The Health Effects of Law School
We all know law school isn’t easy. There’s a ton of reading, even more writing, and a general aura of peer-to-peer competitiveness. Suffice it to say, it’s not for the faint of heart. Even if you have prepared yourself with ardor for the intensity of all this, what may surprise you is not the mental toll, but the physical toll. The old adage “law school is a marathon, not a sprint” is especially true here; without proper pace and rest, by the time you reach the finish line, you could be dangerously exhausted. In this article, we’ll talk about three of the physical effects of law school and, if possible, give some tips on how to avoid them.
- You might need glasses. First, the glasses. If you didn’t wear them before law school, you definitely could after. All the readings and stares on backlit computers do a number on your eyes, and if you notice blurry vision or a general feeling of eye fatigue after reading, go straight to the eye doctor for a prescription. While I started law school with glasses, over the next three years my prescription doubled and I had to buy a separate pair of glasses just to read! To avoid the same fate, make sure you have adequate lighting when reading and turn down your brightness as low as you can tolerate when writing or in class. Also, be sure to stand up or look away from the computer every once in a while, as this can help refocus and relax your eyes. If none of that works, try buying a microwaveable heating pad to put over your eyes; it’s fantastic.
- You might have more headaches. Due to the need for glasses, you might start having more headaches than usual. All the reading and writing stresses your eyes, but it can also stress the rest of you and lead to nasty migraines or tension headaches. If this happens to you, carry ibuprofen or another painkiller in your bag. While you might have a look or two, you can still take it to your desk, between classes, or even in the bathroom. There’s nothing worse than having to take 5 more classes when your head feels like exploding.
- You could develop an addiction. At the start of law school, I didn’t recognize any of the students who were standing outside our building smoking between classes. Over time, however, I noticed more and more of my classmates and I could definitely smell it on them when they came back to class. Existing in a constant state of tension can affect you in a variety of ways, including craving or developing an addiction. Of course, they cover this topic during orientation, but they usually focus on hard drugs or alcoholism. There are all kinds of addictions: smoking, drinking, drugs, caffeine, gambling, gambling, etc. Although each of these is its own beast, they are all arguably bad for your health and for your wallet too! One of the best ways to avoid this is to do some internal self-checking and check how you are feeling in the moment. Do you fancy a cigarette during the civil proceedings? Why? What could you do instead that would be less harmful? Another helpful tip is to consider therapy or learn about positive self-care behaviors to help you deal with large amounts of stress. Developing these skills early will set you on the right path, especially as you transition from student to seasoned lawyer.
While no one wants headaches and thick glasses like a Coke bottle anymore, taking care of your physical health is just as important as your mental health. While there’s not much you can do to combat all the reading, writing, and stress that comes with law school, there are several intentional steps you can take to ensure your three years law studies have no lifelong health implications. Drink water, eat well and above all, lower your brightness!