Running on Empty

How to keep up with your hobbies even when you’re a stressed-out law student

Madi Stapleton, 1L

It is no secret that law school can be a stressful time! One way that I (and many other students) stay afloat is by keeping up with other hobbies that have nothing to do with law. For me, that is running! Taking the time to do something I enjoy helps me take my mind off of school and remember who I am outside of being a student.

You have to give up a lot of your own free time in order to succeed in law school, but continuing to make time for an activity that gives you joy is always worth it in the long run (no pun intended). Here are a few suggestions for how to make sure you don’t get lost in the weeds of school and forget about the fun and fulfilling things you like to do:

First, figure out your routine and set aside non-negotiable time every week to do something for yourself that you enjoy, whatever that may be. If you get in the habit when the semester starts, it will be automatic to continue doing so as things get busier towards the end. That’s when you’ll need it most!

Secondly, I don’t necessarily recommend trying to find a “new” interest or hobby. Maybe that will work for you, but for me I had too much new information coming at me already and it was nice to go to something I already enjoy. Instead of making it into another task on your checklist that you “should” do, try to just pick something you already love and you know you don’t want to give up. Maybe that’s reading, yoga, biking, baking, music, knitting, playing/watching sports, gardening or something else entirely. 

Finally, depending on the activity, I recommend finding other people who enjoy the same thing and doing it together! Or, at least have someone to talk with about it. This helps you remember why you enjoy it and also keeps you accountable. I am part of a super amazing group of runners at Kansas City Running Club and have been running with them almost every Saturday since 2021. They have been rocking with me through the whole journey of studying for the LSAT, applying to schools and completing my first semester. It has made a huge difference to have a support system that is there to listen and also to remind me to take a break and do something for myself.  Everyone eventually finds their own way to manage their schedules to best meet their needs, and looking back on my first semester I am so glad I continued to run even when I felt like I didn’t have the time. While you figure out what works for you, I hope that you don’t forget that your interests outside of school continue to matter! It will make you a happier person (and a better student) if you take space away from the law school to tend to some of the extracurriculars that bring you joy.

– Madi Stapleton is a 1L KU Law Student Ambassador from Olathe, Kansas