Self-Care is Still a Form of Service

 The following blog post was written by Sydney Coelho, Regent J.D. Class of 2022: 

Self-Care is Still a Form of Service

Stress. It’s a word everyone is familiar with. We all live with it. In a profession that prides itself on serving others, stress is a given. But when you’re constantly in the mode of serving, sometimes you forget to take time for yourself. The phenomenon of overextending oneself can result from many factors. However, a perceived lack of control over increasing demands is by and large the biggest culprit of workplace stress in general.[1] Law, as a profession, is an innately demanding profession. It’s no wonder lawyers are stressed. It’s not only practicing professional who are stressed however. Statistics show that “96% of law students experience significant stress [in the course of their studies], compared to 70% of med students and 43% of grad students.”[2] Think about that figure: 96%! That’s almost a guarantee that at some point in your legal education you will be overwhelmed. For me, it was 1L year. So, what is this thing called stress? How should we define it, and how should we—for lack of a better word—combat it?

According to The American Institute of Stress, stress has many definitions because it changes from person to person.[3] This is because people tend to define stress based on the “negative feelings and emotions it produces.”[4] The Oxford English Dictionary  (OED) defines it as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.”[5] The OED further denotes stress as a “mass noun,” which is “a noun denoting something that cannot be counted.”[6] In other words, stress can best be defined as a subjective emotional state of distress that results in a physical manifestation of discomfort.

How can we reduce the load stress gives us? Scripture reminds us, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” for which “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” [7],[8] In other words, if we think about it, stress is the physical manifestation of the reaction to God’s trials, and the various steps we take to manage stress are the tools of power, love, and self-control God provided us. Recognizing the immense problem facing law students, CEFLER teamed up with Regent University’s Psychological Services Center to provide law students with some guidance in stress management.  For instance, we learned the following methods that—if practiced regularly—can offset stress:  1) One minute of deep breathing; (2) a body scan that helps to identify where our body is holding stress, 3) Meditating on a short scripture verse, 4) making a regular gratitude list .  . .   Addressing stress, rather than let it “control” us, leads to emotional well-being and overall health.   Interested in learning more? See below for the slides from presentation to find out how you too can manage your stress and mitigate the chances of burnout, in law school and beyond.







[4] Id.


[7] James 1:2 (ESV).

[8] 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV).

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