Nightly Routine to Destress

As a self-professed self-care queen, I wanted to do a post about a few tips that I have for managing stress at this point in the semester. It’s hard to believe that this is my fourth semester of law school, and although I was honestly in a state of non-stop stress during 1L, regardless differences in the workload as a 2L, there is always a noticeable point in the semester where things begin to ramp up a bit more. For me personally, that’s happening right now. The third draft of my note is due in about two weeks, I have a huge source-tech check due for my journal on Sunday night, and I’m also streamlining my outlines for exams. It’s definitely not the most fun time in the semester, and since I definitely did not / could not carve out time to balance my stress out during 1L, I wanted to give a few tips for easy ways to do so. This is my current nightly routine that I use to wind down from the day and it’s really working for me, so I thought I’d share:

  1. Wear Blue Light Blocking Glasses: When I can (i.e. not on weekends), I start wearing these glasses from when the sun sets onward. I got a pair on Amazon for $15 and they essentially block the blue light that emanates from laptop screens, phone screens, and televisions from disrupting your circadian rhythm. When your eyes are exposed to this light at times when the sun isn’t actually out, it signals to your body that it’s still daytime, and disrupts your sleep. I definitely notice myself get a bit drowsier at night that I used to when I would be doing homework late at night. They’re an easy and affordable way to treat your body right.
  2. Epsom Salt Baths: This might sound luxurious to some, but I used to take Epsom Salt baths prior to law school, and I’m pretty sure I only took one during the entirety of 1L.  I’ve now incorporated them back into my nightly routine and am loving it. Epsom Salts are a great source of magnesium, which most of us are deficient in, and a few nights a week I’ll take a 15 minute bath and add a few drops of essential oils (sweet orange is my favorite). If I have time and really need it, I’ll also put a face mask on. These may sound a bit out there for people, but I love it. I’ll either put music or a Podcast on in the background and completely decompress. You can pick up Epsom Salts at nearly any drug store or get them online.
  3. Reading for Pleasure: For me, reading a fiction book before bed is the epitome of happiness. Even if it’s just 2 pages of a book, it’s sometimes enough for me. I’m not a Kindle person at all, but I love getting in bed with a good hardcover book and escaping into a story about someone else’s life. It doesn’t require hours of your time – you can literally read for 10 minutes and it will likely get you a bit more tired and ready for sleep. Books are my love language, and I hardly read at all for pleasure during 1L. 2L has been better in terms of carving out time for this, but I am by no way tearing through novels weekly – sometimes all I need is just a few minutes. I also highly recommend the “Sleep” playlist on Spotify for this time of the day.
  4. Meditate, Meditate, Meditate: I talk about this a lot to anyone who will listen, but mediation has been a game changer for me. I’m sure I’ve written about it in blog posts in the past, but I started about 3 or 4 years ago and it’s a great way to bring your body out of the constant state of fight-or-flight that many of us face in the modern world, especially during law school. [Side bar: Do you notice yourself holding your breath a lot? I had never realized how much I did this until I started meditating. Also fun fact, the only reason why your voice shakes in class during a cold call is because you’re holding your breath and there’s not enough breath to support your voice. The best fix for this is to take a deep inhale from your diaphragm and then exhale.] As for a regular meditation practice for combatting stress, it doesn’t have to be fancy or require hours of your time. One of my absolute favorite meditations is the 10 minute “Sleep” set from the Headspace App. Even if you don’t have time to meditate in the mornings, it’s a great way to wind down before bed and get more restful sleep. Another easy way to incorporate more meditation or breath work in to your routine is to just take a few deep breaths on your commute. I do this whenever I’m on the T and think of it. The best way to lower your heart rate is to do an inhale from your diaphragm, and then a longer exhale (the longer the exhale, the more restorative the breath will be!).
  5. Sleep Generally: I did not sleep nearly enough during 1L which was partially unavoidable, but as a 2L, especially this semester, I’ve prioritized my 7 to 8 hours a night as a non-negotiable. Sleep is a time where the body restores itself from the day, digests, and repairs your cells. It’s kind of magic when you think of it that way and an great opportunity for your body to reset itself and recover from stress. I have never been a person who is impressed by people who brag about only getting 5 hours of sleep in an effort to show how “productive” they are. In my opinion, the best way to be productive is to treat your body right so that your brain can work at its optimal level. For the most part, I’m dedicated to my 11pm – 7am sleep routine, and I really savor it after being sleep deprived last year – where I definitely did not feel as sharp as I would have had I gotten enough sleep. This goes without saying, but everyone needs a different amount of sleep to feel their best – this is about finding what works for you and honoring that.

I hope that these tips were helpful to anyone who read! They’ve all been game changers for me and I don’t think there’s enough dialogue about the easy ways that we can treat ourselves better each day in the world that we live in.

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