As an entering 1L, you already know how to succeed academically, and are constantly receiving advice on how to ace your classes. However, there is minimal advice on how to manage law school with your life. Everyone talks about the work-life balance, but what about the school-life balance?
Here are some tips to achieve a healthy, active, and balanced life as a 1L and throughout law school
When I first heard of meal prep, I scoffed at the idea. I’m in my twenties. I do not have a family to feed. However, meal prep is ideal for a busy student with little time to spare. I pick a Saturday or Sunday to do my meal prep, as I have the least going on during the weekend. Whether you choose to do meal prep because you want to save money, eat healthier, or enjoy a good meal even on your busiest days, there are a lot of benefits. Preparing your meals in advance will save you money because you will not be tempted to walk or drive down the street to buy a quick meal. Meal prepping is also a smart choice if you are trying to make healthier choices or lose weight. After a full day of classes and studying, we raid our kitchens and look for any type of nourishment to revive our depleted bodies, but in the moment we reach for the quickest things to eat, which are also the most unhealthy. However, by meal prepping earlier in the week, you already have a meal ready to warm up and eat. Moreover, after a long day the last thing anyone wants to do is cook a meal, so it is always nice to come home to a home-cooked meal, even if it is delayed by a thirty second microwave warm-up. One final benefit of meal prepping is being able to bring the food to school if your law school offers refrigerators, so that you can stay through lunch or dinner to continue studying.
Whether you love or hate exercising, as law students it is impossible to find the time. I used to have that mentality too, but soon realized that I could absolutely find twenty, or even thirty minutes, a day to exercise. As a student, you need to have the mentality that exercise will actually benefit your studies, instead of seeing it as a distraction to your studies. Exercise benefits your academic performance because it helps you to be more energized and lowers your stress. The most important thing to do with regard to keeping your exercise routine, is to convince yourself to exercise for one month, as it takes thirty days to form a new habit. Thus, if you include exercise in your daily schedule for thirty days, you will be highly likely to continue exercising all semester. It is also important to choose the type of exercise that matches you, as you will undoubtedly stop exercising if you do not enjoy it. I love exercising outdoors, such as hiking, walking, or biking. It would take too long to drive to the foothills for a decent hike, so I opt for a park near my house. I do between two to four miles at the park everyday. Depending on how I feel during my walk, I may use the time to relax, call a friend or family member, or check my social media accounts and my email. Ideally, it would be best to set a schedule in which you exercise at the same time every day, but as a law student your obligations change daily, so at least attempt to plan when you will exercise a day ahead. Therefore, if you know that you are meeting a friend at the library at 6pm, which is when you normally exercise, then wake up thirty minutes to an hour earlier to get your exercise in for the day. You are undoubtedly going to have days in which you are so overloaded and stressed that you cannot spare a second to exercise, and that is understandable, so allow yourself two days a week to take a pass. Also, going to the gym is not always feasible because we are so limited on time, but there is no excuse not to exercise at home. For example, if I only have twenty minutes to exercise I will do each exercise 100 times in my living room, so 100 squats, 100 lunges, 100 sumo squats, 100 mountain climbers, and alternate each one until I reach 100 of each. You can easily do yoga, free weights, or a use a stability ball at home. However, even if you do not own any equipment, there are endless exercises that only require your own bodyweight. Also, use Instagram and youtube to find new inspiration and new exercise routines.
Maintaining your friendships and having a support system will be vital to your success in law school. However, your relationships are going to change entirely throughout law school, and you need to ensure that you communicate with your friends to let them know that you are going to see them less than you used to. Let them know that it is nothing personal, and that they are still extremely important to you. Once you are engrossed in law school, you are going to be humored when thinking back to how you ever considered yourself busy in college. If many of your friends are from college, they will not be able to grasp how much more demanding your law school studies are, and the pressure to read the material each and every night to be prepared.
If you wish to maintain your friendships, the best way to ensure that you make time for your friends on a consistent basis is to schedule time for them. Make plans in advance and write it into your planner or your phone, as if it is an appointment. You are much more likely to continue to see your friends once a week or every other week if you make plans versus thinking that you will reach out to them when you are free. If you attempt to make plans at the last minute it is likely that your friend will have other plans, or you will have convinced yourself to just stay in, catch up on your favorite tv show, and relax. Granted as students, we all need time to ourselves to relax and decompress from a stressful week, but hanging out with friends is one of the best ways to de-stress and enjoy the limited time you have outside of law school. It is also important to maintain your friendships so that you have a support system to call when you are stressed and need motivation.