Friday, November 16, 2018
During the demands of final papers, exam review, and practice questions, it is very easy to become so focused on intellectual "in your head" matters that all other aspects become blurs. Classmates who are typically collegial can become overly competitive. Intellectual discussions can degenerate into power struggles to show who is superior and always right. Unintended insults, judgmental put-downs, and clipped responses reflect the stress of the semester as students speak without thinking.
Students handle the end-of-semester stress in differing ways. They can either give in to negativity or persevere with positivity. By taking intentional steps, it is possible to stay personally positive and contribute to a positive environment for others. Our thoughts and actions can build our resilience, grit, calm, and focus.
- Count your blessings. As a law student, you have the privilege of gaining professional skills that will make a significant difference in the lives of your clients in the future. You will be their hope in crises and injustice. You will be someone's hero many times over your career.
- Make a list of encouraging quotes, scriptures, or sayings to read first thing in the morning and last thing at night. These positive affirmations will frame your mindset at both ends of the day.
- Model collegiality for your classmates: offer your class notes to a student who has been ill; share information about a good study aid; explain a legal concept to a confused classmate; compliment a classmate on a good in-class answer.
- Spread random acts of kindness throughout your day: hold the door for a classmate loaded down with books; buy a soda for the student behind you at the vending machine; smile and say good morning to a tired classmate; offer a slice of your pizza to someone with no lunch.
- Say "please" and "thank you" often throughout the day. And look the person in the eye when you do so. Politeness can get lost in the rush, but it is gold to those who are recognized in the process.
- At the end of the day, make a list of three things you did for others - however small they may be. Your humanity towards others will warm your heart and contribute to your outlook.
- Take care of yourself. Positive coping results from regular sleep every night, healthy food, and exercise. You are part of an academic marathon and not a sprint right now. Pace yourself.
- Take control of what you can control, and let the other things go. None of us is perfect. We can only do our best each day under that day's circumstances. The next day is a new start, and we can embrace that new start for it's possibilities.
- If you start to give in to the stress, get some help. Talk to family. Check in with a professor, dean, or ASP professional to get your perspective back and make a study plan.
Best wishes for the remainder of the semester. (Amy Jarmon)