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Stress is a physical, mental and emotional response to life’s changes and demands. It is experienced in levels – from low to high. Not all stress is harmful. In fact, moderate stress can be positive, challenging people to act in creative and resourceful ways. When stress is chronic, however, it can be damaging and lead to serious health problems such as depression and heart disease.
Everyone experiences stress. Any number of factors may contribute to stress, including personality, physical and emotional health, personal relationships, major life changes, and social and job issues. It’s not always possible to avoid stress, but it is possible to change your response to stress.
Stress affects the body, as well as thoughts and emotions. Below are some common symptoms of stress.
Although it’s not always possible to avoid stress, there are ways to help minimize stress and become more resilient. If you recognize signs of stress, the best way to manage and alleviate stress is to develop coping strategies. Some coping strategies include:
Stress affects all people and all professions. Stress in the legal profession, however, is well-documented. Lawyers work in an adversarial system with demanding schedules and heavy workloads, which may contribute to increased stress levels.
Lawyer assistance programs (LAPS) are available to help lawyers manage stress effectively. Contact your state or local LAP.
Chances are that you know a colleague experiencing high stress levels. If you recognize that stress is taking a toll on a colleague, encourage him/her to develop positive coping strategies. Contact a LAP for additional support and resources.