Top Ten Tips to Maintain Physical and Mental Health During Law School



Weighing In: Top Ten Tips to Maintain Physical and Mental Health During Law School

  1. Relieve Stress
    Going to the gym, whether it’s lifting weights, running, or just shooting some hoops can provide an outlet to relieve the stress which law school instills. Perhaps set aside a time a couple times a week to go to the gym or get a group together and attend a fitness class.
  2. Set Achievable and Maintainable Goals
    Undoubtedly, every law student has the goal of being at the top of the class, but goals are certainly applicable outside the confines of the classroom. Set a goal to lose some of that added weight put on during finals, and most importantly, reward yourself when a goal is reached!
  3. Find an Accountability Partner 
    Maintaining physical and mental health is a lot easier if there is someone at your side holding you accountable. This is especially true for going to the gym or going to a social event to get your head out of the books for a while.
  4. Drink Water 
    Granted, coffee and other caffeinated beverages have their upsides in regard to health, water is the bodies common denominator in fighting of sickness, maintaining a healthy weight, and keeping all cognitive skills in check. Coffee in the morning hours and limited throughout the day has been shown to increase cognitive ability in the short term, but if overindulged, heavy coffee or caffeinated beverages can lead to blood pressure issues, heart rate, and heart rhythm issues. Grab the morning cup of joe and focus on H2O.
  5. Don’t be Afraid to Reach Out 
    Law school itself is a daunting task and one may feel intimidated to reach out to a peer or a counselor if a problem arises. Rest assured that those within your halls are there to help you. If you feel as though you’re struggling with depression or anxiety to a point beyond your control, go ask for help.
  6. Avoid Impulse Eating 
    It may be easy to have finger food next to you while you read Hawkins v. McGee, but this is when calories can quickly add up. Instead of reaching for those M&M’s, grab a healthy alternative such as carrots, sugar snap peas, or a small handful of nuts.
  7. Read Material Outside the Casebook 
    As a law student, one may metaphorically put “horse blinders” on in regard to the subject matter that one reads. The stress of reading multiple areas of law, coupled with fully comprehending what was read is difficult in itself. Instead of grabbing that treatise or restatement before hitting the hay, reach for easy reading in your favorite genre. Give Dan Brown a try, it will not disappoint.
  8. Log Your Time in a Given Week 
    An exercise that I have personally done, as suggested by a professor, is to log my time committed to everything throughout a day and week. Prior to doing this exercise, you may have thought you didn’t have enough time to get all your work done. After logging your hours (and being honest about it), you can see where you can cut Netflix hours and insert some Civil Procedure.
  9. Develop a Routine 
    Outside of one’s class and extra-curricular activities, the amount of reading and preparation you need to do for the next day may seem overwhelming; this may lead to an arbitrary approach. Meaning that you are working on one subject but thinking about what else has to be done. In order to combat this, create a routine for each night and devote an allotted time for a selected course. Blocking off this time may allow you to shut off the other work and focus on the task at hand.
  10. Don’t Forget to Have Fun Once and a While 
    A common theme throughout a law student’s experience may possibly be summed up as, “there are not enough hours in the day.” Every law student needs to remember that the three yours devoted in professional education is but a minute step in the grand scheme of the legal profession. There will always be a next case to read, a next statute to interpret, but at the end of a long week or after checking a lot off the “to-do list”, do yourself a favor and go have some fun.

Content submitted by Dylan Wheeler.
Dylan Wheeler is a law student at the University of South Dakota School of Law. For more information about wellness, please see Mr. Wheeler's forthcoming article for the Law Student Division Column in the May, 2015 edition of The Federal Lawyer

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