Skip to main content

Thriving in Law School: Stress Management

Resources to help manage stress, find help and succeed in law school.

Successful stress management varies from person to person. This page presents a variety of strategies, so you can find the ones that work for you.* Try identifying some techniques when you feel calm, so you have a plan in place when you need it.

*Recognize that counter-productive stress coping strategies, such as drinking to excess or procrastination, can be replaced with healthy options with a plan and some determination.

Stress Responses and Relief

Recognize Your Stress

Listen to your body. An increased heart rate, sweating, tense muscles, or clenched jaw may all indicate you are feeling stressed. Note what cues your body offers, so you can take steps to address the stressor.

12 Quick Tips for Stress Relief


You knew that! But did you know Drake offers group exercise classes, such as pilates, Zumba, and yoga?

DIY Massage

Lace your fingers together and use your thumb to knead your opposite hand, moving in circles from the base of your thumb to the middle of your palm. Switch hands. The link above provides more extensive instructions as well as other massage suggestions.

Three-Part Breath

For three minutes, just breathe, inhaling, holding the breath, and exhaling all to the same count (e.g., in for five, hold for five, out for five).

Channel Your Inner Mr. Miyagi

Vigorously rub your hands together, then place them firmly over your eyes.

Soak Your Feet

Add Epsom salts to a container of very hot water and soak for 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy a Laugh

The Mayo Clinic notes, “When you laugh, it not only lightens your mental load but also causes positive physical changes in your body. Laughter fires up and then cools down your stress response.” Check out the library's legal humor collection.


“Aromatherapy can reduce the perception of stress, increase contentment, and decrease levels of cortisol, the ‘stress hormone.’”

Shake it Off

Shake your hands, arms, or whole body at the pace that feels good to you.


One easy seated stretch is the spinal twist. Sit with your feet firmly on the floor. Twist to the left, placing your left hand on the chair back and right hand on the chair arm or your left leg. Hold, then switch sides.

Quiet Ears

Lie back with your hands behind your head. Use your thumbs to close the ear canal. Listen to the rushing sound for 10-15 minutes.

Note Gratitude Weekly

See link above for other tips for getting the most out of a gratitude journal.

Especially for Lawyers

Many of the mindfulness and meditation resources also focus particularly on lawyers.

Relaxation Techniques

We have identified many more mindfulness and meditation resources.



Studies demonstrate that cultivating gratitude can reduce stress and improve happiness. Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology, notes one simple exercise to start: Every night write down three things that went well today and why they went well.

Law Library Web Site · Locator Guide & Maps · Hours · Interlibrary Loan · Ask A Librarian

Drake University Law Library • 2604 Forest Ave. • Des Moines, Iowa 50311-3014