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Legal Analysis and Writing

Feed Your Mind By Feeding Your Body

October 03, 2012

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By Anna Viel

There are very few tips I could give you that I know would apply to everyone.  As I hope you are all discovering, there is no “right way” to do law school.  Every student studies differently, does their reading differently, takes notes differently, outlines differently, etc.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is actively avoid advice from people, because it is liable to stress you out for no reason.

But there is one thing guaranteed to help your academic performance and I don’t think anyone would tell you otherwise: you have to take care of yourself.  If you aren’t getting enough sleep, eating food that will fuel your day or getting enough (or any) exercise, you aren’t alone.  But you aren’t doing yourself any favors either.  While it might feel like you don’t have time to go on a walk or cook yourself a healthy meal because you have so much work, the truth is you are making more work for yourself by NOT doing those activities.  Your brain will work better if you take care of your body first.

Last year I spent two months learning this the hard way.  I was exhausted all the time, feeling simultaneously jittery and like I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I would read the same sentence over and over, and none of it would stick.  Then I found a boot camp class right across the street from my apartment and started going 3-5 mornings a week before class.  I forced myself to put my books down for an hour every night to cook dinner with my boyfriend and eat it at the table, with a knife and fork and a napkin, “like a civilized person” (as my mother would say).  And I set a bedtime for myself, an embarrassing 10:30 p.m., and usually stuck to it.  What I found was that I was way better at participating in class, I retained the info I was reading, and I was nicer. 

Don’t believe you can do it?  Try this: for one week, prioritize food, exercise, sleep, and socializing just as much as school.  Force yourself to go on that run, or play a game of tennis, and then make yourself a slammin’ pot of chili you can eat all week and eat it with friends.  And at the end of the week if you feel like you are less prepared for class I will give you $1.

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