The importance of managing your stress, especially when preparing for the NCLEX.

I never actually witnessed first hand the physical consequences of stress until I started studying for the NCLEX.

During the first week, I woke up in the middle of the night with cold sweats and flu like symptoms. To my amazement, I didn’t have a fever and it was gone by the morning. This was just 2.5 weeks away from my exam date and I was studying 4-6 hours a day, doing upwards of 150 practice questions a day, and starting to really feel the stress building up. I had already accepted a position before I graduated, so the amount of pressure I had to pass was weighing on my shoulders heavily.


Fast forward to the night  before (Exactly 12 hours) before the NCLEX. I had a massage appointment lined up at 8 P.M. to help calm my nerves and get me to sleep at a decent time. Before that appointment, I had gone to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is basically submission wrestling). About 15 minutes before class ended, we were training and I went for a take down and my leg folded over and I immediately knew something was wrong and I thought my bones were sticking out of my leg. Fortunately, there wasn’t anything sticking out, but I couldn’t walk and I was in severe pain. It was past the 24 hour time frame to reschedule and I had no choice but to either, not take the exam and not get my money back or take the chance and take the exam in the morning the best I could. I refused to go to the hospital that night and I did my best to get some sleep and ignore the pain until after the NCLEX.

The morning of my exam, I had taken 600mg of Motrin and grabbed some crutches to go in and try my best to focus. I felt super prepared prior to this, but the pain and where my head was at that morning, was a different game. The computer chair was so low and my leg was throbbing that I had the hardest time actually sitting down and focusing on the questions. After I reached question 76 I thought “OK, maybe just a few more”. Then 100, then 150, and at that time I knew I was going for the full 265. I didn’t want to take the break offered because I did not want to have to get up and use the crutches and aggravate my leg more.

I finished up and went straight to the Orthopedic where I found out I had completely torn my ACL, MCL, LCL, Meniscus, Popliteal ligament, and ruptured a cyst in my calf, as well as 2 tiny fractures in my femur and tibia.

I knew I didn’t do well and was freaking out and couldn’t wrap my head around everything that happened. 48 hours after the exam, I found out I indeed, didn’t pass. Unfortunately, I had to give up the position I accepted, and lost my part time job because I couldn’t perform the tasks needed. I was super upset but trying to cling to the “Everything happens for a reason” cliche. I now need surgery to repair my knee and need to retake the NCLEX in 43 days. According to the Performance Report I was “Near the passing standard” in all 8 categories. The only (tiny) accomplishment I can see out of all of this is that I was not below the standard in any category and due to the circumstances I had faced, I did the best I could.

What had happened at the gym that night, I could almost 95% attribute to stress. I have been training like this for years and have never injured myself the way I did that night. I feel as if my body was exhausted, worn down, and could not perform the way it would normally.

Moral of the story: When preparing for the NCLEX, while in Nursing School, and just in LIFE in general, take care of yourself FIRST. When you feel yourself wearing thin, getting tired, and not feeling up to par, listen to your body. Take the breaks and don’t rush. It’s not the end of the world if something doesn’t work out the way you planned it to. There are always other opportunities out there waiting for you.


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