Beating Stress and Finding Balance: The Third Space

March 6, 2013

As a law student I often have trouble juggling my many commitments and switching between study time, family time and getting my brain in gear to go to work. Law students live hectic lives and often carry stress and pressure from one commitment to the next.


By learning to transition between our daily tasks we can make the most of everything we do without compromising on our commitments. We can do this just by having the right mindset as we go about our day.


Dr. Adam Fraser, a human performance researcher and best-selling author believes that those people who are best able to manage the pressures and demands of modern life have something in common: the effective use what he has labelled the 'third space'.


The third space is the gap between what you're doing (the first space) and what you're about to do (the second space), for example the time between a busy day at uni and when you get home is the third space. Those people who utilise the third space get the most out of their day, are able to bounce back from stress or disappointment and approach new tasks with a positive attitude.


Dr Fraser has spent some time studying what helps people to transition between their daily activities. He conducted a study with Deakin University to test his theory, asking that subjects perform three behaviours in the third space on their way home, and assessing their performance. A 41% improvement was reported in subjects’ behaviour after a month of practicing the reflect, rest and reset method and subjects reported a greater feeling of happiness, better relationships and balance in their lives.


We can give this practice a try too:


1. Reflect


This is where we focus on what we have done well and achieved today, for example I now have a good grasp of the concept of natural justice from my Administrative Law study. If there's something you want to improve upon, think about how you might be able to approach it next time.



2. Rest


Here we relax and unwind. This involves being calm and present, giving our body a chance to recover from the stresses of the day. You could take a walk, pause for few deep breaths or listen to your favourite song on the bus, anything that allows you to let go and relax.



3. Reset


Now that we are rested and have put the day behind us, our thoughts move to what we need to next, the intentions we have for when we get home and the specific behaviours we want to exhibit. My intentions could be to be happy and cheery and not snap at my housemate, or maybe I want to enjoy the time I'm spending with my family – I’m not able to do that when my mind is thinking about work or uni.


I challenge you to take the time to master your third space this semester and see what you can achieve!



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