Dealing with Stress

Today’s topic is about an important subject: stress and stress management.  Stress is one of those things that doesn’t need a definition or a Wikipedia entry – everyone knows what it is and knows how they feel when they are stressed, especially law school students at the tail end of the semester before finals.

Stress Reduction” by The Roaming Picture Taker is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Hobbies

Hobbies can be a wonderful form of escapism if one puts in a little time.  Not only that, but undertaking hobbies can activate areas of the brain that may not be stimulated by a casebook or hypos.  My two main hobbies are guitar and photography.  Some things I like about guitar is it pulls me into a mindset where the only things that matter are the melody, the sound, and the transition to the next note or song.  Photography I enjoy as well because of my focus on landscape photography, which is also a great excuse to get outside away from the books and screens and get some sun.  There’s always the old faithfuls like movies and video games too.  If not into any of those, YouTube and the internet can teach you just about anything you want to know these days.  Origami? Crochet? Cooking? The internet’s got you.  Cooking is my own personal favorite “hobby du jour”…I’ve finally reached a place where I prefer my own cooking to eating out sometimes, and it’s cheaper! Below is a picture of the Atlanta skyline I took this week with some quick and dirty edits, didn’t have much time to shoot or edit but even 30 mins felt wonderful:

Iconic Jackson Street Bridge view, a panorama of two images taken with a black and white camera in the infrared spectrum. Copyright T.C. Deveau 2023, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

Exercise

Maybe not the most popular or most fun of the stress-managers, exercise definitely should have a place in everyone’s daily routine…or at least weekly routine.  It can be physically exhausting but a little sweat and endorphins can be great for one’s mental state.  My first “run” at grad school I took up running, which ended up being fantastic.  Got me outside and thinking about things that weren’t school….plus it doesn’t cost any money to just go outside and run.  Atlanta has lots to offer here if one is so inclined (please excuse the running pun, you’ll learn how “inclined” (or hilly) the city is if you ever start running)..  Sure there are gyms and yoga studios all over the place, but there’s so much more around here as well.  There’s the Beltline, where one can get out and walk or bike…same with the Silver Comet Trail.  The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is another great place to get outside and walk, run, bike, kayak, float, etc (parking passes are also only $40/year, one of the best deals around).  Cochran Shoals and the bamboo grove off the East Palisades trail are two of my favorite spots. Sope Creek is another great spot.  There are plenty of sports leagues around too for adults (some more serious than others) if you’re feeling the itch for team sports.  If one feels so inclined to get out of the city a little, there’s also the North Georgia Mountains (and the start of the Appalachian Trail) if one wants to get out and hike and camp.  

Food and Drink

Everyone loves food and drink, right?  Atlanta is a great food town with great restaurants across the metro area.  

Can’t make up your mind?  The food court is making a comeback and coming back fast.  Krog Street Market, Ponce City Market, Sweet Auburn Market, Chattahoochee Food Works, Ph’East (at the Battery), Politan Row at Colony Square – all of these food courts (er, um, markets) provide a little something for everyone with tastier food and more variety than the mall food courts we all grew up with.  

Atlanta is also having its “live-work-play” moment, and one can even combine food and drink with other activities like sports, retail, movie theaters (remember those?) and the like.  The Battery, Avalon, Halcyon, Atlantic Station, Streets of Buckhead, Ponce City Market – all of these locations have a little something for everyone.

There’s also no shortage of watering holes around town either.  From Decatur to Kirkwood, Dunwoody to Marietta, and southwest Atl as well, there are plenty of bars and breweries one can go to relax as well.  Many of these spots offer things like trivia nights as well, which are a great excuse to go and socialize.

Friends and Family

Saving the best for last…last but not least, don’t forget to make time for your friends and family.  Yes, making time for friends and family will leave less time to finish that brief that’s due in three days, but the gain in emotional capital often makes the sacrifice of time worth it.  Please do lean on your friends and family to help support you when you feel stressed.  At the very least, remember that when you apply to take the bar exam, you’ll have to add references to your Character and Fitness application.  So if you need an excuse to hang out with your friends one night you think you should be doing work, keeping your friends in your life will make this portion or the bar exam application easy…and it’s good for your mental health.

So there it is.  A little bit about stress in a nutshell.  For context, we must also keep in mind that law school is certainly a marathon and not a sprint.  Stress and stress management are behemoths of topics.  Identifying when stress gets in the way of you being you and helping to manage it though will have a tremendous payout, and it’s never too early (or too late) to get working on this if you haven’t already developed your own stress management strategies.

Finally, to minimize stress, try to avoid major life changes during law school…if one can.  I get it.  We’re all here because we’re overachievers on some level, but a lot of life changes and decisions actually can wait until after school is done.  No, no one is getting younger as time goes on and life never really ever gets “simpler” as time goes on, but waiting until school is done to undertake major life decisions is not a bad idea (if it can be managed). 

Best of luck to all of you as you undertake your studies.  Things will get stressful, but, as always…you got this.   

Resources:

GSU Counseling Services – don’t be ashamed to reach out for help if dealing with stress gets too much, the school has a counseling center to help out.

If you’re experiencing an acute emergency resulting from stress, the suicide and crisis management hotline can also be found by dialing 988.