Sunday, March 20, 2016

How Students Can Develop Resiliency

Given the ups and downs of law school and life, we can succeed only if we are resilient. Can we develop resiliency. A recent post on Best Practices for Legal Education (March 8, 2016) looks to neuroscience and says yes. Here is how:

The secret lies in the connection between the frontal cortex—the brain’s manager, and the amygdala- the brain’s emotional center. A stronger connection means the frontal cortex is better able to control the amygdala and tell it to calm down. How to build that connection? Here are some simple tips:

  1. Face the things you fear, don’t run from them. This relaxes the fear circuit.
  2. Develop a strong network of social support. One study revealed that when people were exposed to a stressor in a lab, heart rate and blood pressure did not rise as much if they were with a friend or loved one, as opposed to receiving that news alone.
  3. Work the body’s muscles through exercise. This also builds resiliency in the brain because exercise spurs development of new neural pathways, which can replace those depleted by stress.
  4. Be mindful. A 2010 Harvard study showed people spend 47% of their day thinking about things other than what they are actually doing. There are myriad materials and apps available online-from simple breathing exercises to guided meditations.
  5. Reach for support when needed and share your true feelings.
  6. Don’t beat yourself up or dwell on the past. Pushing out the negative thoughts with positive ones can lead to dramatic reductions in stress and increases in resiliency.

True, I think, but hard to put into practice and even harder to effectively impart this advice to struggling students. But worth the effort. You can read more here.


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