Headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and feelings of exhaustion. I’m not talking about Covid; these are all negative side effects of stress. As law students, we are likely familiar with managing stress, especially during finals season. In the midst of the madness, there are a few consequences of stress that actually benefit us:
- Increased Productivity
When you’re about to hit that begin test button on Examplify and a knot forms in the pit of your stomach, it can actually be helpful. This is because moderate stress strengthens the neural connections in your brain which enhances memory and attention span, and increases productivity.
In a UC Berkeley study, researchers found intermittent stressful events caused stem cells in rat brains to proliferate into new nerve cells that improved the rats’ mental performance.
“You always think about stress as a really bad thing, but it’s not… Some amounts of stress are good to push you just to the level of optimal alertness, behavioral and cognitive performance.”Daniela Kaufer, associate professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley.
That explains why as a chronic procrastinator, the stress of an impending deadline is sometimes the only thing that can kick start getting my work done.
It is that time of year again.
While finals week always seems to creep up on me, I still find myself making the same unpleasant preparations at this time every year. I have deleted social media apps on my phone that I typically spend way too much time on, stocked up on coffee and snacks, and have told my friends and loved ones not to bother me for the next few weeks.
As I have begun to delve into yet another round of days studying followed by a sequence of hours-long tests, I find myself clinging on to the idea that this will all be over soon–that I just have to get through the next couple of weeks and then I can enjoy that post-finals joy.
So, as a reminder to myself that this is all temporary, or maybe just some needed motivation to continue on, I have collected a few students’ thoughts on their feelings post-finals. Enjoy and good luck everyone!
During the past spring semester, I authored a blog post about how I missed the free coffee served by the BC Law cafeteria during the final exam period. During my 1L fall semester, I relied on that free coffee like a car relies on gas or a legislative body relies on annoying words like “heretofore.” I may have broken even on my tuition costs with the way I consumed that free coffee during 1L finals.
Of course, I was missing the free on-campus coffee last spring because I was not, in fact, on campus. No one was, due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
During those early months, things were strange and unfamiliar. You could feel the tension in the air. No one quite knew how the virus would spread, how disruptive it would be, and how long it would rage. Here at BC Law, classes (rightfully, in my opinion) were shifted to pass/fail grading while students and professors acclimated to the remote learning format.
As the Impact blog covered earlier in the semester, BC’s decision to go pass/fail led to a flurry of responses and emotions. Some were disappointed by the inability to boost their GPAs, while others were relieved to know that this meant they could dedicate more time to navigating the COVID crisis. But with exams just around the corner, I found myself reflecting on the meaning of exams and grades in law school.
Sure, at first after the pass/fail decision I thought to myself, “What exactly does passing mean and how much work do I really need to put in to get that passing grade?” Even with these looming thoughts, I still found myself regularly attending (Zoom) classes, keeping up with my readings, and getting a start on my outlines for finals. And I do not think I am alone here.
Note: watch this space for more from the contributors of BC Law: Impact in the coming weeks! Here is a preview of some of the commentary we’ll have here:
Coffee and candy. Two things I absolutely must have during finals. Luckily the Law Library supplies us with an endless supply of candy (and Whoppers, which really isn’t candy) at the front desk, and the cafeteria gives us free coffee.
Nobody wants Whoppers.
Rare full candy bowl siting!
The trick is not finishing either of these two things before you leave the library or dining hall (it’s really impossible, though). Sometimes you just have to be a little clever…
All I wanted was a Venti.