Tips for Stress Resilience During Law School

Stress can begin to escalate to new levels of intensity during law school.  However, this is also the time when you need to use your best stress resilience skills.  Stress that is out of control can lead to illness, anxiety, lessened concentration, lack of sleep, and many other problems.  Below are a few tips on managing your stress for the remainder of the semester.

Put grades in perspective. 

Grades are not equal to who you are as a person.  You have knowledge of the course, talents, character strengths, and other skills that go beyond that one exam.  We have many extraordinarily gifted and successful graduates in law practice and on the bench who will openly state that they graduated in the “great middle” of their class.  For courses with the only grade attached to the final exam, the grade only measures how you performed on that limited set of questions on that day during 3 or 4 hours.  

All you can ask of yourself is to do the best that you can. 

No one can do better than his or her best.  No man or woman is perfect.  Even your professors can only do their best on any tasks.  The important thing is to do as well as you can within your intellectual capabilities, talents, and skills.  Our best does not always get us an “A” grade, but it does get us self-respect.    

Do not dwell on what you have no control over. 

You cannot control the days of your exams in most cases.  You cannot control the questions on your exams.  You cannot control paper deadlines.  You cannot control how a professor grades.  Do not waste time wishing that you had control over these things.  Focus instead on what you can control.

Do not dwell on what you did not do earlier in the semester. 

You cannot change that you did not study enough during the first part of the semester.  You cannot change that you did not choose the best course load.  You cannot change that you did not find a study partner earlier.  You cannot change that you did not do practice questions earlier.  You cannot change that you did not outline earlier.  Regrets get you no further along the path to exam success.  Make a note to change next semester.  But for now, spend time and energy focusing on what you can still control.     

Take control of what YOU can control. 

You can ask your professors questions about material you do not understand.  You can study with classmates to gain new or broader perspectives on the material.  You can ask a professor to look at an outline to see if you are on the right track.  You can do more practice questions.  You can set up a structured time management schedule for each remaining week to distribute tasks more effectively.  You can use study aids to help you understand material that is still vague.  You can use breaks to increase your focus during intense study periods.  You can use rewards to keep yourself motivated.

Remember to look at the pieces and not the whole. 

Focus on one small task at a time.  List all of the topics that you need to review for each exam course.  List all of the research, writing, and editing tasks that you need to complete for a paper.  Then focus on one small task at a time until that small task is complete.  Cross it off the list and move on to the next small task.  Step by step you can do it all.

Ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed. 

Talk to your professors about areas of the course that are confusing you.  Talk to a counselor at the Student Counseling Center.  Talk to a physician if you are having physical problems.  Talk to your family. 

Sleep at least 8 hours a night. 

You will be more productive when you study.  You will be able to focus on the essentials.  You will be able to make wiser decisions about your priorities for studying.  You will feel less helpless and hopeless.  You will be less likely to burst into tears or yell at everyone around you.  You will go into exams well-rested and alert.

Add exercise to your schedule if you have let it go. 

Exercise is one of the best stress busters you can use.  Try to get a minimum of three 30-minute workouts a week.  Consider where a study break can include an exercise break.  Even walking around the building or the campus can be a boon to your brain cells for memory and your body for sleeping better.


For other helpful tips, check out these:

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