November 20, 2010
10 Stress Busters
Tis' the season for stress. Consider using the following quick tips to lower stress:
- Do your hardest or least liked task first. That way it will not hang over you all day and increase your stress.
- Break down any task into smaller steps. It is less stressful to contemplate reading just one case than to approach 35 pages of reading for a course. After the first case, contemplate just the second case, and so forth.
- Learn just two or three rules at a time. Memory will work better when not overloaded. Your stress will go down as you succeed in remembering smaller amounts of material at one time.
- Ask for help. If you hit a wall on understanding a concept, ask a classmate, teaching assistant/tutor, or professor for assistance. Stress increases dramatically when you stubbornly keep on struggling alone with only frustration as payoff.
- Mark down all deadlines. Mark down an artificial deadline two days prior to each real deadline. Work toward finishing any task by the artificial deadline. You then can be less stressed as you do a final paper edit, a few more practice questions, or a last review of your outline.
- List four things you plan to do for fun during semester break. Read the list often. You will be less stressed knowing you have things to look forward to once exams are over.
- Listen to mellow music. Find something calming and possibly do some deep-breathing exercises to while you listen.
- Go to the cinema. Sitting in a dark movie theater watching an enjoyable film allows you to get completely away from the law school grind and escape into another existence.
- Play with a child. Take your youngest, your favorite niece, or your neighbor's child to the park. Giggle a lot. Be silly. Eat a kid's meal. Remember what it was like to be that age and have fun.
- Pet your pooch or cuddle your cat. Stroking animals is calming. Animal love can make the world a more enjoyable place.
Manage your stress so that it does not manage you. The sooner you implement stress busters into your regimen, the more likely you can prevent stress from getting out of hand. (Amy Jarmon)
November 17, 2010
Keeping a positive attitude
Over the 9 years that I have been doing academic support with law students, I have become more and more convinced that a positive attitude is a must for this period in the semester. When law students begin to focus on the negative and lose their self-esteem, they handicap themselves in their studying.
Consequently, I give a lot of pep talks. But, I cannot be with them 24 hours a day to keep that positive attitude going. So, here are some of the things that I suggest they can do to stay focused on the positive:
- Post positive messages around the apartment. For one student, these messages might be famous quotes. For another student, they may be scriptures. For another, inspirational pictures rather than words may be more helpful. (Personally, I watch Susan Boyle's first appearance on Britain's Got Talent on You-Tube whenever I want inspiration for beating the odds - talk about a positive attitude when everyone is snickering before you open your mouth to sing!)
- Ask an encourager to phone or e-mail every day. A family member or friend whose job is to keep you focused on the positive can be a valuable asset. Having someone who cares enough to believe in your abilities is priceless.
- Visualize your own success. Athletes often visualize themselves succeeding in whatever they are trying to accomplish: a new height for a pole vaulter, a difficult jump for a figure skater, a faster flip turn for a swimmer. Law students can use visualization to picture themselves walking into an exam, being confident in every question's answer, and completing the exam on time.
- Remember that people learn differently. You are the same intelligent, successful person as when you arrived at your law school. You may learn at a different pace than others. You may have different learning styles. Determine how you need to learn and work for understanding rather than measure yourself against what others do. If they have a technique that will work for you, adopt it. But do not try to become someone that you are not.
- Forget about grades. Grades will not come out until January, and there is no way of knowing now what your grades will be. Focus on today. Finish today what needs to be done. It is the daily accumulation of knowledge that gets the grades. Focusing now on January grades takes one's eye off the ball.
- Avoid people who are toxic. There are always a few law students who want to make others feel stupid and who play games to panic those who are less confident. You do not have to agree to be the victim. Walk away. Do not listen to their ploys.
- Study somewhere different than the law school. Law students often tell me that they feel they have to study non-stop at the law school during the last weeks. Then they tell me how stressed the law school makes them feel. My response? Go somewhere else to study: the main university library, another academic building, the student union meeting rooms, a coffeehouse.
- Keep your perspective about law school in the scheme of life. As bad as your day may seem, it is really a blessing. Lots of people would love to have the opportunity you have. Each day millions of people in our world are without food, water, health care, shelter, and education. Law school is not so difficult in comparison.
- Up your number of hours of sleep. If you are well-rested, you will be more likely to stay positive. Things look much brighter when you have enough sleep. And you absorb more, retain more, and are more productive. Get a minimum of 7 hours and try for 8 hours.
- Add exercise as a break from studying. Exercise is a valuable stress-buster. Whether you just walk around your apartment complex, run a mile, or do 25 sit-ups it will help you expend stress. Instead of skipping exercise, add in at least 1/2 hour three times a week.
- List three nice things you did during the day. Before you go to bed, think of three things you did that were acts of kindness. It may be holding a door, giving change for the vending machine, or lending your notes to a classmate. No matter how small, the acts of kindness will make you feel good about yourself. And before you know it, you will be able to count more times than three when you were a blessing to someone else.
When you are in the thick of law school, it is hard to realize that there are simple ways to get your perspective back. Practicing even just one or two of these methods can make a difference in your attitude. And the more of these steps you follow, the more positive you will feel. (Amy Jarmon)
November 16, 2010
Returning member to the FAMU Academic Success and Bar Prep Team
Jendayi Saada, Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation, at Florida A & M University School of Law recently posted to the ASP listserv that Keith Neyland has re-joined their staff. We would like to welcome Keith back to ASP. Please be on the lookout for him at conferences and workshops. (Amy Jarmon)
Below is an excerpt from Jendayi's listserv posting:
Professor Keith Neyland has a strong background as a labor attorney. He initially came to FAMU as the Coordinator of Academic Success, then crossed over to the Legal Methods Department where he taught various workshops and counseled students with writing issues. We were able to convince Keith to return to his roots as a member of the ASBP team. Given Keith’s enthusiastic desire to work with students in skills development and bar preparation, his choice was not difficult. The ASBP Department and the students at FAMU are indeed fortunate to have Keith as a valuable team member as we continue our mission of increased student performance and ultimately, higher bar passage rates.