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How to avoid study burnout as a law student

BY EVE DULLABH
How do you aim for peak performance as a law student while avoiding burnout? At times it can be a juggling act; but here are some tips that can help.

Take your stress seriously

Some stress can provide focus and motivation; but too much pressure has adverse effects. These can include poor mood and sleep, aches, high blood pressure, vulnerability to infection and stomach disorders. The more that stress is prolonged, the greater its symptoms. Untreated, it can directly affect academic performance with a range of afflictions from tiredness, lack of concentration, procrastination to reducing ambitions and depression.
The good news is that are ways you can help protect yourself from stress and its impact upon your physical and mental health. You are not alone – many other students experience similar problems and help is available. The techniques below have been proven to work in many situations. Treat your stress seriously and have a strategy to lessen it. It’s good practice for other areas of life too including the stresses and strains – as well as the benefits – of working in law.

Pinpoint what triggers your stress

Basic this into: 1. Study-related factors: is it exam pressure, feeling unprepared, specific course requirements, volume of study, juggling working and study, fellow students or your working environment including spending too much time at the screen? Sometimes there are multiple sources of stress requiring more than one solution.

2. Ways in which you react to stress. Do you confront it, ignore it, despair of it, talk about it, express it through anger, exercise because of it, fidget or fill yourself up with food? Many responses to stress are “natural”; some are helpful while others are counterproductive.

Make the fundamental goals of self-care your priorities

These all-important objectives are a decent amount of sleep, good diet and regular exercise. It often feels there isn’t enough time for any of those – but skipping them is a short-cut that can quickly backfire. On the contrary, rest, nutrition and physical activity are known to lower stress levels, and often significantly.

Have outside interests

Achieve study-life balance through hobbies and pursuits.

At the same time, remind yourself why you’ve chosen to study

Write keywords that describe your stress-busting strategies on to post-it notes and arrange them on a wall or door. At the centre of the display have a note or two with the key words on them that describe the positive reasons you’ve chosen to study law. Keep your eye on the prize.

Practice mediation, relaxation or mindfulness techniques

Being still and breathing can help eliminate some of the worst manifestations of stress – high blood pressure, for example. There are popular mindfulness apps – Headspace and Calm among others – which can help guide you to more focused and less anxious mental perspectives.

Snack on a range of healthy “mind-treats”

  • Phone a friend
  • Stretch
  • Smile
  • Play a quick video game
  • Listen to music – and sing to it if you like it. Or have a quick dance
  • Walk around the block
  • Step sideways through your front door. ANYTHING (within reason) that breaks the pattern
  • Write about it

    Writing about stress can loosen its grip. Lay it down in a notepad, in an online journal or a diary app. Seek the perspective of the written word.

    Practise forgiveness

    It’s part of life that things don’t always go to plan. If you encounter a setback be kind to yourself. Some students set aside time each day to practise thanks and positive thoughts and kindness towards themselves.

    Family & friends

    Spend time with friends, family and those who you care for and who care for you.

    Don’t be afraid to get help

    No-one is an island. Always talk with your tutor or another teacher if you’re having problems with study. If things get rough, seek professional help.

    Happy holidays to all of you hard working students out there!