The legal sector has long been fast-paced and high-pressure. For some, the number of deadlines to fulfil and the amount of information to remember might become overwhelming. Like many professionals, people in the legal sector have had to adjust to the ‘new normal' created by the COVID-19 pandemic, adding to their existing responsibility.
There's nothing wrong with feeling a little stressed out; it helps us perform better when juggling multiple tasks or responsibilities that require focus (and yes, I'm looking directly at you, solicitors). However, if it prevents you from properly functioning, it is best to take action.
It doesn’t matter if you work in employment law, corporate law or divorce law. Working in roles that carry a lot of responsibility can be stressful, so it’s best you understand the warning signs and how to deal with them.
Here is Simply Law’s advice tips and advice on how to manage stress working in the legal industry.
Recognise the signs of stress
The first step in coping with stress is acknowledging it. This alone may lighten your burden considerably. You must be able to recognise your symptoms in order to take appropriate steps to address them.
Here are some of the typical signs of stress:
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty focusing
People respond differently to stress, and while some people may be able to push through their anxieties and continue as usual, others could feel overcome with emotional distress.
Stress is the body's reaction to any demand made on it. When you sense danger, or even when you think about an upcoming challenge, your body responds by releasing a burst of hormones that increase your heart rate and raise your blood pressure. This "fight-or-flight" response helped keep our ancestors alive in the face of predators and other threats.
In today's world, the stressors are different but no less real: job pressures, family responsibilities, money worries, and deadlines at work can all trigger the fight-or-flight response. The problem is that this physiological reaction is meant to be short-lived. When stress is constant, as it often is in today's fast-paced world, the body never gets the signal to return to normal functioning.
When you're feeling stressed, it's important to remember that stress is a normal response to the world around us. It's natural to feel anxious, particularly in new and unpredictable environments and sometimes stress can help you stay focused while doing your job. However, when stress is no longer manageable, it can lead to physical and emotional problems.
What can legal professionals do to manage stress?
There are a few things that anyone working in law can do in order to combat stress.
Here are some tips:
- Get organised: This one is especially important for solicitors. Having a clear and concise plan can help reduce the amount of stress you're feeling. Knowing what needs to be done and when it needs to be done can help you to feel on top of things.
- Focus on the present: Once you understand that stress is a product of your thoughts and not actual events, you can start to focus on the present. This will help you feel more in control and less overwhelmed.
- Take breaks: It's important to take time for yourself, even if it's just a few minutes. Step away from your work and take a few deep breaths. You can also try some relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation.
- Exercise: Exercise is a great way to reduce stress. It helps your body release endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Even a short walk can help clear your mind and reduce stress levels.
- Eat healthy: Eating healthy foods helps your body cope with stress better. Foods that are high in sugar and unhealthy fats can make you feel more anxious and stressed.
- Get enough sleep: It's essential to get enough sleep when you're feeling stressed. Lack of sleep can make it harder to deal with stress and can also lead to other health problems.
- Talk to someone: Talking to a friend, family member, or therapist can help you manage stress. Sometimes it's helpful to talk to someone who will understand and be able to offer practical advice.
- Be mindful: Check-in with yourself from time to time. Being aware of your thoughts and feelings might assist you in determining what to do when stress approaches.
Stress can be tough to deal with, but it's important to remember that you're not alone. There are things you can do to manage your stress and keep it from getting the best of you. If you're feeling overwhelmed, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. They can help you develop a strategy to deal with stress.
Stress in the workplace
Everyone reacts to stress differently. Determine the methods that work best for you when it comes to dealing with stressful situations at work. Here are a few more ideas if the tension starts getting to you:
- Remember that stress is a natural reaction.
- Try yoga or meditation.
- Listen to your body, take breaks and get enough sleep.
- Talk to a doctor or someone you trust when stress becomes unmanageable.