Coping with stress in the final year
The final year of a law degree is typically a stressful one. Between juggling multiple final exams, writing a dissertation, preparing mentally for postgraduate life and transitioning from university to their career, law students nearing the end of their education often find themselves under a great deal of mental pressure.
Although a manageable amount of stress can be beneficial, too much pressure can reduce your ability to study effectively and think clearly. So what can a law student do to manage the increasing levels of stress that befall them during their final year?
- Talk to someone. Stress during final year is quite normal and others often feel the same way. Talking things out with those who understand can help you to feel less alone in your stress and relieve some of the pressure you may be feeling.
- Have realistic expectations. Try to balance school, work and leisure time as much as possible. Take it one day at a time—don’t expect to meet all your goals right away.
- Identify stress triggers. Does creating case outlines, writing papers or interacting with competitive peers make you feel stressed? Finding the source of your stress can help you change the way you react to it.
- Set some short-term targets. Interim goals that fit within your long-term strategies will allow you to recognise the progress that you are actually making.
- Practice self-care. Pay particular attention to your diet and sleep schedule, explore meditation and other relaxation techniques, get regular exercise, and avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine as much as possible.
- Manage your time wisely. Try to be organised and maintain an effective study environment.
Don’t wait until the stress becomes unmanageable. Rather than denying any anxiety you might be feeling, acknowledge it and try to reduce it.
Mental health advice
Consider taking advantage of LawCare, a mental-health service that supports UK law students and professionals. LawCare provides support and information to anyone in the legal community experiencing stress due to work, study or any other reason.
LawCare provides a free, independent and confidential helpline open Monday to Friday, staffed with people who have worked in law and understand the demands of a legal education. Webchat support and online factsheets addressing a number of mental-health-related topics are also available on the organisation’s website, along with stories from others who have faced similar struggles.
University mental-health services
Your university is also an excellent place to look for help if the stress ever becomes overwhelming. Universities are becoming increasingly aware of the need to look after students’ mental wellbeing, and it’s likely that your university will have more than one mental-health service you can make use of.
The vast majority of universities have their own in-house counselling service. It’s free, confidential and available to all students. Many universities also have a mental-health adviser that can help you decide on the kind of support you need and guide you on where to access it. Alternatively, most universities have information about the mental-health services they offer on their website.
If you’d prefer to speak to another student, many student unions run student-led counselling services. It can be helpful to have a chat with someone who understands exactly what you’re going through, even if they’re not qualified counsellors.
Finally, consider speaking to your tutor. After all, they’re there to make sure that your studies run as smoothly as possible, and they’ve certainly had experience dealing with stress in their studies. They’re are generally quite understanding, and they can give you advice on time management, organisation and studying for exams.
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LLB Final Years