The challenges of serving clients as an Attorney, while, at the same time, maintaining a healthy work/life balance in this time of constant telephone and internet connectivity are great. Stress is a given in the legal profession. Deadlines, the pressure to prepare documents, to give clients accurate, knowledgeable legal advice and/or represent your client “zealously,” in an effort to “win” your client’s particular case, along with the accompanying deadlines, coupled with the pressure of carrying a heavy caseload (causing one to work late into the night), on-going monetary concerns and other issues related to the practice of law and the goal of conducting a successful law practice, if left unchecked, can result in feelings of isolation, loneliness, anxiety, addiction, depression and other types of mood disorders.

Stress is an individual’s physiological and psychological response to some stimuli, either internal or external. In other words, it is a response to what is going on in a person’s world, and that person’s interpretation of what is going on and what it means.

Some examples of stressors might be marital or family difficulties, the loss of someone’s health or employment, or the death of a loved one or friend. In these, and many other personal and professional situations, the only thing that we have any control over is how we are going to cope with the stressful situation.

Some identified physical symptoms of stress can include: Tension, agitation, hypervigilance, sleep disorders, fatigue, frequent colds/infections, increased alcohol use, physical disorders, ulcers, colitis, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and high blood pressure.

Psychological symptoms of stress can also include worry, fear, panic, confusion, and a fight/flight reaction. Social issues could include poor job performance, disconnection/isolation from peers, and frequent accidents.

It is obviously very important to learn and practice prevention and coping techniques before stress becomes overwhelming.

Some initial suggested stress prevention techniques include:

• HALT (don’t let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.)
• Maintain a focus of control. Focus your energy on things you can change and control. The only person you can control is yourself.
• Break projects down into manageable pieces. Take things one day at a time, one piece at a time.
• Accept the things you cannot change about other people, situations and outcomes. (Acceptance is not the same thing as agreement or approval.)
• Maintain realistic expectations of yourself, personally and professionally.
• Take care of yourself – physically, mentally and emotionally.
• Set and maintain personal and professional boundaries.
• Get help for personal problems such as: depression, substance abuse, and other addictions.
• Maintain a balance between your professional and personal life. Balance your “energy.” Exercise, take time off, vacations, and get-away weekends.
• Relax and meditate, this may include listening to music. For others, imagining yourself in a peaceful setting may help you to relax.

Heidi Stewart offers individual career coaching services to assist legal professionals in developing a greater work/life balance, including time-management skills. She also offers career visioning workshops as well as continuing legal education workshops. She is dedicated to assisting other attorneys in the legal profession to gain the support they need to create a meaningful life.

Contact Heidi H, Stewart at (828) 225-6030 for an initial legal career coaching consultation, or to request information regarding upcoming workshops.