Address the Stress
Stress is any demand placed on your brain or body. A certain amount of stress is normal and can often help you overcome challenges. But too much stress can be both physically and mentally detrimental. It takes control and starts to have a negative effect. Pay attention to how your body and mind respond to stressful situations, acknowledge what you are feeling, deal with it, and take back control. Recognizing you are stressed is the easy part. Dealing with it takes a little work. Here are a few tips to help you address the stress:
- Stop making this a competition. It doesn’t matter if you’ve completed 24% of the commercial bar prep assignments and your friend is at 29%. It doesn’t matter if your friend is creating flash cards and you’re not. Stop trying to win the bar exam. Comparing yourself to others is stressful. Focus on your progress and don’t worry about everyone else.
- Focus on the process, not the product. You don’t know the material yet so stop trying to answer questions from memory. Use your notes and outlines to answer questions and learn in context. You will go off-note in July when your brain has had time to process the material.
- Protect your productive time. I don’t want you stressing out because you’ve been *studying* since 9am and are still at it at midnight. If other people are interrupting you, there’s an easy solution: Move. You are not a tree. What is more difficult is to stop interrupting yourself. Studying for the bar is not fun so there is always something you’d rather do. I fully acknowledge there is a lot going on in the world but do you need to know right this second? Use a timer to track your billable study hours. Every time you stop studying, stop the clock. It won’t take long to see if you are truly protecting your productive time.
- Take care of yourself. Eat right and exercise. You don’t have to go on a juice cleanse or work out 4 hours a day. Taking care of yourself means drinking a glass of water, eating an apple or carrot every now and then, going for a walk around the block during study breaks. Give it a try and I promise you’ll be amazed at how much more energy and focus you have.
- Go to bed early. Go to bed before midnight and get 7-8 hours of sleep. I don’t mean get in bed and watch videos until 2am. I mean: Go. To. Bed. No electronics. Head on pillow. Eyes closed. Sleep makes an enormous difference in being able to manage stressful situations. It gives your body the defenses to fight disease. No one wants to get sick during bar prep.
- Avoid external stressors. If someone stresses you out because of their attitude, competitiveness, panic, etc. then stay away from that person. You can use the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech and (nicely) say that you are having trouble studying/focusing and are going to find another place to study.
- Believe in yourself. Enough said.