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In the middle of your very own hell (a grueling bar-study session)?
Let's skip the talk about how this is a rite of passage, a required test to take for anyone who wants to practice law, blah, blah, blah. Instead, let's focus on the present and the grueling reality that is your life right now.
Aside from tedious black-letter law that seems impossible to retain and pointless mnemonic devices, what do you need to know? Well, you need to stay sane. Your mental health is crucial, and you don't want to burn out too soon. This means that you should still be seeking out necessary breaks, and often. Here are five ways to help you de-stress:
1. Watch a movie, or zone out in front of the TV. Even when you're sleeping, it's hard for your thoughts to not subconsciously grind away at the anxiety and pressures that the bar brings upon many of us. A good way to escape that is to seriously just veg out -- put on a movie or an episode, or two, of your favorite, trashy indulgent TV show, settle in, and just give your mind a rest. Also, to remind it that, hey, it could be worse. You could be one of the emasculated Kardashian men.
2. Puppies. If law schools are bringing in batches of sweet puppies to help de-stress before finals, then why not puppies for the ultimate final? Snuggle up with your furry BFF, if you're lucky enough to have one, or even play with a friend's during a break. The warmth and unconditional love from an adorable furry little love bundle will instantly, or at least temporarily, melt away your concerns. If not that, it's at least a reminder that you are still loved. Bonus: You don't have to worry about pooper scooper duty because you have the ultimate excuse of studying for the bar.
3. Exercise. It may not seem like there's time to hit the gym as often as you did before, but exercise is a key factor when it comes to stress management. Try going for a quick run, or even just taking a walk around the block or two, and you'll amp up those endorphins while shedding away some tensions in your body and brain.
4. Remind a non-law student friend or family member that you're alive. You may have made the necessary decision to become a social recluse, but it might help to see a loved one you haven't seen for a while. Again, staying sane is crucial. Break away from the bubble of other stressed-out JDs and check in with the folks in the outside world. If anything, it's a reminder that you'll have something to look forward to when the test is over: friends, again!
5. Eat. No, not emotionally or junk foods. There are tons of healthy foods that can actually help to relieve stress. Bonus: You won't come out of the bar looking like you ate your roommate in a fit of stress-eating everything in sight.
Editor's Note, February 18, 2015: This post was first published in June 2013. It has since been updated.