We talked about how you can become a productive law student, while being a happy human being at the same time. If you missed our five tips for achieving balance, take a read here. We continue with this series by bringing you four suggestions for taking care of yourself in law school.
Sleep as much as you need to.
Sleep: Studies indicate that it helps almost everything we do. It restores our immune systems, repairs and reorganizes our brains, and helps with memory consolidation. There’s really no downside to getting a full eight or nine hours! Personally, when I am getting adequate sleep, my work is noticeably more efficient and quick. I am also just generally a kinder, more patient person! For some reason, in law school, though, sleep is often the first thing to go by the wayside. The problem is, it doesn’t really work to catch up on sleep later, the idea of make-up sleep may even be illusory. Do yourself a favor and curb bad sleep habits now. You’ll be glad you did when everyone else is sick, drained and running on empty during reading week.
Exercise and eat well.
To be perfectly candid, I did well with the sleep, but I didn’t work out once during my first semester. Ok, if we’re being totally honest, I really didn’t work out through all of law school — maybe a few times a year. I also shoveled down a pretty appalling amount of convenience food (and by that I mean frozen macaroni and cheese). I still ate my veggies and drank copious amounts of water, but I wasn’t exactly in tip top shape.
I learned later, when studying for the bar exam, what a monumental difference it can make to get up every morning and run (or even take a walk!) and eat a really balanced, healthy diet. When studying, you are what you eat! I’m not saying you will fail your finals if you don’t make dinner every night or go the gym, but try to stay healthy and strong. It will help your energy, your posture, and endorphins might be the best stress reliever that exists!
Write a note to self.
A wonderful law professor and incredibly admirable woman once told me to write a letter to myself during my first semester of law school. She said to scribble down things like, “Dear [your name], I’m so proud of you for making it this far,” “You’re working so hard and reaching your goals is not a matter of if, but when,” “Hang in there, focusing now will pay off later.”
Is this undeniably the most awkward letter-writing experience of my life? Absolutely. But, did I actually pull this letter out and read it numerous times over my first semester when things got tough? Yes! It may sound hokey. It definitely did to me at the time (and I’m from California, where the bar for hokey is pretty low!), but I’m glad I followed her advice.
Try to enjoy life.
Will your legal career always be full of leisurely dinners sleeping in? No, of course not. And, it would be disingenuous of me to say I have never been in my office working at 3am, missed important family events because of a deadline, or that I never decided to just go ahead sleep in my law review office after my staff had all gone home for the night, because I did. Several times! Even after law school (during trial, for example), these kinds of pushes simply need to happen. But, they don’t need to happen on a weekly basis or under normal circumstances. And they shouldn’t! Because guess what? Living like that is not sustainable.
Life is not going to get any easier when you graduate and start studying for the Bar, working for a boss who acts like she owns your nights and weekends, or billing clients in six-minute increments. Take a moment to think about the non-negotiables in your life—for me, these things are travelling, time with loved ones, good food, and adequate sleep. Figure out what these things are for you, and then do everything in your power not to compromise them—now or ever.
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And check out these helpful posts:
- How Being a Law Student and Functional Human Don’t Have to be Mutually Exclusive – Finding Balance
- Keep Your Spirits Up! Don’t Let Negativity Get You Down
- Let’s Talk About Sleep
- Can Meditation Help You Be More Productive and Effective?
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