Grace is a law student at The University of Auckland in New Zealand.
Lately, I have been feeling a lot of anxiety and I find it extremely hard to sleep. Although this is not a completely new experience, it does trouble me a little bit. I think I’m just feeling stressed from the pile of clerkship applications that I have to work on and the increasing pressure to plan for my impending graduation. This time I’m lucky enough to have a supportive partner in my life, and I cannot stress how important his support has been. My anxiety is more manageable, and I feel like I’m coping better because I can share my thoughts and feelings with someone that I trust. The more I talk about my problems, the more they seem to disappear.
It is unfortunate that the culture of law school tends to be individualistic and competitive, and it does not foster the inherent need for human beings to belong and support each other. It is well established that human beings are social creatures, but it is incredible how much impact social relationships have on our mental wellbeing. A study by Holt-Lunstad, Smith & Layton (2010) shows that social support is a very powerful predictor of our well-being and mortality. It makes sense; a stable and supportive relationship reduces stress and facilitates our own personal growth. In cases of depression and anxiety, the person is often isolated and alone.
The thought of asking for help or reaching out may be overwhelming. However, the presence of close others, whether they are your partner or family member, is extremely valuable. Your friends and loved ones will not feel burdened by your problems. Furthermore, it is always good to build new friendships to improve the network of supportive relationships in your life. You don’t have to go through your problems alone.