What, Me, Stressed? Eight Ideas for Managing Stress

You are probably under a great deal of stress as a young attorney trying to deal with difficult clients and office problems, still trying to figure out how to balance your career and personal life, and making sure that you’re living up to the legal community expectations. Some people thrive on stress, but for many of us, stress can be destructive, taking a toll on your body, causing headaches, irritability, loss of concentration, insomnia, digestive problems and worse.
 
Admittedly, you can’t control the myriad situations that produce stress. However, you can learn how to better manage your life and your reactions to those situations. Here are a few tips for reducing the level of stress in your life.
 
Set priorities for yourself. Plan ahead. Look at the big picture and assess what’s most important. Then make a to-do list, prioritizing the tasks. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a given span of time. Concentrate on the items that actually need to be done today. Save less pressing matters for another day.
 
Get all the help you can. If you really have more things than you can handle in a single day, consult with your supervisor or a senior associate. Don’t try to resolve conflicts yourself. Sometimes deadlines are not as immutable as they initially appear, and it may be that another colleague can team with you on a project. 
 
Slow yourself down. Work at a slow, but steady pace, focusing on accomplishing one thing at a time. Working on too many activities at once is stressful. It can make you feel fragmented and weary, and you are often more prone to making mistakes. 
 
Take mini breaks. Take a few minutes to get off the mental treadmill. Practice some relaxation techniques. For example, breath slowly and deeply while visualizing yourself in a peaceful place. Step away from your work area, stretch your arms over your head, shrug your shoulders, swing your arms. Or, take a brisk walk. You’ll be amazed how a few ten-minute breaks in your day will relax and refresh you.
 
Learn to say no. If you’re serious about reducing stress, don’t over commit yourself. Accept the fact that you simply can’t do eight hours of work in two hours or attend seven different events in a week. Concentrate on the quality of what you accomplish, not the quantity!
 
Express yourself. Don’t bottle up feelings. If you have issues that need to be discussed with a supervisor, associate, friend or family members, find a way you can express your concerns. In addition, seek support from friends; sometimes just venting frustrations with like-minded friends can be comforting. Between the two or three of you, you may be able to come up with a solution to a common problem or frustration.
 
Make time for yourself. Work hard, play hard, but don’t overdo it. Reserve some time for yourself. Take in a movie, take a brisk walk, immerse yourself in a book, or get together with friends in an impromptu manner. Whatever your pleasure, just do it! Don’t let other events rob you of this time. You have to make time for yourself if you want to be at your best for the firm, and for family and friends.
 
Keep your perspective. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Take each day and each task as it comes. When you have a tough day and things don’t go as planned, keep it in perspective. Everyone has bad days; you’re not alone. Remember, your goal is to enjoy the practice of law, not just survive it.