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By Lisa Caplan
Often when we are overwhelmed we can feel emotional, become paralyzed and not sure how to move forward. We may think that we shouldn’t feel that way, hold it in hoping it will resolve itself, which only adds additional stress. When we hold in our feelings, tamp them down, they tend to resurface even stronger when we are upset. It also can make working through our emotions and feelings difficult, because we are not sure what triggered the feelings. Holding in our emotions and feelings can leave us vulnerable for ongoing stress, anxiety, and depression.
Emotions and feelings are different. Emotions are physiological responses that are unconscious and instinctual activated by neurotransmitters and hormones released by the brain. Feelings are conscious and are a response to our emotions. It can be helpful to think of emotions as messengers to help us understand ourselves, how others affect us, and our environment better. Not all emotions are negative. Happiness and anger are both emotions.
Lately we have had so many situations from the pandemic, social unrest, as well as other uncertain situations that we have been flooded with emotions. It can be difficult to know how to handle them.
Here are some tips that might help:
- Don’t resist the emotion and your feelings. As humans we may resist a difficult emotion like anger. Instead, become aware of how you are feeling, but do not immediately act on it. Take a step back to identify where in your body you feel the emotion and how you are responding to it. I like to think of this as walking toward the emotion. To experience and feel your emotion might sound scary, but the more we resist, the greater the impact it has and the worse we feel. As soon as we stop resisting and allow ourselves to feel the emotion we understand our response better and the feeling decreases in intensity.
- Practice locating where in your body you feel an emotion. You can try this when you feel happy too. It doesn’t need to be a difficult emotion.
- Don’t judge yourself on how you feel or the emotions you have. As humans we have all kinds of emotions that others have shared too. Knowing that others feel the same way can help you feel connected to a larger group and can build empathy.
- If the emotion is about a situation or involves other people, then, with intent, think of how you want to handle the situation. Does it make sense to talk with someone to try to resolve it? Maybe you decide to journal, exercise, meditate to help let it go.
- Ask for help. If you are unable to work through your emotions, reach out to someone you trust or seek professional help. The more proactive you are in understanding your emotions and feelings the sooner you will be able to manage them in a healthy way.
For more tips on wellness check out the Wellness Portal https://www.msba.org/wellness-portal/
Please feel free to reach out to our LAP Committee Members and Volunteers https://www.msba.org/health-and-wellness/
Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C has over 25 years experience in her field, and extensive experience working with lawyers and judges in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and trauma. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, paddle boarding, sailing, rock climbing and doing triathlons.