Stress

Would it help you to know that some stress is good for you, that it can boost learning? No? That's cool. We get it. You're stressed and you're looking for solutions. Try the following:


For immediate relief


Know Your Pattern

You know yourself pretty well. You know what causes you stress and you know what you usually do to respond. Take a few minutes to identify your stress triggers and responses. Be specific. Tang has a list of common stressors and responses for graduate students and undergrads.

Now think about how you usually deal with stress. If you respond to stress by drinking more alcohol; escaping into television, video games or the web for long mindless stretches; overeating, or bingeing on sugar, caffeine and junk food; fasting; procrastinating; skipping sleep; berating yourself; or lashing out at others, it's time to rethink your strategies.

Unhealthy strategies create more stress and undermine your health, relationships, and work. Use some of the suggestions on this page to disrupt bad habits and redirect your energy toward healthy responses and long term self-care.


Practice Self-Care

Self-care is a major part of stress management, so if you haven't already, start there. In addition to the self-care strategies of healthy eating, exercise, adequate sleep, and time spent with friends and family, Tang recommends:

  • Optimism
  • Time management
  • Relaxation
  • Humor, laughter
  • Generosity
  • Playfulness
  • Spirituality
  • Journaling
  • Sex
  • Forgiveness (of self and others)
  • Creative activities
  • Meditation
  • Music
  • Hot bath
  • Prayer
  • Set reasonable limits
  • Positive and realistic self-talk
  • Control only what's controllable--accept the rest

Ask for Help

Part of dealing with stress is controlling what you can and letting go of the rest. None of us can control the future, but we can take steps to deal with our concerns before they make us miserable. Often, a single step toward addressing a problem is enough to put it back into perspective and regain a sense of control. You don't have to do it alone. We're here to help:
  • Student Services is located at 280 Simon Hall. Drop by or call us at 510.643.2744 to make an appointment.
  • Dr. Linda Zaruba is Boalt's dedicated psychologist. Call 510.643.5447 or email zaruba@berkeley.edu for an appointment.
  • For better time management think through your schedule and try these techniques.
  • The Academic Support Program can help you with transitioning to law school, outlining, and preparing for exams. Contact Kristen Holmquist, Director of the Academic Support Program in 340B Boalt Hall (North Addition) if you have questions. Her phone number is 510.643.2674. If you're concerned about a particular class, contact the professor directly.
  • The Career Development Office (CDO) is located in 290 Simon Hall. They have extensive job search materials and counselors available to discuss your concerns. 510.642.4567
  • The Financial Aid Office is located at 2850 Telegraph Ave. (a free shuttle service is available to take you there M-F 7:35 am to 5 pm). Call 510.642.1563 or email for an appointment.
  • The Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) is also located at 2850 Telegraph. Call 510.642.7697 or email lrap@law.berkeley.edu for an appointment with Leah Sime.
  • UHS Tang at 2222 Bancroft Ave. can help you with concerns about your physical or mental health. Call 510.642.2000 or make an appointment online.
  • Tang also has general info and resources for dealing with financial stress including a link to online budgeting and financial planning tips
  • Disabled Students Program (DSP) 510.642.0518.  DSP can help with academic support services (such as readers, note takers, or sign language interpreters), attendant referral, and housing assistance. Many other services are available, and most are free. Contact Kim Natividad at 510.664.4973 or TDD 510.642.6376 or visit the DSP website for more information
  • Gender Equity Resource Center (GenEq) 510.642.5730 GenEq can help with information and resources regarding sexual assault, relationship violence, hate crimes, and bias-related incidents, particularly for women and the LGBT community.  GenEq can also discuss the steps to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).


Finally

Cultivate self-compassion. None of us is perfect or prescient so be kind to yourself


Additional Resources

The Boalt Disability Law Society has created a quick list of who to call when you're having a bad day. Download it and share for easy reference.

If your weekly schedule is contributing to your stress, Cornell has advice on Time Management for Right Brained People (Or What to do if to-do lists are not your style).

More on the science of and solutions to stress from Robert Sapolsky.

See also, Debra S. Austin's Killing them Softly: Neuroscience Reveals How Brain Cells Die from Law School Stress and How Neural Self-Hacking Can Optimize Law School Performance (August 29, 2013). 59 LOY. L. REV. (Winter 2014, Forthcoming); U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-12.

A brief word on the benefits of taking a break, and recent scientific findings on what makes for a meaningful life.

The Berkeley Initiative for Mindfulness in Law (BIML) promotes meditation and mindfulness practice within the legal community. BIML conducts weekly meditation at the law school. They also have a resource page with additional readings and a list of meditation communities in the Bay Area.