Social isolation has a significantly negative impact on our mental and physical health and overall wellbeing. To wit, Depression, anxiety, drug use and even overdose deaths have all skyrocketed as a result of the pandemic forcing all of us out of our routines and into isolation and restricted behavior.
Humans are social animals and depriving yourself of social contact can negatively impact exam prep and exam performance. Maintaining at least some level of social activity can be extremely beneficial. But, there are times during bar exam preparation that you’ll need to buckle down and forego the meetups and get togethers. Here are some tips for how to overcome social isolation and still study effectively.
- Phone a friend. Simply making time to chat with a friend or family member can offer a much-needed reprieve from legal subject matter. And as much as we all prefer to text rather than talk, texting just doesn’t have the same benefits of human connection. Hearing a friendly and familiar voice can soothe anxiety and reduce stress, so make time to talk.
- Plan a short coffee visit. Going out with friends can be a slippery slope, especially if it’s a dinner or happy hour—it can be hard to resist the temptation to stay out longer than you really should and interrupt your sleep schedule. Instead, plan a coffee or lunch date with a friend—preferably one who also has a defined schedule, so your visit can’t run too long. Face-to-face time is even better than a phone call for reinforcing connection, and getting out the house briefly can help reinvigorate and renew your focus.
- Check in on Facetime. When actually leaving the house is too time-consuming, a quick Facetime call with a friend or fellow study mate can provide a worthy substitute. It allows you to at least see and interact with another human being without the time required to get ready, drive to a meeting place, etc. Daily check-ins with study buddies can help to keep you all energized and motivated.
- Go on an exercise date. Movement and exercise have proven benefits for stress reduction and brain function, which makes getting together with friends for a walk, yoga class or spin session a 2-for-1 deal. You get the benefits of improved fitness and social interaction at the same time.
- Go to a religious service. If your faith is important, making time to attend a worship service can give you the social stimulus you need to feel more invigorated and inspired. Again, another benefit here is that worship services are usually a defined block of time, which makes it less likely you’ll stay out too long.
- Organize a study group. Here’s another opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. By getting together with fellow bar exam preppers to study, you can get a healthy dose of social interaction and academic/intellectual stimulus. Bring some snacks, quiz one another, and discuss topics to test your knowledge and perspective on the law.
One benefit of the pandemic is that it forced us to get creative when it comes to finding ways to be social and remain connected with those we care about. During bar exam prep, leveraging those same creative connection strategies can reduce isolation and help you maintain a better sense of engagement in the world at large, which will help lower stress and improve mental acuity, as well as test performance.