Friday, August 16, 2013

Back to School: Managing Stress, Controlling Anxiety, and Getting Enough Sleep

Focus and be well-rested?  Every law student's elusive desire. 

For today's class on test taking strategies and test anxiety, I asked our new 1L students to read M.H. Sam Jacobson's article: Paying Attention or Fatally Distracted?  Concentration, Memory, and Multi-Tasking in a Multi-Media World ( 2010).  She skillfully digests the science behind her thesis that students cannot be successful in law school if they do not manage distractions.  She also recommends getting plenty of sleep.

Yesterday, as I was cleaning up my email box (and trying to avoid distractions), I found a web interview of Dr. Richard J. Davidson, co-author of The Emotional Life of Your Brain.   The interview (53 minutes) talked about the plasticity of the brain and how mindfulness meditation can help people manage distractions and shape the brain in helpful ways. 

I knew some of this science from my own experience, training, and reading.  But, in one of those odd moments of synergy, this information came together in time for today's class.  As noted in an earlier posting, I have taken our new law students though three guided meditations this week.  

Today, they experienced a body scan meditation designed to help them relax, get calm, manage anxiety, train the brain, and perhaps fall asleep when desired.   You can find samples of these meditations all over the web. I like this one, by Greg de Vries, frankly because it was not too hokey.  

Overall, students appreciated these tools, and I am so very happy I had the forum in which to teach them.

Yes, the Appalachian School of Law is a very different kind of law school.

P.S.  I just found this blog posting on improving sleep quality and quantity using a "cool little app called SleepCycle."  Interesting.  Again, self-awareness gives you power to change.

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