It’s that time again–exams (ick)

During law school I always found the month of November to be bittersweet—sweet because of the thanksgiving holiday break (time to eat, catch one’s breath, and MAYBE catch up on homework!), bitter because exams were just around the corner.  It was easy to feel the added tension; sometimes the library seemed like a claustrophobic submarine!

 I’ll put on my “mom” hat, and offer my pointers for dealing with the stress of reading period and exams:

  • Eat regularly, and choose healthy food and drink.  Nourishment is important to brain functioning, and limiting caffeine, alcohol and sugar is important physically and mentally.
  • Get enough rest.  You will not be efficient or think clearly if you are tired and rundown.
  • Try to get at least some exercise, even if it’s walking up and down the tower stairs.  Exercise releases endorphins, which produce a sense of well-being (and are natural pain killers).
  • The key to success in law school is not to pull constant all nighters in the library!  I know of no one who has done well this way.
  • Don’t hang around people who just stress you out.  It’s fine to study alone, if that’s your style, or in a smaller group, if works best for you. 
  • Don’t feel that you are strange or weird if you seem stressed but other law students don’t seem to show it.  Trust me—most students are anxious and feel stress around exams. You’re not alone.
  • Be good to yourself.  Take time to do something relaxing and, yes, even fun!  See a movie; watch a tv show; listen to music.  (My current favorite group for relaxing music is the Kings of Convenience).  Treat yourself well.  The emotional benefit you’ll get is worth the time spent, and you’ll feel more energized to tackle studying.
  • Pay attention to signs that stress or anxiety is becoming unmanageable and harmful.  Are you sleeping too much?  Sleeping too little?  Can’t get out of bed?  Crying most of the time?  Can’t focus at all?  BU and the city of Boston have great, confidential, counseling resources for helping when stress and anxiety become overwhelming.  Call the BU Clinic (617/353-3569) or Massachusetts Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (617/482-9600).  And their services are free.  The counselors work with many law students, and they understand what you are going through.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

 Hang in there and know that I’m thinking of you! 

All the best, Dean Chris Marx