aechsner

Tips for Feeling Your Best Self as a First Year Law Student

Starting law school is an exciting and important step in the direction of your blossoming legal career.  Setting yourself a solid legal foundation is crucial for further success and accomplishments in this field. While class prep, outlining, and your legal research & writing (LRW) course will take up most of your time your first year, below are a few tips for how you can stay healthy, happy, and keep a positive mindset!

1. Save money by bringing your lunch, snacks, and even instant coffee to school with you. It might sound silly but when you crunch the numbers of your daily visit to Starbucks and Panera Bread it will quickly add up and it might possibly add a bit more stress to your load. I brought my own food and thermos every single day of law school. It felt good to know that I was eating healthfully and not having to spend additional food money each day.  To do it, set aside a few hours one day a week, preferably Sunday, and  prepare something that you do not mind eating all week for lunch and that will keep. Most law schools have a refrigerator where you can keep your cold stuff and if not, you can find the right person and ask politely.  

2. Make sure to take a LOT of breaks. Whether you get up and walk around the neighborhood or you stand up tall and stretch high towards the ceiling, make sure to change your environment every few hours and give your hard working brain fresh air.  A breathe of fresh air is so good for your spirit and it will even get you outside from the basement of the library.  If you have fifteen minutes between classes, dash outside and take a walk around the school.  Your attention span will thank you in your next class!

3. Exercise / Find your outlet for movement.  Of course, if you were not super active to begin with you might not want to start training for a marathon as you first begin law school but ANY sort of movement is encouraged. You might also retort: "I DO NOT HAVE TIME!" You can make time, say 10 minutes a day?, for some sort of movement. Your body will thank you as will your mood and energy level.  Sitting and studying for so many hours a day is tough on the body and can even make you sore so try to find an activity that you enjoy and look forward to each day.  

4. Visualize and Meditate. The stakes can be high and you might feel an immense amount of pressure to be the best law student you can be. This is normal. Visualization helps ease anxiety you might have regarding an upcoming exam. If you can visualize every detail of the exam day (the entire day leading up to your exam, walking to your exam, calmly taking the exam, acknowledging that you might have trouble on a section or two and not freaking out, successfully finishing the exam, and walking out of the exam with your head held high) -- you CAN and you WILL do it! On the other hand, meditation helps you keep a grateful heart and reminds you to stay in the present and not wander too far into the future. If you are new to meditation, you could start by typing in "guided meditation, anxiety" (or what it is you have trouble with) into Youtube and see what you can find. It might seem hokey but it will help you be at ease!

5. Get and Stay Organized. Whether you use an electronic calendar or an old-fashioned planner (like me!), make sure to keep it and to a T. This is a great habit to have and it will keep you out of any deadline trouble.

6. Plan something fun (at least once a week). Whether you make Thursday night take out and movie night with your law school pals or make a date with yourself to see the movie you have been wanting to see, do it. When you are there - fully commit and enjoy yourself. You know the saying, work hard, play hard.

7. Become friends with an upperclassman. I was lucky enough to serendipitously meet a 3L within the first few weeks of starting law school. This friendship was a boost in my morale when I felt depleted at any point during the first year. It was great to have someone who I could rely on, study with on Friday nights, and ask anything law related.  Not to mention, if they are a true friend, they will give you comments on your LRW paper! SP, I am still grateful to you for the enjoyment of my first year. 

8. And lastly, remember what brought you to where you are in the first place. You would not be in law school if you had not already dedicated a substantial amount of time, money, and effort into yourself and your education. Remember, you are good enough and deserve to be there!

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