By Lisa Caplan
To say that 2020 has been challenging is an understatement. I have learned that with everything challenging there can be a positive take away. During difficult times we can grow and move forward in a healthy way. I want to share some of my favorite tips and exercises that have helped me personally manage 2020, and I plan to continue to use them.
- Limit Information Overload. This has saved my sanity. We have so many ways to get information that it becomes overwhelming. We find ourselves checking multiple devices and social media platforms for information. Part of managing stress is to quiet the noise in our minds. With intent, decide how much time you need to get your news. Usually no more than 15 – 30 minutes is sufficient. Pay attention to your body’s reaction as you are reading or listening. If your heart is racing, you have a headache, or feel stressed turn it off and find a way to decompress.
- Daily Meditation Practice. I’m not suggesting you meditate for an hour, unless you want to. There are plenty of apps like Headspace, Calm, and Mindfulness to name a few that have 3 minute options. The goal isn’t to stop the thoughts, it’s to quiet the noise by not having a “conversation” with every thought that comes into your mind. The more energy you put into the thoughts or how you are feeling the more it will snowball into more discomfort.
- Impermanence – Find comfort in the fact that everything is constantly changing, which means difficult times will also change. It’s like a rainy day; at some point the sun will come out.
- Keep the Positive. Positive changes can come out of difficult situations. Look at what is positive and build on it. As hard as it can be, focusing on the positive and what you can learn will help you move forward in a healthier manner.
- Appreciation and Gratitude – When we are overwhelmed with challenging situations it helps to write down 5 things you are grateful for each day. Try it for two weeks and see how it improves how you feel.
- Breathe – Holding your breath causes stress, and we often don’t even realize we are doing it. Remember to breathe.
- Pick 3, a Grounding Exercise – To bring yourself back to the here and now, pick 3 things that you can see, three things you can hear, and three things you can physically feel. For example, I can feel the chair I am sitting on.
- Left Nasal Breathing – this breathing technique triggers the part of the brain that helps you relax. Gently close your right nostril and breathe in and out through your left nostril slowly for eight breaths.
- Sweet Dreams– A simple breathing exercise to help you sleep. Breathe in through your nose to the count of 4, hold for 7, and breathe out to 8. Do this 3 times. It really works! Try it before you go to sleep or if you wake up in the middle of the night.
For assistance, please contact the Lawyer Assistance Program for free, confidential counseling. We can assist Maryland Lawyers in any state that you are living in. Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C, Director, (443) 703-3042, firstname.lastname@example.org.Toll Free 1(888) 388-5459. We offer financial assistance for mental health and substance abuse treatment. Please feel free to reach out to our LAP Committee Members and Volunteers https://www.msba.org/health-and-wellness/
For more tips on wellness check out the Wellness Portal https://www.msba.org/wellness-portal/
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.