The Legal Beat
How To Beat The Mid-Semester Law School Blues
Posted on Monday October 09, 2017
In my area, it is almost that special time of year where it starts getting dark at 3pm and 52 degrees is considered to be warm. Even if it isn’t about to get cold and dark where you are, you are reaching the half-waypoint of your semester. That probably means your workload is increasing. Not only are you preparing for classes, but you now have legal writing assignments due, outlines to create, and exams to prepare for as well. This can be overwhelming, and a little depressing, to even the most well-adjusted law student.
But, you don’t have to let the semester win. Here are six ways you can take care of yourself and keep your head in the game.
1- Lean on the people who love and care about you
You don’t have to do this whole law school thing alone. Supportive relationships are a key component to keeping you sane and helping you get through this in one piece. Even though you may be completely immersed in all things law school right now, don’t forget about your family and friends, whether near or far. They knew and loved you before law school. They may have great ideas to help you de-stress, or just lend an ear to listen, and give you an outlet to talk about something other than proximate cause or character evidence. Of course, you and your law school friends should also band together and lean on each other for support.
2- Take care of your physical well-being
If you are not sleeping enough, eating garbage, and sitting around at your computer 24/7, you are going to, unsurprisingly, feel like crap. Evaluate your sleeping, eating, and exercise habits. Then, see what changes you should and are able to implement. Having more energy and a clear mind will help you feel ready to tackle the rest of the semester.
3- Make a little time for fun
You don’t have the luxury to take off a weekend or even a full day at this point in the semester. But, if you are managing your time properly, you should have time to take a couple of hours here and there for something fun. I encourage you to make this quality time (as in don’t blow it watching cat videos on YouTube or scrolling through Facebook). Figure out what you want to do that will give you a true break and re-energize you. For some, it may be binge watching Game of Thrones. For others, it might be going for a long hike to get some fresh air or reconnect with nature. For me, it usually involved napping and the mall. But, not at the same time.
4- Create a relaxing and productive environment
Spend some time getting organized. Sort out the piles that have been accumulating on your desk, in your car, and on the living room table (just guessing, definitely not speaking from experience…). But don’t stop at cleaning up your workspace; go the extra step and make it someplace you actually want to be. Buy a candle in a pleasant, soothing scent (might I suggest lavender?), put up some pictures that make you happy, and get yourself one of those little desk fans. The point is to make your space comfortable and inviting for you.
Now is also a good time to take a look at upcoming deadlines and to spend some time recreating, and re-prioritizing your to-do list. Knowing what you have to do and that you aren’t forgetting anything will help alleviate stress.
5- Remember who you are
It is not uncommon for law students to feel like they lose themselves in the process of law school. You become all about law school and being a law student and forget about who you are and what you were about before you got here. This can be problematic, because when you over identify with something your self-worth gets tied to it. And, the very last thing I want for you is to have your self-worth tied to your grades. Make a list of all the things you are. For example, I’m a daughter, wife, friend, teacher, business owner, tinker-bell lover, and lawyer. I am not just one thing, and neither are you.
6- Reflect on your purpose and motivation for coming to law school
It can be easy to get so caught up in the daily grind of law school that you lose sight of the big picture. Mid-semester is the perfect time to remember why you are putting yourself through all of this by refocusing on why you decided to come to law school. Spend some time reflecting on what started you on this journey. You could write yourself a note or create a vision board as a visual reminder of your goals and where you are headed.
On a serious note, if you are really feeling down, overwhelmed, or anxious, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Your mental health is no joke. If you aren’t mentally well, the rest of it won’t matter. Good luck, and even if it doesn’t seem like it today, you’ve got this.
Kerriann Stout is a millennial law school professor and founder of Vinco (a bar exam coaching company) who is generationally trapped between her students and colleagues. Kerriann has helped hundreds of students survive law school and the bar exam with less stress and more confidence. She lives, works, and writes in the northeast. You can reach her by email at [email protected].