finding yourself that you’re pushing through this but there are going to be those days when mentally, you are checked out. That’s whenever you put your things away and tell yourself that this is okay to do. That means reaching out to a classmate and being like, “I feel so guilty that I’m not studying.” If that person knows how you are, they’re going to be like, “You deserve it. You’ve been busting your ass.”

You speak to your spouse, and they say the same thing. Have that validation. It’s this mental reverse psychology game you play with yourself. Take the day off, kick your feet up, do something for yourself, sit down, do nothing, explore, eat out with your family, go outside, and do something besides looking at a computer. Take those days off. Cordero makes such an excellent point with that. These are unplanned days off. It’s okay.

I remember toward the end of this quarter when I was hanging onto my last little thread of life. I was crawling to the finish line of this quarter. I was texting you or calling you a couple of days before we had our test. I was like, “I’m tired. I’m so ready for this quarter to be over.” You were like, “Take a break and then get back to studying.” I didn’t want to hear that. I wanted to hear, “You’ve been doing good. Relax. You’re fine.” It was like, “You have one more test. Push through.” You need people in your corner that’s going to keep it real with you, not people that are going to tell you things that you want to hear. I wanted you to tell me, “You’re fine. You’re going to do good on your test. Relax.”

It was two days before test day. That’s game time. Don’t take days off before game time. You have to be a little bit intelligent in the decisions that you’re making. Having somebody in your corner is very important. Overall, seeking help whenever you need help, finding an outlet that works well for you, being okay with not being okay, and talking with your colleagues and your classmates help. Having somebody in your corner makes everything so much better. Find that person for yourself.

That’s a good summary.

Don’t take taking care of yourself for granted, honestly.

That’s what’s going to get you through the program. You don’t want to finish up school broken. You’re going to finish school as a stronger person but you don’t want to lose yourself in the process. You have to take care of your mental health and body. Even if you make goals for yourself after school, “I’m going to get fit. I’m going to get back to taking care of myself,” you can have a goal with that. That will help too because it’s rough.

Something that will help with easing the anxiety and the mental anguish of school in general is this. He’s a planner. He writes everything down. That’s what helps and eases his anxiety. For me, it’s utilizing my Apple Calendar and Google Calendar and setting everything out so I have it in front of me, and I know when things are due. It sets timelines for myself. Planning out your weeks and days is going to assist you in utilizing your time more efficiently as well. That will help ease some of that anxiety.

You have to plan it. I hope you extracted some gems from this.

Thanks for tuning in. I hope this helps. This is a serious matter. Take everything in this episode, try to make a difference if you find yourself in that dark place, and know CRNA school is 1,000% doable. You have to take care of yourself at the end of the day.

We know mental health isn’t one of those things a lot of people like to talk about but it is very important. Everybody’s situation is unique. Find out what works for you. Take care of yourself out there. We will talk to you next time. Peace.


For more on Mental Wellness in CRNA school, click here


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