I recently had to pause and re-visit the stress management techniques I tried to master when I was practicing law. Doing so made me recall the importance of stress management.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers when it comes to effective stress management. I feel a great deal of responsibility to the attorneys I represent and I’ve had to counsel people through some pretty difficult junctures in their careers. Between my professional obligations and the craziness of my household (two young children and many pets), stress management is something I have to work on constantly. For now, a few tips that I have found to be incredibly effective:
- Exercise: I didn’t believe it until I committed to a regular exercise routine but the mental benefits of exercise are incredible. The gym has never “done it” for me so, instead, I found myself taking tennis lessons, joining recreational sports teams, etc. The key is to find something that you enjoy doing so that you will actually do it!
- Take a deep breath: When you feel the pot is going to boil-over, step away from the kitchen and take a breather. Leave your office. Take a walk, grab a cup of coffee, and then come back to the fray. I know it’s not always possible to step away but, I also think that many of us tend to overstate just how impossible it really is to step away. We all have deadlines and e-mails that need to be returned. But, take time to be honest with yourself and if you really can step away for five minutes, do it! You’ll be much more effective after you’ve had a chance to breathe.
- Smile or (gasp) Laugh many times a day: It feels good to smile. Even better if you can come up with a reason to laugh. It sounds so simple but if you stop and pay attention, you might be surprised to find that the world seems to have stopped smiling. If you stop for a brief moment, think of something wonderful, positive, or funny and allow yourself to smile, you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes in your overall disposition.
Above all, know thyself. As I said at the beginning, stress management is not my strong suit. But, I do know that when I find myself snapping at people or waking up at 2:00 am for no apparent reason, I'm letting things get to me. And, that's when I know I have to go back to the simple things that help me manage my stress levels. I really believe that stress is responsible for a lot of illnesses and other difficulties. So, it’s worth it to take the time to think about the way you manage stress and learn to adopt some good, healthy habits!