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How to Cope With Stress in The Legal Profession

Lawyers are high achievers by nature and necessity. To succeed in the competitive, pressure-filled legal industry, successful attorneys have to have an exceptional work ethic and perseverance. But performing at a heightened capacity brings increasing levels of stress and mental health issues. 

Mental Health is a complex issue that still has some stigma surrounding it, especially in competitive industries like the legal industry. Since the pandemic, we have only seen these problems become more evident. There has been a significant rise in people feeling copious amounts of stress, depression and anxiety.  

As such, this blogpost will focus on ways to identify and cope with the mental health issues that can come with working in the legal industry.

How to Identify Stress 

Stress is the body’s response to pressure. When we experience pressure, our bodies produce stress hormones which trigger a fight or flight response. In its healthiest form, stress can be helpful and can aid in our motivation to get things done. Once that stressful event has passed, our body’s stress hormone level returns to normal. However, this is not always the case. Periods of prolonged stress might leave you feeling overwhelmed and unable to recover, giving rise to mental or physical health issues. 

How to Cope With Stress 

Talk to Someone

Talking to someone you trust or therapist you feel comfortable with can be a powerful step for lawyers to proactively improve their mental wellness. In addition to helping you develop good coping mechanisms so you can manage stressful situations better, therapists can act as a non-judgmental outlet to vent. 

Move Your Body

Moving your body is time well spent for anyone, especially those with a demanding schedule. Regular exercise helps keep your body healthy and helps combat stress by stimulating endorphins and reducing levels of stress hormones. 

Create Boundaries 

A lack of strict boundaries is a major source of stress for lawyers. To help manage stress, it’s important to set and express your workload limits and boundaries. For example, if you’re a solo lawyer, set a realistic limit for how many clients and how much work you can take on. Then, make sure you stick to it.  If you work at a law firm, if possible, tell your boss when too much is too much. While this may seem uncomfortable, knowing your limits can help keep the detrimental effects of lawyer burnout at bay.

Practice Mindfulness 

You can’t eliminate stress, but you can change how you respond to it. This is why mindfulness is so powerful. Mindfulness—or learning to pay attention and stay present in a moment—may seem simple, but it can be challenging to slow down and focus your stressed mind. 

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