According to Discover Magazine, fire is an event, not a thing. As combustible fuels are heated, they release vapors that mix with oxygen in the air, heating the fuels even more and creating an ongoing burning cycle. Even the smallest flame can result in the destruction of an entire forest or city, granted that there is enough fuel available to sustain it.
Now surely there’s a reason why you decided to become a lawyer and not a scientist. Thus, the properties of fire may not excite you much. If you’re reading this, however, chances are you feel like you are being consumed by an even more destructive cycle – bar exam burnout. Like fire, burnout is an event, as it results from consistent stress that gradually deters you from maintaining focus and motivation for the bar exam. Even the smallest flame of anxiety can grow into a wildfire that leaves you feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.
However, being burned out doesn’t mean that it’s too late to take and pass the bar exam! In fact, it’s never too late to bounce back. Rather than allowing burnout to moderate your future, take these 9 steps now to recover from bar exam burnout – and fast!
Step 1: Assess the Stress
As overwhelmed as you may feel, take some time to reflect on what it is that may have caused you to start feeling burned out in the first place. Did you accept any new responsibilities or commitments? Have you distanced yourself from family and friends in order to focus on studying? Whatever the cause, identifying it will be the biggest indicator of what you need to change in order to regain energy and drive before the bar exam.
Step 2: Simplify Your Life
Instead of analyzing everything you have left to accomplish long-term, focus solely on the present. For example, rather than worrying about all of the information you have left to study before the bar, concentrate only on the material that you must study that day. You can also simplify your life further by limiting your use of technology, keeping a clean living space, and starting each morning with a ‘to-do’ list of 2-4 small tasks that you would like to complete.
Step 3: Start Saying No
It can be hard to say no when someone asks you for a favor, but saying yes could also leave you feeling more burned out than before. In any situation, it’s important to put yourself first and only accept as many commitments as you can handle at a time. Consider this before making any plans that don’t include the bar exam, and simply explain your circumstances to the other person if at any time you feel obligated to help.
Step 4: Commit to Healthy Eating
Limit your consumption of sugar and processed foods, and replace them with a diet of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and protein. Simply put, eating healthy has been proven to boost mood, immunity, and energy level, which your body will use to recover at a much faster rate.
Step 5: Reward Yourself
From bar prep to laundry, giving yourself something to look forward to will motivate you to complete your work throughout the week. Instead of indulging in rewards such as food or shopping, however, treat yourself with how you spend your time. For example, go to the gym after answering 40 practice MBE questions each day or have a movie night out with friends after a long week. The anticipation will be sure to give you the boost you need to stay positive and keep striving towards your goals.
Step 6: Ask for Help
As difficult as it may be to find the motivation to attend to daily tasks and commitments when struggling with burnout, it can be even more difficult to ask for help. However, seeking out support, advice, or a helping hand can greatly reduce stress so that you are able to concentrate more on regaining energy and dedication before the bar exam. Explain your situation to close friends and family members and tell them how they can help you recover. Chances are, they will be more than happy to assist you in any way they can.
Step 7: Break Up Your Studying
Sometimes sitting down for an entire day with your face buried in bar prep just isn’t realistic. Rotate between studying for 2 to 3 hours and resting for one hour to recharge your batteries and keep productivity high throughout the day. Also note that this study technique should not be used as a permanent approach to learning the law, but rather a temporary solution to help reduce stress and build motivation.
Step 8: Change Your Sleep Schedule
According to the National Sleep Foundation, all adults should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Too little or too much sleep has been found to negatively affect concentration, mood, memory, and ability to multitask, which is why it is essential that you take your sleep schedule seriously and get the daily recommended amount. Also consider how long it normally takes you to fall asleep when determining the time at which you should go to bed. For example, if you plan on waking up at 8 am and it takes you an hour to fall asleep, you should be in bed no later than 12 pm to acquire the daily minimum of 7 hours.
Step 9: Be Realistic
You don’t have to know everything about the law or achieve a perfect score to pass the bar exam! Remind yourself of this truth to ease your mind and reduce stress while studying. Also be sure to leave room in your schedule for activities that you enjoy, and not to hold yourself to superhuman expectations of how much you can handle each day. Pushing yourself will only lead to greater burnout.
Also remember – if you’re just starting to feel burned out, don’t wait for a crisis to happen! Take precautions now and read AdaptiBar’s blog post on how to prevent bar exam burnout!