December 16, 2019 Practice Points

Diffuse Stress Instantly and Incorporate Daily Self-Care

Tips to help you manage stress no matter how much time you have in the moment.

By Pilar G. Kraman

Due to the long hours, high stakes, incivility, and near constant adversarial work, the practice of law is inherently stressful. You, however, have control over how you feel, react, and repel (rather than internalize or pass on) the stress surrounding you.

Below are tips and suggestions for incorporating mindfulness into your day and how you can diffuse a stress reaction (such as an increased heart rate) instantly.

When You Need Immediate Help or Have Five Minutes or Less

  • Take several deep belly breaths. Focus on your breath.
  • Close your eyes. Feel the weight of your body in your chair.
  • Take notice of how you feel physically. Acknowledge the feeling, then let it go.
  • Change your perspective and position (stand up, sit down, move).
  • Adjust your posture.
  • Set an intention.

When You Have 10 Minutes or More

  • Guided meditation.
  • Take a walk.
  • Start a gratitude journal or a daily gratitude list.
  • Quick stretch or exercise.
  • Set a reminder to move more.
  • Call a friend.
  • Ask for what you need (e.g., associate help, technology help, time off).

Planning Ahead: When You Have an Hour or Beyond

  • Take an exercise class.
  • Use an essential oil diffuser.
  • Get organized or declutter your space.
  • Take a nap and work to get seven to eight hours of sleep most nights.
  • Engage a life coach, executive coach, or therapist.
  • Engage a nutrition coach or personal trainer.
  • Volunteer for a local organization.

Despite the unavoidable pressures and anxiety of our chosen profession, you (yes, you!) are in control of how you feel. In fact, research has shown that just 30 seconds of deep breathing can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. As you can see from the suggestions above, normalizing the notion of self-care and minimizing stress reactions does not have to take time or money. By following these suggestions, you will be better able to manage stress in the moment and set yourself up for a more successful and happier life as a lawyer.

Pilar G. Kraman is a partner at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP, in Wilmington, Delaware.

Copyright © 2019, American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association, the Section of Litigation, this committee, or the employer(s) of the author(s).