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Balancing motivation and mental wellbeing

Balancing motivation and mental wellbeing

By Aayushi Patel

Young Lawyers Young Persons 


Law is a competitive field that attracts a strong-minded and ambitious student cohort.

Despite it being highly rewarding, studying law has the capacity to quickly become demanding. A profession in law requires extraordinary grades, exceptional involvement in numerous co-curricular activities and extensive legal experience.

As a final-year honours law student, I understand the pressures and stress that students encounter. There’s no formula or script to follow to balance goals and mental health. It is important to do what works for you and remember that hard work cannot flourish if your mental health is compromised.

Throughout the years, I have used a four-step method to recognise my limits and work productively within them. I share it in the hope it assists you in keeping a check on your own wellbeing.

  1. Recognise the warning signs

There’s several ways our body indicates that we need to slow down or stop, such as headaches, dry eyes and inability to focus.

  1. Step back and pause

Step back from your tasks and endless to-do list. Take a breath and take a moment to really analyse the bigger picture that you’re working towards and gain perspective.

  1. Reflect

Be critical and weigh the consequences. Question yourself and be truly honest about how much work you can take on. Meditation or listening to music often helps when you find yourself overwhelmed.

  1. Prioritise

There’s 24 hours in a day. Most likely, all the things you want to achieve within that are not possible and you have to make an informed choice. The more you reflect, the more you will understand yourself and learn to effectively prioritise. Remember to treat yourself as you’d treat a person you love. Know when to push yourself harder and when to take a necessary break.

At the same time, you do not need to compromise your goals. This is my approach:

  • Don’t force a positive mindset

Contrary to what some people believe, forcing inauthentic positivity is a pathway to false hope and high expectations. Instead take a pragmatic and practical approach, and don’t lie to yourself.

  • Plan

While being flexible to new opportunities is crucial, having some attainable goals or milestones in mind can help condition your brain to function purposefully and efficiently.

  • Try not to linger on mistakes

Procrastination and making mistakes can be regretful and this is normal. Try not to spend too much time lingering on and overthinking what has already happened. Every student operates differently and every person has their own way of getting things done. Taking breaks and purposefully maintaining your mental health is not unproductive, rather it will fuel and refresh you.

Ultimately, the best way to balance these essentials is in becoming more self-aware.

I would love to keep this discussion going and connect with other people:

Aayushi Patel is an LLB student and president of the Dictum Society at Victoria University

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