Are you burned out from…everything? You went to law school during a pandemic, lived through lockdown and constant uncertainties. Not only was this experience mentally taxing, but you were also trying to succeed as a law student. Despite the circumstances, law school continued along with the expectations to perform and adapt to a different model of learning online or a hybrid model. In these stressful times, 3Ls were proceeding with studying for the next bar exam administration, while feeling on the edge about whether to prep for an in-person or remote exam. If you were maintaining a job, you likely faced a lot of change and stress in a short time as our jobs shifted to remote working and telecommunication. Many of us endured a lot of stress without being able to get the support we needed because of social distancing.
Burnout is becoming all too common among law students and legal professionals. In fact, a recent ABA article highlighted how the weight from adjusting to online learning, isolation, anxiety and exhaustion can be to attributed to a drop in the July 2021 bar exam passage rates.
If you are feeling as though you have no fuel left in the tank, you may be experiencing burnout. If you think you are already there, you may need tips on how to get back to great health. Alternatively, if you can see that you are headed downward, take this chance to pump the breaks.
Have you been experiencing some of the symptoms of burnout? While this is not an exhaustive list, some of the emotional and/or physical burnout symptoms may include:
- Mood swings
- Feeling unmotivated
- Feelings of anxiety
- Losing your temper
- Feeling defeated and/or unaccomplished
- Feeling drained
- Body pain
- Constant exhaustion or fatigue
- Disruption in sleep
- Changes in appetite
If you think you may be affected by burnout— you are not alone!
Burnout not only gets in the way of your academic success, but it is harmful to your health if it goes ignored. Here are tips to overcome burnout:
1. Don’t ignore the symptoms
If you are feeling the symptoms above, your body is likely signaling to you that it needs to take a break. Some of us want to think we are superhuman and do not need to pause and take care of ourselves. But self-care is a sign of strength and taking a break is just as important as studying. It may seem easier to “push through” and push past what you need so that you can get a few more items checked off your to-do list. Most concerning is that if you don’t take care of yourself now, the problem may become more chronic, and more like a burnout lifestyle which will not serve you in the long run.
2. Get the support you need
Reach out to friends, loved ones, and your mentors for support and inspiration. Some may have been there as well and can offer the advice you need. Consider getting mental health help as well. Access to care can be immediate these days with apps that can instantly connect you to a mental health professional via a messaging app.
3. Prioritize rest and relaxation
If you are in overload, you need some good old rest. Take any deadlines and pressures off yourself and sleep in, take naps, stretch, meditate—anything that makes you feel rested and relaxed.
4. Set boundaries
Assess whether there are unnecessary pressures that you can minimize or remove altogether. Perhaps you need to have a chat with family members about your workload and needs, or to cut back on other commitments that are digging into critical time for rest or causing you added stress. Boundaries are not just with people or with your work but can also be with your devices. Be sure to cut yourself off from being on your phone when it’s close to your bedtime.
5. Empower yourself
You have the power to decide how you spend your time and energy. Being more mindful and intentional about the ways you expend your energy can prevent you from feeling that life is out of control. Instead, shifting the power back to yourself will empower you to decide. The next time you feel pressured to do something, you can ask yourself if it is immediate or urgent and make the right call for you.
Remember that your health and well-being come first. If you are seeing that you are burned out or are headed in that direction, don’t delay in taking the steps to overcome it and get back to the best version of yourself!