It’s no secret that high levels of stress can wreak havoc on both your mental and physical health if uncontrolled. It is also no secret that law school can cause massive amounts of stress as a result of everything from the curve, grades, and cold calls to the job hunt. To keep your physical and mental health in good shape, it is imperative that you manage your schedule and stress well. Fortunately, there are a number of methods you can use to manage your physical and mental health during law school.
Get Enough Sleep
One of the most important things you can do for your physical and mental health in law school is get enough sleep. While it can be all too easy to let this fall by the wayside in the interest of finishing up an assignment or getting just a bit more reading done, it is in your best interest to get to bed at a reasonable hour. To make sure you get sleep, try to block off your time for sleep in a calendar, so you can plan your work around it. If sleeping hours are already blocked off on your calendar, you will be less likely to push it off.
Stay Physically Active
Another thing that can make a huge difference in your physical and mental health is exercise, no matter how light or brief. Physical activity is another thing that is easily put off, especially if it isn’t planned for, but it can make a huge difference in relieving stress. As with sleep, the likelihood that it will be pushed off decreases if you plan time for it in advance. Try to work in some time each week to do some sort of physical activity, even if only for a short period of time. If you really feel pressed for time, consider bringing your notes or outline to the gym with you, and choose an activity where you can read them while exercising (i.e., stationary bike). This isn’t a perfect way to study and isn’t a replacement for more focused studying, but may help you get your exercise in during busy times.
Another thing that can have a positive impact on your health is getting outside, even if only briefly. As a law student, you likely spend an awful lot of time indoors, in class or studying, which can become claustrophobic very quickly. Spending time outside can help reduce stress, which will in turn help maintain a healthy mind and body. Even if you do not have much time, try to get some time outside, even if just for a few minutes. Taking even a short walk around campus between classes, or during a study break can help reset your mind.
Stay on Top of your Nutrition
When things get hectic and time gets tight, it becomes all too easy to look to meals that are fast and convenient (and probably cheap). More often than not, this combination does not result in the most nutritious meals. While it can be challenging, planning in time to prepare nutritious meals for yourself will help keep your health on track. Try to take some time each week to go to the grocery store and get what you need for the week, so that you can reduce the need to run out to get food multiple times. You can also save time by preparing a larger batch of something to have for a few days, or by making lunches ahead of time.
While it may seem like there is far too much work to do to take breaks, doing so will actually be beneficial to you and your health in the long run. You can only focus for so long before your mind needs to reset, so planning in time for both short and longer breaks can actually help you work more efficiently. Every hour or so, try to take a short break (10-15 minutes or so), and every few hours try to take a longer break (at least an hour) to help your mind refocus and de-stress, so you can study more efficiently.
Learn Stress Management Techniques
This is far easier said than done, but it is important that you learn to manage your stress early on in law school, or it can quickly become overwhelming. Too much stress can compromise not only your mental health, but your physical health as well. Whether you incorporate some of the suggestions above to better manage your stress, or you use methods such as breathing exercises and meditation, it is vital to your health that you learn to manage this.
Ask for Help if you need it
Finally, if you feel like nothing is working well enough for you, one of the best things you can do is ask for help. Most schools will have some combination of counselors, academic support staff and student health staff who can help you further keep your physical and mental health in check. These resources exist for you to take advantage of, so be sure to familiarize yourself with what is available to you and take advantage of it!
Law school can be very trying on both your mental and physical health. There are many methods you can use, and resources you can take advantage of, to keep yourself physically and mentally healthy during law school.
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