Self-Care: Managing Your Stress
The life of an attorney can be a roller coaster: some weeks are slow and steady while other days can be full of chaos and long hours. Stress is an inevitable part of a legal career that is bound to come up at some point. Everyone experiences stress in their career, whether the person is just starting out at a law firm or as a long-time partner. Stress related illnesses are on the rise in America as the workforce becomes more competitive and attorney jobs are scarce. Even though stress is a fact of life, the manners in which we manage stressful times can make all the difference.
It’s amazing how a taking in a couple deep breaths can change your mood. Taking in deep breaths from your diaphragm helps to oxygenate your blood, which, in turn, helps to relax you. Learning how to do proper breathing techniques can help to lower your blood pressure and cortisol levels, as well as make you feel more awake with the extra oxygen in your blood stream.
Did you know that smiling helps to make you relax? Smiling triggers nerve impulses in your facial muscles to your limbic system, which controls the emotional portion of your brain. Your brain will then release hormones to help you calm down. If you find yourself getting angry or overwhelmed, smiling can help to bring you back down to normal. If you find it too hard to smile out of nowhere, put on a funny cat video, talk to a funny person, or look at old photos that make you smile.
Some people find writing their feelings in a journal to be stress–relieving. It can be hard to discuss your issues with a coworker or family member, but putting your feelings on paper aids in making you feel relief in the same way. Even short bursts of your feelings can help in a grand way. The Five Minute Journal has been a popular journaling method that helps you start and end your day in a positive mood.
Scents can trigger your brain to release relaxing hormones in an instant. Oils of anise, basil, chamomile, eucalyptus, lavender, and peppermint are common soothing scents. Adding a couple drops of these oils to a cloth or lighting a candle when you are feeling stressed can help to calm yourself down. You can even train your body to calm down when smelling a certain scent, especially if you smell it regularly when you are relaxing.
Schedule a time when you handle your stressful tasks. For example, start working on your harder, more time consuming tasks as soon as you get to the office. You can also set aside a calm-down time for you to take care of yourself and decompress. Your body will get used to this and you will know when to work hard and when to let things go for a little while.
Practicing mindfulness has become a growing trend, especially with the rise in popularity of yoga. Mindfulness is the mental state of achieving awareness of oneself at the present moment. In other words, maintaining a moment-to-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and environment. Paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgement can help you to figure out what may be triggering your elevated mood, and what makes you calm down.
Being frazzled and overwhelmed is normal from time to time. However, if you find yourself dealing with an immense amount of stress, finding a way to manage it is the most important thing for you to do. In addition, if your stress if affecting your well-being, seeking professional help from a therapist is a great way to find out new stress management skills. Self-care is an important aspect of a person’s everyday life, and finding ways to keep yourself mentally and physically healthy aid in the longevity and happiness of your legal career.