By Emily Fruge
Before beginning the eye-opening journey that is law school, how many horror stories were you told about how your life would be absolute hell for these next three years? I’m willing to bet that’s the only thing you heard. Nobody bothered to mention how rewarding this experience can be. If you are a 1L, like myself, I’m sure you’re reading this and thinking, “I just spent the past five hours of my life attempting to understand the meaning of Pennoyer v. Neff; this is absolutely NOT a rewarding experience!” And sometimes, when I’m buried in books at midnight on a Tuesday, I would agree with you.
It’s crazy to think that we were all once undergrads, taking the LSAT, applying for law school, and our most prominent dream was just being admitted to LSU Law. What a different world, right? If getting the chance to pursue a law degree at this school was something that we all wished for so badly, why is it all of a sudden being taken for granted? It’s simple: STRESS.
Stress makes you view everything in life through a negative lens. It can take the most beautiful blessings you have and make you see them as burdens, just like how a lot of you are viewing law school right now. But I have some very good news. This can change! While attempting not to be cliché, I want to give you practical, realistic advice on coping with this monster that lives inside our minds and is constantly reminding you that your life sucks. I’m sure you have been given loads of tips on how to cope with stress, like exercising (seriously, if one more person tells me to go for a run when I’m having a panic attack, I might scream), but I’m here to offer you three tricks that hopefully you haven’t considered before and can maybe help you manage stress in law school.
FIRST: Stop asking people about their schedules. Seriously, stop. Hearing about the hours your friend spent in the library yesterday or how early they wake up in the morning to get stuff done will never contribute to your success. It does nothing but force you to compare yourself to them. It is CRUCIAL to keep in mind that you were admitted into law school because you can do this. Go at your own pace and find your own groove.
SECOND: Breathe. I know a million people have told you to do this throughout your life. But how many times have you brushed this aside and thought how dumb it was for somebody to remind you to perform a mindless and routine bodily function? It’s important to keep in mind that when you stress, your mind can become so overwhelmed with anxiety that your breathing becomes irregular, and that may end up making your panic worse. You can literally forget to breathe normally under these conditions. So, try this… when you are under unbearable stress and can’t seem to calm down, close your eyes and focus on this pattern: Breathe in for four seconds, hold that breath for four seconds, and exhale for four seconds. Do this four times. This will calm your nerves and get you back on what’s important: Your success.
THIRD: Force yourself to relax. If you are anything like me, relaxing can be more burdensome than briefing cases for Civ Pro. Every time I find myself relaxing, I feel like I should be studying, and I become more stressed than if I were swamped with work. This is that monster again. Instead of feeling guilty about relaxing, understand that you deserve to reward yourself after getting your work done. Remind yourself that you went to your classes, you were engaged and understood (at least some) of the material, and you completed assignments just to be prepared for tomorrow’s classes. That is a lot of work! You did it! Now, go relax. Whether that is taking a bath or watching Netflix (or both), make your brain and body relax after tackling another a day of law school.
Keep these three tips in mind. They are realistic, and they are necessary. You can do this! Now go take a Melatonin tablet and pray you don’t get cold called tomorrow in Criminal Law!