Advice · Law School

Top 10: How to Deal with Stress

It looks like I’m going to have to change my blog name. Apparently, it’s a popular one, and I’d like to stay unique. I’ll think of ideas around Spring Break when I have time, but I’m thinking of something along the lines of: “Judicially Jen” or Hearsay Heroine.” You know, something to invoke the law school touch. I’ve also decided to change the direction of this thing…again. I’m not going to do the point-counterpoint posts. While it sounds like a phenomenal, interesting idea it will probably be way too time consuming for the lack of time I currently have to sit down and write about fun things other than grievance decisions or legal writing assignments. So, without changing the once-in-awhile posts about law school itself; I’m going to stick with the advice and write “top 10’s” or “top 5s” pertaining to law school or life in general, and mix in thoughts about current events. I know, it’s not much of a change; I’m essentially just eliminating the point-counter-point idea. Maybe when I graduate law school I can actually bring that idea to life.

Well, in any event let’s move to first top 10. Actually, it’s more like 4th or 6th post of these I’ve done but this is the “official” one.

Stress. It’s everywhere, but I feel like it envelopes me completely in law school. While the assignments have gotten easier, and the reading not so daunting (because I’m used to it) it doesn’t take away the fact that everything still feels like A LOT of work. A LOT, I tell you. If I’m not reading I’m working on a presentation. If I’m not working on a presentation I’m editing a journal note. And on, and on, and on. It never ends. I have even less time this semester because I’m also working. Not to mention, I’m getting to the point of just flat out indifference to whole thing. Plus, I have lost my eyesight from not giving myself enough breaks. But, I have come to pick up a few very important stress relievers. So, let me share my wisdom.

1. Exercise.

This sounds like a given, but I have finally joined a gym, and I love every minute of it. I do everything from intense cardio to pilates, and I feel wonderful afterward. It’s like a retreat. I can tell a huge difference in my demeanor between this semester and last semester. You don’t necessarily have to join a gym, but going for a walk or a run is key to staving off bouts of stress or pressure.

2. Don’t procrastinate

I’ve never procrastinated, but I have a lot of friends that do. Planning ahead and doing a little bit everyday will keep you calmer, and chances are, you’ll turn in a better work product. I just cannot handle the level of stress that accompanies waiting until the last minute. Besides, law school is not the place to wait to do this. Of course, I do know people who can pull this off and do well; but why? Do yourself (and your heart) a favor and plan ahead.

3. Have fun

Plan for fun in your life. Locking yourself away in the library all weekend will get old quick without some fun. I have finally developed some fantastic friends here in Chicago, and I love love love to go out dancing. This is my aphrodisiac. Not only am I getting in some exercising, but I am also blowing off some steam. I am very guilty of locking myself up in the library all weekend (sometimes it is hard to walk away from a big assignment), but I’ve been learning to give myself a little bit of fun.

4. Sleep

I don’t get enough sleep. A lot of people don’t. I’ve been trying to get into the habit of going to bed earlier, but it just isn’t working. I’m clearly not a morning person, and I love staying up late. The fact of the matter is that I’m drowsy most of the day. Not good. Get that 8 hours of sleep. Sleep is even more important around finals. Sadly, I have a very hard time sleeping after finals, so if you go to a school where you have finals back-to-back either change your schedule or ask for a re-schedule of finals.

5. Pick up a hobby

Find something that you can do every week for a few hours. It could be a swing dancing class or trivia night, but find something you enjoy and are good at and stick to it. It’s a great outlet, and sometimes it will give you a well-deserved ego boost.

6. Don’t listen to the braggers

Oh, we’ve all seen and heard them. They’re the kids who like to brag constantly about their achievements in law  school with total disregard to everyone else’s feelings. It’s not just once every month—it’s all the time. Like they’re trying to “one-up” on you or something. Who cares. It does nothing but stress people out, and it tends to make people feel bad. If you know people like this, learn to tune out the nonsense. Surround yourself with supportive people–negative, selfish comments will only get people so far.

7. Know when to ask for help

You’re in class talking about hearsay and the entire lesson goes completely over your head. You’re too embarrassed to ask questions in front of the entire class because  you think everyone else understands what’s going on. The truth of the matter is your entire class probably doesn’t understand the lesson either. I know it can be intimidating to ask questions in class, but learn to ask for help when you need it. I will normally email the professor a day after class to clarify the concept or ask a friend. Do something to satisfy that nagging stress response of not knowing what is going on. Worst feeling ever.

8. Stay in touch with family

Man, I am so guilty of failing on this one. It’s awful. I went from talking to my mom almost everyday in undergrad to barely speaking to her now out of the sheer fact that I am literately running from work to school most of the time. Plus, the battery on my cell phone is dead 90% of the time. I need a new battery. But whatever I just said is not excuse. I love my family very much, and I need to make a better effort to stay in touch. Besides, talking to my family always brings home back to my mind and a sense of comfort.

9. Take frequent breaks

This is how I lost my eyesight. I would read and stare extremely hard at words on a computer screen or book for hours upon hours without giving myself a break. Terrible, Terrible. It puts stress on your eyes and can often lead to headaches. These are the wise words from my eye doctor: “stare out the window for a few minutes” to give your eyes a break.

10. Video games

I am not joking when I say that I love video games for stress relief. It always feels great to get the honor of yelling at the television or killing the bad guy. My husband looks at me like I am insane sometimes because I am absolutely addicted to the game, Fat Princess, but it’s amazing. If you’ve never played video games religiously then you might not understand this one…but I am telling you to give it a try. Very therapeutic.


4 thoughts on “Top 10: How to Deal with Stress

  1. Just found your blog and thought it was really good. I love your layout and blog signature (great touch!)
    I did a post similar to this a few weeks ago and I didn’t think about some of your suggestions… great job!

    Can’t wait to read more

  2. I need to follow many of these points, probably especially 4, 6 and 9.

    Jen, it seems like you’re doing so well! I hope law school is great and that you’re living it up! :)

    Btw, thanks for the link to my blog – that means so much!

    1. Aw, thanks Lisa! Things are good over here! I’m glad things are going so well for you too! I’m really glad I get to keep in touch with a lot of my wonderful friends from journalism :) And you’re welcome for the link! I love your blog!

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