Practicing law has long held a reputation as a high-stress profession. Long hours are not uncommon, but it is often the subject matter itself that can be particularly stressful. The challenges that come with this profession have only made worse during the coronavirus pandemic.
Stress is especially problematic during a public health crisis given the impact it can have on the body. Stress can lead to headaches, fatigue, and chest pain, among consequences. The good news is that there are ways for attorneys to manage stress levels—even during a pandemic. Consider the following tips for reducing stress during the era of COVID-19.
Unhealthy stress is especially an issue for Minnesota criminal defense lawyers. The direct and indirect consequences of a criminal conviction are often overwhelming, especially in a sex crime or other serious felony. Stressed-out lawyers aren’t at their best. That increases the possibility of a negative outcome, which increases the possibility of more stress, and the downward spiral begins.
Stay Physically Active
There are steep physical consequences that can come with a high-stress job. Adding the fear of a pandemic on top of that can only further deteriorate an attorney’s health. As the ABA Journal discusses, intense physical activity can have great benefits for anyone in the legal field dealing with the pressure of job performance.
Long-term stress stemming from workplace issues and the fear of the pandemic can result in the excess release of a hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol—which is released from the adrenal glands—is helpful to the body in “fight or flight” situations. However, a steady release of this hormone due to work-related stress could deteriorate your health.
One of the ways to combat this issue is through strenuous physical activity. Any physical activity that raises the heart rate could help your body dissipate unnecessary cortisol and eliminate the health consequences that can come with it.
Physical activity can often do more than simply reduce cortisol levels. For many people, regular exercise is a stress reliever in other ways. It is an opportunity to take your mind off of the world and focus on other things.
Connect with Others
Stress and isolation often go hand in hand. This is especially true during a pandemic where in-person contact with other people is severely limited. This reality might alter the way you connect with other people, but it should not eliminate those connections entirely. Technology has advanced to the point where there are countless avenues to connect with another person by video chat or over the phone. Maintaining both professional and personal relationships is a vital step toward avoiding stress and keeping up the friendships and partnerships that are important to you.
Racing, fear-based thoughts are an unfortunate part of living during a deadly pandemic. That does not mean you have to be stuck in a constant cycle of fear. By carefully minding your thoughts, you steer your mind away from the stress and strain of a pandemic and toward more positive things.
One way to do this is through meditation. Set a goal to meditate every day, if only for a few minutes. This short period of mindfulness can provide the tools you need to protect your mind from wandering into a place of fear or stress.
As an attorney, you are used to other people coming to you with their problems. During a pandemic, there is no better time to discuss your own issues with a skilled professional. A licensed therapist or counselor could provide detailed insight into methods for reducing stress. Along the way, counseling could provide you with an opportunity to address other issues that might have bubbled to the surface during a pandemic.
Most attorneys pride themselves on being problem solvers. However, some issues are better handled by someone other than yourself. Relying on a counselor or therapist could help reduce stress and allow you to better serve your clients who have their own struggles.
Focus on Things in Your Control
Life is full of things that are entirely out of your control. This has never been truer that during a global pandemic. The reality is that there are no steps you can take on your own to end the pandemic or return the practice of law back to normal. Obsessing over unknowns or things outside of your control will only add to an already stressful situation.
Instead, spend your energy on the things you can directly impact. This is true both of your professional or personal time. If you have more free time at work than you expected, now could be the right time to begin blogging or creating videos for your clients. Your personal time can be spent on anything from video chatting with friends to undertaking projects at home that you have put off for you years. Focusing on these tasks not only makes better use of your time, it also reduces the stress that comes with worrying about the unknown.
Don’t Bottle Up Anxiety
Many lawyers seek to avoid the anxiety and stress that comes with the pandemic entirely. Unfortunately, this approach can be more problematic than helpful over the long-term. Instead of escaping reality, set aside some time each day to focus on things you enjoy. Making use of your time in a controlled way that suits your own needs could drastically reduce the stress you feel.
Bring Out the Positives and Reduce the Negatives
Ultimately, you can choose to wallow in the negatives of the pandemic or focus on the positives that remain. For most people, there are still positives in their life that deserve attention. By maximizing the positives and minimizing the negatives, you could be happier and less stressed.
The focus on positive thinking can impact your professional and private lives. At work, focus your time on the clients you maintain and how best to serve their needs. Use free time that you have not to worry about the future but to accomplish goals you set for yourself. The more time you are centered on positive thoughts, the less time you are stressing yourself over things out of your control. Ultimately, try to practice some form of gratitude each day. Instead of worrying or stressing about the unknown, take a moment to be thankful for what you do have.