Attorneys often have high expectations and high demands of themselves and their business. They are often organized, problem solvers, detail-oriented, and perfectionists but with this can come anxiety, depression, worry, and fatigue. Between deadlines, long days, working weekends, and law school debt, it may seem that the anxiety is never ending.
Because of this, it is important to focus on self-care so it doesn’t lead to burnout (which can lead to interrupted sleep or insomnia, constant stress which can cause health issues, or substance abuse). So how does one cope with or manage anxiety? Here are four ways that you can keep your stress and anxiety at bay – exercising often, practicing mindfulness, setting boundaries, and getting enough sleep at night.
Exercising: Whether it’s riding your bike, walking outside, running on a treadmill, or enjoying a yoga class, it’s important to move your body to keep your body healthy. If possible, walk in nature or put your feet in the grass for additional benefits.
Exercise helps you relax and reduces anxiety by releasing happy, feel-good endorphins. It can also help lighten your mood, improve self-esteem and increase cognitive function.
Focusing on a healthier lifestyle can also include maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and avoiding alcohol.
Mindfulness: This process consists of focusing on the present moment – feeling what you need to feel and thinking what you need to think without judgement. It means being aware of your feelings, surroundings, actions, and thoughts and being intentional with how you feel.
You only need just a few minutes per day to practice mindfulness. Apps like Headspace or Calm can guide you thought mindfulness practices to help calm your nerves and stay in the moment. By being aware of your mood, you are more apt to problem solve and decide proper solutions using a clear mind.
Setting boundaries: This is a huge part of controlling anxiety and it holds a lot of power. Setting boundaries and saying “no” means taking care of yourself and your mental health. It allows you to prioritize self-care and moments with your family without worrying about clients or your staff. When you are at home or have some time off, enjoy that time and learn how to disconnect.
Setting boundaries means saying “no” to certain things, and “yes” to others. Set your out of office reply, take breaks often, be transparent to your team, and set clear expectations. Also, by understanding your limits and your breaking points, you are able to make decisions that benefit you and those around you with a clear and thoughtful process.
Getting enough sleep: This is probably one of the most important factors that determine how anxious or stressed you are. If you are sleep deprived, it can affect your mental and physical health. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night and limit caffeine before bed.
Adequate sleep recharges your mind and body so you can handle anxiety and stress better and make it through your day.
The legal industry can be very demanding and stressful. It’s important that you are able to balance your workload with self-care and make sure that you are aware when you are anxious. It’s necessary to find practical ways to reduce stress and anxiety so it doesn’t reach the burnout stage. We hope you can apply some of the above and take breaks when and where you need it.