By Melissa Hu, University of Auckland
They say that your university years are some of the best years you’ll ever have. They tell you “this is when you’ll make friends for life” and “you’ll make your mark on the world,” or that you’ll “discover your inner self”, whatever that means.
But, as I’m sure we’ve all discovered, it’s probably more aptly described as an ongoing constant scramble to keep that GPA afloat, eat 5+ a day, network, be the ‘all rounded’ law firm ideal, be nice to your parents, exercise (does the Auckland Law hill count?), get at least 7 hours of sleep, volunteer, work, and maybe it would nice to see some friends once in a while too.
We’ve got 168 hours in a week- seems totally achievable, right? Well it probably doesn’t always feel that way.
Enter Jerome Doraisamy – a young Sydney lawyer who was diagnosed with clinical depression straight out of law school. In his first book The Wellness Doctrines, he includes some inspiring anecdotes, details his fast track back to wellness and dishes out his top tips to getting over these law school hurdles. Written for young lawyers and law students, it tackles the hidden issue of the alarmingly high rates of anxiety and depression in the legal profession with practical tools and advice.
Here are a few things that Jerome points out for a more manageable and healthy work/life balance:
I’ve been meaning to go to a Spin class for about 2 years now, but have just never got round to it. Sound familiar? Jerome says we need to “make time, not find time!” If we rely on finding time, something else will always pop up at the last minute. But, if you make your hobby non-negotiable, the chances of you maintaining it will increase exponentially, which means we’ll draw benefit from it, and therefore reap the benefits of both worlds.
Get in touch with your altruistic side. It’s a win-win situation. You focus on the needs of others, and in turn, it helps you realise what your own needs are. You might discover a whole new set of friends, an entirely alternative aspect of the community, or maybe it might just be something to add to your CV. Whatever your reason is, it’s a good way to distance yourself from the rigours of law school.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that if you surround yourself with people who make you feel insecure, you’ll always push yourself to better heights. This is true, but only insofar as it pushes you in healthy ways. I ‘ll be the first to admit that I compare myself to others all too often, and I know it’s proven to be a detrimental habit to my esteem and wellness. Realise that everybody has different strengths, personalities, skills and circumstances. Just because you don’t have 57 job offers flying your way does not mean you’re a failure.
Indulge In Your Guilty Pleasures. Do it, I Dare You!
Work and study are not the be-all and end-all. You need to find time for yourself. If you “accidentally” watch 3 seasons of The Real Housewives in a 48-hour sitting, don’t beat yourself up about it (but also maybe don’t do it every week). If you feel guilty after a night out with your mates because you should have been at home colour-coding your course books with your highlighter collection, then at some stage you have to make peace with the fact that you’re only human and you’re young. It’s good for the soul, I swear.
Meditation Is Not Just For Hippies
Allocate a 15 minute segment of your day that’s not study, work, social media or sitting in traffic. There a million benefits to meditation such as improved academic achievement and reduced stress levels. Hey, if it might get me better grades, no harm in trying, right?
Check out the website for The Wellness Doctrines for Law Students and Young Lawyers here.