Wednesday, December 1, 2010

10 Stressors to Avoid

Tis' the season for stress - Part II.  You want to avoid the following things so your stress level does not skyrocket:

  • Procrastination.  The longer you put off a task, the more onerous it becomes.  Stress builds as the guilt builds.  Stress builds as the deadline gets closer and time runs out.  "I work better under pressure" is a destructive myth.
  • Missed deadlines for papers or projects.  Check and double-check.  And also make sure you follow any extra instuctions regarding document binding, hard copies versus electronic copies, location for submission, or other requirements.
  • Lack of practice questions before the exam.  Your stress will be greater if you have done very few practice questions.  Practice questions ahead of the exam allow you to monitor your understanding of the content, apply the content to new fact scenarios, practice exam-taking strategies, and practice some questions under timed conditions.   
  • Errors in reading your exam schedule.  Check and double-check.  Know the date.  Know the time.  Know the room.  If you get disability accommodations, make sure you know your exam schedule rather than the published exam schedule that everyone else follows. 
  • Over-sleeping your exam.  A major stressor!  Get at least 8 hours of sleep the night before the exam.  Set multiple alarms.  Have a friend call you if necessary.
  • Poor time management in the exams.  It is important to finish all questions on the exam.  Having to rush to finish increases stress.  Distribute your time wisely by making a time chart as soon as the exam begins.  Note the times that you must begin and end questions.  For each fact-pattern-essay question, divide the amount of time for that question between reading, analyzing, and organizing (1/3) and writing (2/3).  For multiple-choice questions, determine time checkpoints and the number of questions you must complete by that time (for example, 15 after 1/2 hour; 30 after 1 hour; 45 after 1 1/2 hours; 60 after 2 hours).
  • Family commitments and home projects.  Avoid non-urgent commitments that increase stress by decreasing study time.  Now is not a good time to invite Auntie Em to visit for two weeks or decide to paint the living room.  Alert your family and friends to the fact that your success is dependent on your focusing on your studies.
  • Work obligations.  Combining work and study is stressful during exams.  Evening or part-time students who work full-time should consider whether they can take vacation days to gain more study time.  Part-time law clerks should consider decreasing or eliminating work hours during exams if their employers are understanding.
  • Reliance on rumours.  Do not believe everything you hear.  The grapevine content will increase in its absurdity at this time of year.  If the message you hear results in more stress, it was probably disseminated by another law student who wanted to scare his competition.
  • Dependence on energy drinks.  Being over-caffeinated will not assist your studying.  You will be stressed, irritable, and jittery.  Beware of mixing these beverages with medications or alcohol. 

Each person has individual stressors that should also be avoided as much as possible: certain people, chores, travel routes, etc.  Be aware of your stressors and plan ways to minimize or eliminate them. (Amy Jarmon)

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