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Managing Unhealthy Habits in Law School

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

Law school can be a demanding and stressful time for many students. Balancing coursework alongside extracurricular activities and personal life can be challenging and many students find themselves turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, these coping mechanisms can have negative consequences on mental and physical health, as well as academic performance. Here are some strategies for addressing unhealthy coping mechanisms in law school:

1. Recognise the signs of an unhealthy coping mechanism.

The first step in addressing unhealthy coping mechanisms is to recognize the signs that you may be using them. Whilst coping mechanisms look different for everyone, this may include withdrawing from social activities and relationships, not eating properly, or even resorting to substance abuse like alcohol. It is important to be honest with yourself about the ways in which you are managing stress, and to identify whether these coping mechanisms are unhealthy or ineffective.

2. Identify the triggers.

Once you have recognized the signs of unhealthy coping mechanisms, the next step is to identify the triggers that may be contributing to these behaviours. Common triggers can include academic pressure, social isolation, or other personal problems. Identifying the triggers of unhealthy behaviour is important to developing strategies to overcome harmful coping mechanisms.

3. Implement self-care strategies.

Taking care of our mental health is just as important as taking care of our physical health. Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, or exercising regularly can contribute positively to reducing stress.

4. Seek help.

If you are struggling with unhealthy coping mechanisms, it may be helpful to seek advice or professional help. This might include seeing a counsellor on campus who can help you develop strategies for coping with stress in a healthy way and address underlying mental health issues, like anxiety or depression.

5. Build a support system.

Another key strategy for addressing unhealthy coping mechanisms is to build a support system. This might include friends, family, or classmates who can offer emotional support and encouragement when you need it.

6. Practice time management

Finally, it is helpful to practice time management in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed and turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Developing a routine or schedule for studying that includes time for your other hobbies can help set realistic goals and assist you in prioritizing your time effectively. By managing your time effectively, you can reduce stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Law school can be a stressful and challenging time, and it is not uncommon for students to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms to manage the pressure. However, there are strategies that can be used to address these behaviours and develop healthier coping mechanisms, which will have a positive impact on your mental health. While it may seem like sacrificing things is necessary to keep up with the demands of law school, neglecting these other things can lead to mental exhaustion and poor academic results as unhealthy coping mechanisms can ultimately do more harm than good.

By recognising the signs of engaging in unhealthy coping mechanisms, identifying triggers, practicing self-care, seeking help, building a support system, and practicing time management, you can develop the tools required to navigate law school in a healthy way. Taking care of your mental and physical health will set you up for success both in and outside of law school.

Written by Monica Turcinov

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