Yeah, we know. A lot has been written about it. But as we face the middle of August and the end of summers and 'vacation season', it's a good time to revisit. Because, let's face it, it's a taxing profession whether an attorney, a paralegal, a judge, or even a juror. The reality is that when people reach out for legal support, it's not generally because they are at a high point in their life. So that's where it all begins.
Identifying Your Stress Level
We all know that feeling. Just a little bit on edge. Maybe comments are a bit more snappy, a bit less patient. Or maybe your thoughts are racing. For me, it shows up as an inability to sleep well. The first step is identifying your stress.
So, be sure to notice you are not your typical 'self', however you identify it. It's time to put some thought in to it and then do something about it.
So, what's the cause?
The next step is identifying the cause. No doubt we all have many candidates! Work is generally stressful enough. Could be your personal life, or maybe it's the lack of a personal life. Always best here to start a list!
So, think about what has changed. Is it the sheer amount of work? A specific case or client? Perhaps it's a change in the office itself. Or maybe it's a combination of these things and others. The point is to identify the issue. And then start addressing what you can do to either adapt or exit. Yes, this is a simplistic example. For some events, like divorce or financial stress, there is little that can be done other than to seek professional help. And let me add, I'm a big believer in professional help. Especially in the legal, medical, and other professions where the very work itself is so stressful. And, there are lots of options. Check with your bar association, community, church, or even through apps! The point is, don't be shy. It all helps!
If your current stress level doesn't warrant professional help, we have some other tips. Keep reading.
So, you can counterbalance the stuff that makes you stressed with stuff that brings you joy, to borrow Marie Kondo's great tidying up principle. Where do you find peace? For me, it's working out. And that's a double joy because not only do I feel better after a good sweat, but my body is stronger which makes me happier and it's a continual process of raising my spirits. I leave that negative stuff in the weights or on the bike or on the run. Enjoying time with people I love, either sharing a meal or seeing a show, brings me so much joy. And being able to do that reinforces the need to work. Another positive cycle.
The point is you can counterbalance the stress by finding things that remove or eliminate stress. So, time for another list! And put it to use.
Of course, there are many other options on how to deal with stress.
- Eat healthy. I know, it sounds kind of basic but it helps. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruit, low-fat proteins, and limit the sugar and snacks. Oh, and alcohol. Definitely limit alcohol.
- Exercise. Yeah, it's a big favorite with more than one positive impact. Start where you are - learned that from my trainer. And grow from there. If it's a walk on the treadmill or around the block or you are aiming for a marathon. Get moving.
- Sleep. This one can be tough. It isn't like you can just decide to fall asleep when you want. But we do have some tips. Limit electronic use at least 1 hour before you head to bed. Limit alcoholic drinks, too. And some tips on how help you fall asleep faster.
- Meditate. The more you learn how to quiet your mind, focus on your breath, and generally slow things down, the better. Trust me, it works. There are plenty of YouTube videos and various books to help you learn.
- Have fun! Spend some down time with friends, family, pets, neighbors or wherever you find your social circle. Interested in pottery? Find a class. Or whatever interests you may have. Get out there, spend time with people, and use your brain to do something you will really enjoy.
As my grandmother used to say, you can't fill a cup from an empty vessel. So make sure to take care of yourself. You can't be an efficient and caring attorney if you are running on empty. You can't be a great companion or enjoy all that life has to offer if you are stressed. So remember, take care of yourself, too.