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Lawyers and Stress

Law today is seen as one of the most promising career choices and also the most opted. The recent spurt in the growth of law colleges all over the country is sufficient proof that this shall remain to be the most popular/opted choice in the coming decade. Pursuing law can be inspiring. But practicing law can lead to stress as well as success and most often both. Lawyers are operators of toll bridges which anyone in search of justice must pass through. This performance pressure and the sky-high expectations, however, takes its own toll and the lawyer ultimately pays a hefty price for being good at what he does best.

Countless sleepless nights and the unending anxiety of meeting looming deadlines bring with it its own stress and pain. Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, in one of his statements said that he would try to ensure that arguing and conducting cases before the court is a stress-free affair for lawyers and litigants.

The stress and heckling faced by lawyers in courts today multiplies manifold if the lawyer happens to be a woman.In truth, all stress is not created equal. Some stress is good for you. While too little stress can lead to boredom and depression, too much can cause anxiety and poor health. The right amount of acute stress, however, tunes up the brain and improves performance and health.

Ideally, if we choose activities and set goals that make us feel good, happy, and excited, we can at some level incorporate good stress in our lives and that further will bring a positive change in it. However, this good stress can, if not controlled properly or borne in large quantities, also convert to bad stress. This is because our stress response is triggered either way, and if we’re adding that to chronic stress, or several other stressors, there is a cumulative effect.

Lawyers can avoid professional burnout by developing healthy ways to cope with stress. Without doing so, we risk overwhelming our bodies. Too much stress results in all kinds of physical manifestations — ulcers, headaches, stomach aches, weight gain, heart disease. Treating these symptoms is merely a Band-Aid that doesn’t get at the root of the problem, which is stress.

It’s important to remember that stress is a personal response to an external stimulus. It’s not the stimulus that causes stress; instead, the stress lies in our body and mind’s response to it. Therefore, we are, at some level, in control of our stress. This is why “stress-busting” habits such as exercise or meditation are so effective. With stress, we are dealing with our body’s “flight or fright fight” reaction, training ourself physically, mentally, and emotionally to stretch your ability to handle a difficult situation.

Here are some preventive steps we can take to deal with stress and avoid burnout:

  • Knowing ourselves, and listening when our body tells us something isn’t right.

  • Look for signs of excessive stress, and take time to de-stress.

  • Set goals that are realistic — not perfect.

  • Be mindful of how to expend energy — both emotionally and physically.

  • Find meaningful activity outside of work that helps to enjoy life and relax.

  • Take vacations that reinvigorate oneself.

  • Establish a weekly exercise routine.

  • Take note of how and when to drink, eat, or use prescription medication. If there is a noticeable pattern of frequently turning to substances or other unhealthy behaviours (e.g., overeating, gambling) to reduce stress, one needs to cultivate better-coping skills.

  • Set boundaries and learn to say no.

  • Take sleep seriously and get in those eight hours.

  • Find a professional mentor or therapist who can help support our goal of living a balanced, healthy life.




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