It’s that time of the semester. When the deadlines that seemed so far off on the first day of classes suddenly loom nearer. When you’re facing down your first mid-term. When you realize just how much work stands between you and the bliss that is Winter break. It’s hard. I know. I’ve been there. But I have some advice that will help keep you on a more even, healthy keel throughout this process known as law school.
Here it is: take care of yourself. Sounds so simple and trite. But it’s true. You have to take care of yourself. You can only study so many hours a day before the law of diminishing returns sets in. So what should you do with the rest of your time? Take care of yourself, body and soul.
Eat. Not the preformed stuff that comes in vending machines. Take the time to make real food once a week and eat off the leftovers as you hit the round of class, work and clubs. Exercise. I’m not saying that you have to hit the gym every day for two hours. But walk, stretch, run. Do yoga. Hit the treadmill. Lift some weights. The mindfulness that comes from exercise, along with the simple exhaustion that comes from a workout well run, will help keep your skittery brain on track. It’ll help you sleep better, too, and may burn out some of your anxiety.
Take the time to do small things for yourself that make you feel good. I don’t mean that you should finish each night with a bottle of wine, but maybe a massage is in order in the middle of the semester. Check out the many services at our law school neighbor the St. Joseph Family Center at http://www.sjfconline.org/. They offer counseling, mediation and yoga classes along with therapeutic massage on a sliding-scale basis. And don’t forget about Gonzaga’s chapel on the 3rd floor of the law school. It provides a quiet place to clear your head and calm your spirit. Don’t save all of your treats for after finals.
As for your soul. Well, law school is a competitive place. So, practice being one of the “good guys” in your class. Study hard and be a supportive member of your class. It isn’t a sign of weakness to be open to new people. Volunteer your time to help someone out. Whether it’s writing wills for vets or petting cats at Spokanimal, a little time away from worrying about just where you fit into thenew scheme of things can give you a much needed break that will help you keep your head. If you’re really having a hard time, go to the Counseling Center on campus. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 313-5054. Don’t put it off saying that you don’t have time. Lawyers have some of the highest rates of depression and substance abuse of any profession. Don’t let this start in law school. Keep your head—along with your body and soul.