If you’re reading this post, you’re probably a few weeks into bar study and already feeling the pressure mounting. I mean you knew this would be a stressful process, but you can’t possibly envision how you will survive the next few weeks. You’re not even halfway into the process and your stress levels have already surpassed anything you experienced in law school. If you’re experiencing these thought patterns I assure you that you’re not alone. However, it’s crucial that you recognize that you’re stressed and deal with it head on as opposed to pushing it to the side and risking an all-out crisis close to the exam. As you address this stressful period in your life, it may be helpful for you to apply whatever stress relief techniques you used in law school. Think back to finals season. What did you do during that time frame that allowed you to maintain your sanity? However, if you never really applied stress relief techniques during law school or just cruised through the last three years without breaking a sweat, I’ve got you covered. Here are eight things you can do to eliminate your bar prep stress:
1. Write your Schedule Down, Don’t Store it in Your Brain
One of the first things you can do to take some stress off your plate is to write your schedule on paper. Having your study schedule and your daily to-do list stored in your brain is only adding clutter to the wealth of information you’ve been adding during bar prep. Having your schedule stored in your brain also makes it appear unsurmountable. Thinking of all the things you have to do while trying to recall all the elements of a contract will only make you more stressed. So maybe you should try keeping your schedule on paper. It will definitely appear a lot more manageable, and it will also de-clutter your brain.
2. Schedule Breaks into your Study Schedule and Actually Take the Break You’ve Scheduled
Once you begin transferring your schedule to paper, be sure to also schedule some study breaks. I know you’re probably thinking how in the world can I afford to take a study break? I feel like I’ve learned nothing after a full 17-hour day of work. Well, that’s the problem. If you’re studying for a full 17 hours without taking a break, there will come a point when your brain will stop processing information and that’s why you feel like you’ve learned nothing even after a long day of work. Your brain needs rest and by scheduling at least two to three 30 minute breaks throughout your day, this will help your brain to process information more efficiently. Additionally, by scheduling your breaks, you will feel a lot less guilty taking them.
Once you’ve scheduled your study breaks, actually take them! I know the whole bar study process is riddled with guilt. You’re probably telling yourself that you don’t deserve the break because you only got two questions right out of the last 30 question set you completed. But trust me, you will especially need a break after that blow. So try taking a break and then do another 30 question set. Something tells me you’ll do a lot better once your brain is re-fueled.
3. Read/Listen to Something Inspirational
Another way to ease your stresses is to read/listen to something inspirational. Bar prep can be mentally exhausting and after doing poorly on multiple quizzes or missing the main points on your graded essays, you’ll need something to lift your spirits. So take a moment during one of your breaks to remind yourself why this process is worth it and that you will get through it. If you’re spiritual/religious, this is the perfect opportunity to rely upon teachings within your core beliefs to keep you grounded. You may not have the time to read an entire book during your breaks, but maybe you could try a short podcast or video.
4. Create a Vision Board/Vision List
Another way to de-stress is to create a vision board/list of the major changes you would like to see in your life over the next few years. Vision boards have worked wonders for some of the most successful people in the world. There’s no reason why it should be any different for you. In fact, right at the beginning of my bar prep process, I created a vision board in which I included passing the bar as one of my goals. It was an awesome experience to see my passing score and some of my other goals come to life right before my eyes. Also, creating the board in and of itself is definitely a therapeutic process. This shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to put together, so maybe use one of your breaks to do so.
5. Go to the Gym
Going to the gym works wonders for stress relief so be sure to schedule at least a 30-minute cardio break during the day. Don’t want to take a gym break? That’s fine, the gym is a perfect opportunity for you to use your flashcards or review one of your short outlines. So you can use the gym as an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.
6. Change your Diet
It goes without saying that you need to be eating healthy during bar prep. However, I know how difficult it can be to prepare a healthy meal as opposed to just grabbing something from a fast food drive thru. However, an unhealthy diet can be a major contributor to high-stress levels. So, since it may be difficult for you to do a complete diet change, how about making some minor changes that can help to curb your stress? Like maybe instead of having ten cups of coffee a day, how about having just one cup in the morning and then drinking green tea throughout your day instead? If you want some additional stress relief diet ideas, click here.
7. Get Eight Hours of Sleep
Getting a full eight hours of sleep is probably the best thing you can do to keep stress at bay. You could consider scheduling a hard stop time for your daily studies and ensure that this time will allow you to get a full eight hours of sleep.
8. Avoid Stressful People/Situations
During bar prep, I found that nothing stressed me out more than other bar prep takers. I remember being on the cusp of several panic attacks when other students told me about the high score they received on the quiz I just bombed. So, at that point, I learned very quickly to avoid those people. I began studying at a more secluded location that would allow me to not bump into those people, and I only surrounded myself with my friends who kept me calm and uplifted during the process. So, if you find yourself around people or in situations that have increased your anxiety, avoid them as best as you can!