Editor’s note: due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Boston College has moved all classes online and sent students home for the semester. The BC Law Impact blog has suspended its normal posting schedule, and bloggers are now focused on writing about the impact of the shutdown and the current state of the world on their academic and social experiences as law students. We are all in this together; let’s find our way through together.
The day after spring break, when the name “coronavirus” was barely on my radar, I received an email that my ballet classes were cancelled for the rest of the semester. “This is such an overreaction,” I thought, “hopefully I can get my money back.” I was disappointed because dance had been one creative outlet I’d relied on during tough academic semesters. I thought that as young and healthy dancers we could have easily worn masks or broken the class into smaller groups to limit the spread of germs. But I knew those in charge simply wanted to protect us from the spreading virus, so I comforted myself with “better safe than sorry.”
I heard “coronavirus” again the next day when my law school professors gently warned students that classes may be moved online if things get worse. “That seems extreme. Should that really be the first step?” I asked a classmate who then joked that we should have extended our spring vacation. Meanwhile the apocalyptic headlines rolled in: “Massachusetts Governor Declares State of Emergency,” “U.S. Cases of Coronavirus Surpass 1,000,” “Prepare for the Inevitable.” Facebook and Instagram posts from individuals pleading with people to “wash their hands” (people needed a reminder?!) and to “stay home if sick” (wise words) saturated my news feeds. But still, I was in denial of how serious the situation was. It had to mainly be media dramatization, right? BC would never cancel classes – certainly not for the whole semester.
“Wow, this is it,” I thought to myself as I stepped into the Law School for the first time since winter break. “My last semester as a student.” It’s true: I’m nearing the end of peaceful early morning library sessions, cold call induced anxiety, nights out with ambitious peers, and possibly the end of my time in Boston.
I’m looking forward to a new chapter of personal growth as a “real” adult, but before I move on I want to make the most of my remaining moments at BC Law. With this in mind, I put together a bucket list for my race to the finish line.
World Mental Health Day, celebrated annually on October 10th, is a day to bring awareness to mental health issues and for individuals to band together to promote mental wellness, improve public dialogue and care for those struggling with mental health issues. Today the BC Law community is rallying together to share other ways individuals cultivate joy, cope with stressors, and find perspective while in law school.
Unfortunately, a high-pressure environment along with a number of other stressors puts individuals in law school and in the legal field at risk for developing mental health issues such as anxiety, depression or substance abuse disorders. In fact, law students disproportionally struggle with mental health issues in comparison to the general population, as previously discussed in A Necessary Look at Mental Health in Law School and Out of Place? You’re Not Alone. Fortunately, Boston College offers professional help to those struggling with a mental health issue – no matter how small. (Links provided below this post).
Along with providing professional mental health services, it is especially important for law schools to promote mental wellness. According to the World Health Organization, mental wellness is defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Thus, mental wellness is not necessarily the absence of mental health issues, but rather is the presence of positive strategies and characteristics for handling life’s ups and downs.
It is possible to boost your mental wellness by finding ways to elevate your mood and increase your resilience. Four wellness-building techniques are described in Beat Your 2L Lull: Four Strategies for Success.
Below, members of the BC Law community share what they do to boost mental wellness in their daily lives. As you read, feel free to share what brings you joy or helps you manage stress by commenting below or adding #LawStudentWellness, #WorldMentalHealthDay and/or #IamBCLaw to your post on social media. And please share this post with friends.
Congratulations! You are over halfway finished with law school. You’ve made friends, are now fluent in legalese, and have thankfully avoided being crushed under your huge stack of textbooks. Still, you may also be feeling the 2L slump. The luster of 1L has worn off. Your classes are tough and substantive and post-grad life seems but a glimmer on the horizon. So, how can you push through the lull?
As a law student you are already familiar with hard work and discipline, but some of these tips might help you avoid getting stuck in a rut.
The pounding of your heart jolts you from your notepad. Your palms feel sweatier than normal and your throat is suddenly parched. Everyone is looking at you expectantly. But maybe you misheard? You hear your name again. “Ms. Craven? How does the ideology of the court affect this case?” Tough luck, you’re on! Continue reading
This is the second in a series of posts drawing attention to Law Student Mental Health Day. You can read our first post here. If you want to share your story with us about feeling out of place, send a few lines to firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the social media hashtag #fittingin.
It can be unbelievably daunting to ask for help. An environment where competition is paramount and the drive for success is all-encompassing makes help-seeking seem risky and shameful. Fear often paralyzes and dissuades so that many individuals don’t pursue help they need.
I was fearful my 1L year. I was fearful of imperfection and failure. I was fearful that admission of my difficulties would make them more real, would show that I was weak, and would indicate that I could not succeed in school or in my chosen career.
The strength of my urges to go for a run, take a nap, and drink wine indicate that I feel the stress of finals. Like every law student, I have always lusted for academic success, but the stress associated with law school finals is different than the other exams and competitions I have experienced. Since most law school courses are graded on a curve, I am uncomfortable estimating how I will perform on exams.
From coaches who trained me so I can now lift heavy books, to enthusiastic professors and my supportive parents, I have many people to thank for encouraging my journey to law school. I am blessed to have known people from all walks of life and have chosen this path to give back to those that have inspired me along the way. Specifically I would like to thank my older brother Nick for being my role model and teaching me the value of following my passions. He has always been there to push me, compete with me and give me honest advice. My brother has been my mainstay while I jumped the track from my athletic pursuit to this peculiar and unfamiliar legal education. After all, he understands the transition exactly. I certainly could not have made it this far without him.
When I first heard BC Law called “the Disneyland of law schools” during my 1L orientation, I was surprised. How can a law school – something that is grueling and competitive by nature—be likened to the widely proclaimed “happiest place on earth?” My only experience with law school was limited to the crazed mumblings of relatives in legal professions and of friends struggling through their own intensely cutthroat law school experiences. Before classes began I had been preparing myself to be swallowed by a writing-intensive version of the Hunger Games. “Keep your head on a swivel” was the sage warning from my dad as I set off on my new venture.
But I also found the Disney analogy comforting and personally appropriate. I recently retired from three years touring as a professional figure skater for Disney on Ice, where I had been actually living in this Disney dreamland. Disney was something familiar. I wanted to know more.