Trending Topics

6 stress-management tips for EMT students

Anytime you feel your stress level rising, try these techniques to manage it effectively

Updated March 12, 2015

If you are about to complete your EMT training and prepare for the National Registry examination, your stress level is probably rising. A high-stakes certification test coupled with work and family demands may have you experiencing levels of stress you have not experienced before.

When I experience this, I try to remember management techniques that have served me well as a student, field EMS provider, educator, and manager:

  1. Maintain a routine. Whether on the road or at home, I try to keep a similar routine of waking up, eating, working, family time and lights out. If my stress is work-related, I focus on resolving it during work time and keep it out of my mind during family time.
  2. Prioritize personal health and wellness. For me, exercise, a full night’s sleep and eating well are even more important during high-stress periods. Tending to my basic needs helps me have the energy and focus to work through stressful challenges. I also find solo exercise, like running or biking, great for puzzling through complex challenges.
  3. Schedule downtime with friends and family. No matter how many hours I work in a day, week or month, I simply can’t get everything done. Accepting that the to-do list will never be finished allows me to walk away from it at the end of the day, for the weekend or for a scheduled vacation. When I return, the to-do list is still waiting for me, but I have had valuable time away.
  4. Realize stress is personal. We all experience and respond to the same stressors differently. Don’t let someone else’s stress become yours. If you are not worried about the NREMT exam, don’t start fretting just based on the reactions of your colleagues or instructor.
  5. Acknowledge that stress is relevant. I like to take stock of my situation and acknowledge all that is going well and that I have many reasons to be grateful. Despite your current stress, take stock of what is going well for you.
  6. Ask, “Why not me?” I have found it helpful to turn exasperating life events on their head by saying not “Why me?” but instead “Why not me?” When you run out of time to study for an exam or are asked to pair up with a struggling student, try this exercise. You might find that you handle the situation better than you imagined.

What are your stress-management tips? I am especially interested in how you manage your stress as you prepare for a test. Please share your thoughts and tips in the comments.

Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is the Lexipol Editorial Director, leading the efforts of the editorial team on Police1, FireRescue1, Corrections1 and EMS1. Greg served as the EMS1 editor-in-chief for five years. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from the University of Idaho. He is an educator, author, national registry paramedic since 2005, and a long-distance runner. Greg was a 2010 recipient of the EMS 10 Award for innovation. He is also a three-time Jesse H. Neal award winner, the most prestigious award in specialized journalism, and the 2018 and 2020 Eddie Award winner for best Column/Blog. Connect with Greg on LinkedIn.