As finals approach, I have found myself feeling a mix of emotions. Excitement, nervousness, and stress are a few such emotions. Mostly, though, I've been stressed. Prior to hearing the advice of our guest speakers in Professionalism a couple of weeks ago, I was not handling this stress as effectively or efficiently as I could. After considering the speakers' tips for stress management, I decided to try some of them. For the past two weeks, I have been making a conscious effort to stop procrastinating, take time for myself, and make more time for exercise. Although I still feel stressed, my overall level of stress has decreased.
It may seem humorous for me to say, as I'm writing this blog post a mere seven hours before the deadline, that I have been making a conscious effort to stop procrastinating (the "Bellringers" test threw me off my game.) However, I have been following a self-made rule that all of my reading and writing assignments must be finished the day before the class for which I am preparing the assignment. Since I have started following this rule, I have noticed that my time management has improved. Rather than spending thirty minutes on Facebook when I get home from class, I take only enough time to do minor household chores as a break from school-related tasks and then get back to doing homework. Just this past Sunday, I was amazed by the realization that I had completed all my homework for Monday by 3:00 p.m. As a result of good time management, I did not experience the usual stress of looking up from my computer to find that 9:00 p.m. had rolled around and I still had half of Torts and all of Property to read for the next day.
In addition to procrastinating less, I have also been taking fifteen to twenty minutes out of each day to relax and clear my head. I take deep breaths and force myself not to think about school. Since I love to cook, I have tried new recipes a few times. Doing something I enjoy takes my mind off of the demands of life. I turn up my music (my neighbors hate this new stress-relief technique) while I cook or do stretches. After only fifteen minutes of taking time for myself, I feel like a new person. I have more energy and feel more positive about accomplishing everything that has seemed to pile up on my to-do list throughout the day.
With my improved time management and energy, I have also been making more time for exercise. Last week, I went running with a friend on Monday, participated in a fitness class on Tuesday, and played volleyball on Thursday. Not only has this reduced my stress level, but I have also been sleeping better. Good sleep goes a long way in law school!
When I heard the advice of the speakers in Professionalism, I did not pay much attention at first because I had heard it all previously. I told myself that I didn't need better stress management techniques. However, after further thought, I decided to heed the speakers' advice and see where it got me. Overall, I think that my stress level has decreased and I have a more positive outlook on the upcoming finals.