By Lisa Caplan
Work can be very rewarding, but can also be very stressful. I love the work that I do, but anytime you are helping people it can be very challenging. As a clinician, like an attorney, I am in the helping field. Although the work is very different, some of the challenges are the same, and I think the following tips can help you stay grounded and reduce your stress.
Don’t stress over things that you cannot control. This is easier said than done. When you have a situation that is causing a lot of stress or worries, ask yourself, “What can I control?” What you can control may turn out to have nothing to do with the situation, and more to do with yourself. For example, you may not have control over a situation, but you do have control over your reactions, and you have the ability to take care of yourself (e.g., not skipping meals will give you the energy needed to help you feel better and handle the stress of the situation). Once you look at the situation, you will recognize what is within your control, and you can then make a decision based on that. Sometimes, when I am very stressed or worried, I ask myself out loud, “What do you have control over?” This might sound strange, but saying it out loud can be very grounding and help you gain perspective.
Put energy into what is really important. What are your values and goals? Make a list of what is important in your life, and when you are stressed, look at your list and decide if you really want to waste your energy on this stressor. Ask yourself if this situation will bother you tomorrow, next week, or next month. If the answer is no, then chose not to spend energy on it.
Stay positive by surrounding yourself with positive people. We all know who the negative people are. Typically, they are the same people who cause a lot of drama. Choose to be around positive people. Positive doesn’t mean that you don’t ever have a concern, but it’s the way you chose to handle your concern which is different. Positive attracts positive and negative attracts negative. Make an active decision about which type of people you want to be around.
Laugh. Laughing is very therapeutic. Think about how you felt the last time you had a good laugh. Recent research has shown that laughing causes a release of chemicals in your brain and can even help to reduce pain.
Take care of yourself. I think I say this in every tip sheet; so it must be important. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else. If you don’t make the time to care for yourself, your body will let you know by possibly getting sick, pulling a muscle, feeling tired, and all the other ways it communicates with you. You can’t really afford not to take care of yourself.
Remember you are only human. Go easy on yourself and talk to yourself like you would a friend. We all have difficult times, make mistakes, or don’t always care for ourselves, but it is never too late to make a change.
For assistance, please contact the Lawyer Assistance Program for free, confidential counseling. We have a network of counselors throughout Maryland. Jim Quinn, Lawyer Assistance Director, (443) 703-3041, firstname.lastname@example.org; Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C, Associate Director of the Lawyer Assistance Program, (443) 703-3042, email@example.com. 24/7 Toll Free 1(888) 388-5459.
Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C has over 20 years experience in her field, and extensive experience working with lawyers and judges in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and trauma.