Three Ways to identify (and beat) law school stress
The Charleston School of Law in partnership with Lawyers Helping Lawyers, a South Carolina Bar counseling program for law students and legal professionals, raises the value of health (mental and physical) and wellness.
Beth Padgett, co-director for Lawyers Helping Lawyers, says mental and physical wellness go hand-in-hand with student success. “Law students tend to be Type A personalities,” said Padgett. “High achievers. Very competitive. Perfectionistic.”
The latter – perfectionism — may be the lynchpin of all the mental health challenges, according to Padgett.
“Nobody’s going be perfect,” she said. “So much anxiety builds up around perfectionism because you’re sure there’s a problem and you’re looking for it. Lawyers look for problems all day long in the work that they do. So, they never can really get away from that behavior. It can create a hurdle.”
Padgett added, law students need to be mindful of your identity.
“We want students to remember who they are. They sometimes try to forget that, or the environment helps them forget that. They want to be this a law student, like that’s their identity. We invite them to remember who they are.”
That requires students to monitor their work/life balance. It’s important to be disciplined and never lose sight of your academic goals, but law school can’t be all-work-and-no-play. Padgett said, in her experience, students “… tend to do is to stop doing all the things they did before that weren’t in law school.”
Whether that is exercising, hobbies, traveling, socializing with friends, she says students tend to “lose touch with friends. They don’t stay in touch with people back home. They don’t even do a good job of staying in touch with their family.”
According to their website:
Law students and lawyers face stressful circumstances on a regular basis,” creating an environment in which substance use disorders and other mental illnesses and emotional issues can develop. “Lawyers Helping Lawyers exists to help you reduce the pain and loss that result from struggles with alcohol, drugs, and mental and emotional illnesses.
Padgett, who confessed she is in long term recovery herself (29 years), knows the symptoms, knows the patterns, knows the risk.
“That’s what drew me into the work,” she said. “I want to help law students have a healthy experience.”
If you begin feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, the Charleston School of Law and Lawyers Helping Lawyers are here to help with peer support, counseling, mental health, and wellness CLE’s.