The second installment of the Summer of Study post will focus on the holistic “lifestyle” aspects of studying for major exams like the Bar Exam, the LSAT, the GMAT, etc. The first installment can be found here.
Avoid relationship drama.
I had a “friendship” end right around my birthday, June 20. Compounding the final deterioration of an unhealthy relationship (friendships are a form of “relationship”) with living in Indianapolis without family or any type of support system, and studying for the Bar Exam, resulted in a very emotionally and mentally strenuous week or two while I mourned the end of that relationship. I had to pull it together to keep studying, but that was very difficult. If I could make the choice again, I would not have placed myself in the circumstance of that weirdly unbalanced and unhealthy relationship, and assuredly not while studying for the Bar.
Don’t give up or neglect your hobby.
You will need a distraction from studying. Now is as good a time as any to start or continue running, cycling, swimming, kickboxing, painting, knitting, drawing, taking photographs, etc. Believe me, you will need the physical and creative outlet because you will become overwhelmed and frustrated, if you haven’t already. You may begin to feel defeated or as though you are not progressing in the way that you should be. Nothing says “I am ahhmazing” like going for a run or kicking and punching the hell out of a heavy bag. Hit some tennis balls, go to the batting cages. Knit, sew, draw, paint. Allow yourself a creative, physical, and/or meditative outlet.
Do not deprive yourself of your needs.
I moved to Indianapolis the day after I graduated from law school. The other new associates who were starting at the firm with me were taking a different bar study course and I did not see them all summer. I did not know anyone in Indianapolis and I did not have a car to get around. However, I knew that I needed the love, laughs, and comfort of close friends and family. Therefore, until July 4th weekend, I was on a Megabus to Chicago 2-3 times per month while I studied for the July Bar. I studied on the bus and while in Chicago, but I also got to see my newborn niece and had home-cooked meals from my mother and sister. I believe that going to Chicago to see family and friends helped keep me steady and fulfilled enough to pass the Bar Exam that summer, and on the first try. Whatever your needs are, try to fulfill them in the healthiest and least destructive ways possible.
Eat healthfully and drink water.
You need all the energy and concentration you can get. If you don’t already know, fried foods and simple carbs slow you down. Whether you call it “the itis” or a “food coma,” avoid the foods that cause it, especially when you know you need to study after your meal.
I cannot emphasize this enough. If you become frustrated or unsure of yourself, reach out to someone. Help may come in the form of a friend whom you confide in about your frustrations, a mentor that you call to assuage your fear of failing the exam, or a therapist that provides perspective and insight into your feelings and actions during your summer of study. Help may also come in the form of spiritual guidance. If church is your thing, then make time for church. Make time to take care of yourself, period. Not even the Bar Exam or the GMAT is more important than receiving the encouragement, tranquility, and fulfillment you may receive from your church home or from your therapist. What ever form of support you need, go out and get it.
Leave a comment or send me an email if you have a particular questions about studying, or anything.
Best of luck!!