If there is one thing all lawyers are good at, that is to work under pressure. You have deadlines to meet, toxic clients to interview, demanding seniors to satisfy and a variety of other high pressure work demands.
If you are a lawyer, you might be used to it already. After all, stress and the legal profession are inseparable. You cannot get away with it, but you can live with it.
Stress – The Culprit
Each person responds differently to stress. According to the “fight-or-flight” principle, when a person faces a stress stimulus, he may either fight or retreat from it.
Lawyers, in general, tend to “fight” for their clients. That is a given. If this “fight” occurs for a short term, there is no problem. In fact, acute stress helps release hormones that benefit the human body, especially the brain.
However, recent studies in neuroscience show a rapid decline of brain health among lawyers. Why? It is because of chronic stress.
Simply put, if the body continues to fight for a long time, the cells in the body wear off. Unfortunately, the brain cells cannot regenerate as fast as the blood cells could. Without relief, the brain cells may die one by one. This can even be irreversible.
That’s why it is advisable to de-stress yourself now and then. If you are a lawyer, you cannot simply quit your profession out of fear that might lose brain cells in the long run. You just have to live with stress healthily. But how?
The Lawyers’ Health Benefit Plan – The D.R.E.S.S.
There are five things to consider in your health benefit plan. The goal is to protect your brain from the harms of chronic stress.
For easier recall, remember the mnemonic “D.R.E.S.S.”, which stands for diet, recreation, exercise, social life, and sleep.
You might be tempted to skip meals due to hectic schedules. If you do so, you do not only starve your stomach but also your brain.
Since you cannot bring lavish dishes on your work table, you have to stash some snacks inside the drawers or in your pockets. These snacks must consist of “brain-boosters” like dark chocolates, almonds, nuts, eggs, dairy, protein snacks, berries, and tomatoes.
Minimize your intake of coffee, alcoholic drinks, sugars, and any processed foods. These may offer an instant energy boost which is, however, short-lived. If you really need to stay awake, eat almonds instead.
These nuts contain Vitamin E and magnesium that keeps the brain working at top capacity without crashing afterward. And if you need a drink, grab a protein shake or a glass of milk. Protein stimulates orexin neurons, which are brain cells responsible for mental alertness.
Take short breaks in between your work schedule and have fun. Convert all of your frustrations into something creative. Doodle, draw, paint, play an instrument, compose a song, write a story, sculpt, cook, bake a cake, design a house, play video games, etc.
Oxygen is primarily needed by the brain cells to survive. Although physical exercises help increase oxygen intake, there is no need to engage in vigorous activities.
Yogis and Tai Chi practitioners exercise without running or jumping around, yet they stay fit and healthy. The secret is slow, deep breathing. Not only does it increase oxygen supply to the brain, it also overrides the “fight-or-flight” response by stimulating the parasympathetic system of the body to relax.
You can start the exercise by inhaling deeply and holding it for 4 counts. Then, exhale through the nose for 8 counts. Repeat the process ten times or for 2-5 minutes.
If you have a busy schedule, always spare a few minutes for these deep breathing exercises. You can also do Yoga, Tai Chi, jogging, swimming, and any other aerobic exercises, if possible.
Social relations are often connected to longevity. Thus, it is important to go outdoors and connect with people. If you have limited time at work, talk with your colleagues.
Go to social events with your clients or your superiors. Also, find some time to catch up with friends, families, and loved ones.
This might be difficult for lawyers, but if possible, try to sleep for at least 8 hours every day. Ideally, you have to sleep between 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM since this is the usual period for your body cells to regenerate. Do not eat or drink any caffeinated products before sleeping time.
If you can’t sleep, don’t drink alcoholic beverages, instead drink some chamomile tea. This tea helps soothe and calm the nerves for a better sleep experience.
There is no such thing as a stress-free life among lawyers. However, you can live with it as long as you couple stress with D.R.E.S.S. as part of your health benefit plan.
Jon Fallow is a formal writer and he loves to write on corporate sizzling topics. His main areas of writing are Absence Management solutions and environment management at the organizations.