Classes commence August 26th! Are you stressed yet? Whether you coasted through undergrad or stayed up all night studying, law school does not discriminate; it is universally stressful! In fact, according to a study conducted at Texas Tech University School of Law, law students exhibit far higher levels of stress than their counterparts at medical schools. Law school students test higher than other graduate school students in terms of academic and “fear-of-failing” stress.1 While popular opinion remains that the first year of law school is the most stressful, studies have debunked that myth: law students experience comparable amounts of stress throughout their time in law school (not exactly an uplifting realization)!
Stress does not have to be dealt with as a bad thing, however. The American Psychological Association identifies three kinds of stress: acute, acute episodic, and chronic.2 Only the last two are concerning for psychologists — those are your long-term existential crises and the like. Most of the stress we experience on a day-to-day basis is acute, or rather, short-term and situational. That stress you experience during exam week? Not a bad thing! A certain level of stress is healthy if moderated properly.
How do we deal with stress? Make time for downtime. Playtime is not limited to children! Play is important for healthy brain development and is crucial in socialization, or “fitting in,” which may be a major stressor for those 1Ls gearing up for day one! At the very least, it will help clear your mind for a while so you can tackle your challenges fresh.
NPR has been running an excellent series on the concept of play in relation to learning. Should you be at a loss for what activities to pursue in your spare time, take their quiz to find the best activities for what motivates you (mine was rock climbing… pretty spot on!):
If you are not from the Orlando area, or have not been much of an adventurer here, take this opportunity to explore all the city has to offer. Ask the locals (or the library staff!) and you’re bound to find something new and interesting.
The world is your oyster!
Hopefully, these tips will help you deal with stress. If nothing else, remember that you are not alone and the Barry community is rooting for you!
1. Soonpaa, Nancy J. “Stress in Law Students: A Comparative Study of First-Year, Second-Year and Third-Year Students.” (2004): 355-60. The Texas Tech University School of Law Digital Repository. Web. 8 Aug. 2014.
2. “Stress: The Different Kinds of Stress.” Http://www.apa.org. American Psychological Asociation, 2014. Web. 06 Aug. 2014.