Anxiety is the beast that refuses to compromise. Anxiety is the monster that doesn’t discriminate, and anxiety has over 40 million of America’s populace in its grasp.
Anxiety is the brute that won’t die.
Yet, it doesn’t have to control your life.
There are ways to deal with anxiety as a lawyer. These are every day, simple strategies to encourage consistency and calm. Before implementing these suggestions, however, you should deduce the source of your worries.
Why Are you Anxious?
You’d be exhausted if you took stock of all the things that cause anxiety. Many attorneys are anxious about money, how they’ll settle immense debts, monthly expenses, and family upkeep.
Rife competition at the office may cause anxiety. Demands of the job may be a matter of concern, and an attorney’s ambitions to supercharge his (or her) career makes him petrified.
What is the source of your anxiety?
Identifying situations in your circle that bring on undue anxiety is important, as they heighten the coping mechanisms you will use.
This is your first line of defense…and homework. Stop for a moment and consider why your waking hours are plagued by anxiety.
When you have that settled, you’re ready for a deep dive into America’s most famous mental disorder.
Everyday Tips to Deal with Anxiety as a Lawyer
Sadly, anxiety isn’t a beast you can slay. It stays with you and emerges from its dark lair when you least expect it.
While the monster cannot be killed, you can outsmart it. You can use these coping tips for anxiety as an attorney to cohabitate with the beast. You can keep it tamed and controlled on a long leash, one that doesn’t come loose easily.
These simple ways to deal with anxiety give you the defense you need to keep things under control.
If you’re not the sort of attorney to weasel additional items on your agenda, this one isn’t optional. You need to exercise.
Moderate, frequent exercise augments your quality of life and builds physical stamina.
It may also be one of the most effective nonmedical options to deal with anxiety. Many activities take place when you exercise. Your tense muscles soften; your frontal cortex activates, which helps to control emotional reactions, and your level of focus heightens.
If that’s not enough to convince you to get physical, research shows that exercise reduces anxiety.
Add a healthy, moderate dose of exercise to your daily schedule and your mood will improve. It doesn’t have to be super intense and time-consuming. Fifteen minutes of aerobic exercise may build your resilience to deal with fear and worry.
2. Encourage Someone at the Office
Your problems are important.
What you’re going through is a source of distress that requires attention. However, could this be a numeral that completes the equation? Have you ever considered that fixating on your anxiety intensifies the problem?
Perhaps this old Cherokee adage may put things in perspective.
To teach his grandson, an old Cherokee drew his attention to an internal struggle between 2 wolves. Each wolf is the opposite of the other—one evil and the other pure. The grandson asked his elder which wolf would win. The grandfather concluded with the profound, valuable principle: “The one you feed.”
Before my old man passed, he told me that what I ‘focus on grows.’ I believe that’s the exact message the Cherokee grandfather wanted to impart to his grandson.
Stop focusing on your anxiety.
Instead, find someone to encourage when feelings of overwhelm and fear creep in. When you comfort others, you learn about their personal struggles, which may also serve as an encouragement for you.
I’ve had many opportunities to engage others about their problems.
After absorbing all the things they experience in life, my problems seemed like a mustard grain in comparison.
When you seek out others to encourage, you’re starving your anxiety, not feed it.
3. Try Aromatherapy
Do you know someone who uses essential oils? You probably don’t expect much from them, but research speaks to an essential oil’s ability to offer support when you experience certain emotions.
Fear and agitation are common symptoms associated with anxiety. When you inhale essential oils, powerful phytochemicals may trigger the release of hormones.
Essential oils such as lavender, rose, lemon, and others may keep you calm and composed when you feel like a walking timebomb ready to explode.
Adding a few drops to balls of cotton in a non-plastic container, and sniffing at different intervals throughout the day, may be of tremendous help.
4. Examine Creation
Stop for a moment and absorb nature and everything in it. With your hectic schedule, you don’t get enough time to stop and smell the roses.
The science behind this therapy isn’t clear-cut. However, a study conducted in 2015 revealed that the prefrontal cortex of individuals who took a 90-minute stroll through nature had fewer activities, in comparison to those who didn’t. This region, the prefrontal cortex, malfunctions under stressful conditions.
Make time to observe the seemingly ‘insignificant’ things. Find enjoyment in the exquisite, variegated fur of birds. Consider the resilience of insects scampering about their business in search of food, although you may not like them.
Look at how the trees dance in the wind but never break or bow. Make nature your happy place. There’s no better time to get a healthy dose of the natural outdoors than early in the mornings before work. It might seem impossible with your schedule, but sometimes a little forethought and preparation make difficult things happen.
5. Focus on Today
Anxiety prefers to live in the future, with occasional time travels to the past. When you consider all the things that need addressing tomorrow or even in a month, your anxiety readings blow off the charts.
Stop centering your life on the things to come. Stop conjuring up vivid images of a million ways things could go wrong. When you’re an excessive thinker, this compounds the situation.
It’s great to plan ahead and put things in place for the future, but who really has everything put together? Who really knows what will happen in the next 10 minutes?
Work your way through today. Stop guesstimating and worrying about things that may not come to pass. Don’t send your brain into overdrive trying to cramp an entire month of planning into a few hours.
Live in the present.
Embrace what’s happening now.
6. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is a quick, simple tip to deal with anxiety. Focusing on your breath can keep you calm when embraced by anxiousness.
There is science behind how deep breathing affects the nervous system. Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with all that fancy jargon. But, if you’re a curious cat, PubMed has something to say about this life-changing practice.
I also wrote a detailed blog post about breathing techniques you can use to relieve stress and keep in control. Be sure to check that one out, after reading this one of course.
Once you start getting anxious or exposed to situations that incite anxiety, deep breathing may just change the tides for you.
7. Eat a Stellar Breakfast
Don’t skip out on breakfast (or any meal of the day, for that matter). Food doesn’t only offer physical sustenance. It is important for optimal brain operation. Yes, your diet not only affects how you look but the way you think and feel.
Have you ever stuffed your face in food, only to feel sluggish after the fact? Or, did you feel drained and burned out because of not eating?
It gets deeper than just a ‘sluggish’ or ‘burned out’ feeling. For years, research has been conducted to identify the link between our diet and brain function. Researchers studying children and adolescents discovered that those fed on unhealthy diets showed worse signs of mental health issues.
I can attest for myself, that skipping breakfast makes me feel awful and stressed. A good breakfast each day leaves you fit and energetic to handle difficult issues.
8. Take Your Supplements
What are your food choices? Do you eat healthy, balanced diets? Are you getting all the nutrients you need from food to support your mental health?
Many factors affect how your body retains or absorbs essential nutrients from foods consumed. Hence, even if you think your nutrient intake is up to par, that may not always be the case.
Supplementing your diet may help you deal better with anxiety. Fish oil, for example, contains Omega-3 fatty acids that improve how your nervous system operates. Vitamin D may also improve the release of hormones that control emotions.
While supplements may help you deal with anxiety, don’t just rush to pick up a few. Speak to your doctor about the supplement(s) you wish to take and the dose that’s needed for your body. We all absorb supplements differently, so it’s important to consult with your physician about that.
Anxiety doesn’t have to leave you panicking or fearful. It doesn’t have to tighten your muscles or leave a heavy, suffocating feeling in the chest. If you find that this monster is controlling your life, talk to someone qualified to support you.
As a mental health coach, I offer a free 30-minute session to help lawyers live better lives by working with them to fix the way they think. You’re invited to initiate a session when it’s convenient for your schedule.
Until then, see you in the next blog post.