4 Tips for Handling Workplace Stress for the Busy Legal Professional
Workplace stress is a daily hazard for the busy paralegal, attorney, court reporter, and anyone working towards critical legal deadlines and deliverables. Add international depositions on the horizon can add headaches to the downtime of getting there. Long hours and heavy workloads—especially in crunch time—can send any legal professional’s stress levels skyrocketing. That stress can consume your personal and professional life.
Finding healthy ways to minimize stress is extremely important. When not properly addressed, stress can negatively impact a person’s general well-being. Physically, stress can raise blood pressure, stop healthy eating habits, and impinge on time for physical activity. Psychologically, all work and no play can drive away other people and damage self-image. Being overwhelmed with all you have to do can stop you from remembering all you have accomplished. A healthy work-life balance will help you handle both better. Here are a few tips to help.
1.TIME OUT! Take a moment for yourself
Set aside some time each day to gather your thoughts, take stock, decompress, or whatever you want to call it. But make a point of doing it—no matter what!
SCHEDULE YOU TIME. Literally put it on the calendar as “unavailable” or “busy”. Choose a day or two a week with specific time to see a friend or do something that makes you feel work-free. To be successful:
- Pick a time that will likely work with your daily schedule.
- Schedule things you’ll look forward to, like a date with a friend or buy tickets ahead to a movie you really want to see.
- Set phone reminders a day ahead.
- Do NOT break plans with yourself or anyone.
- Put this time on your shared or work calendar if you have one. You don’t have to share details. Just put “appointment” if that works.
For example, prepare mentally in the early morning by walking your dog. Having that block of time set aside every day can help relax and set a positive focus for the day. The brisk pace of a pooch helps get the endorphins going first thing and takes care of the next stress-busting boost, too!
ON THE JOB: Take a moment in the moment. Rather than waiting until your heart rate is up, your patience is low, and you feel like crying in the bathroom while eating a box of chocolate cream bombs—go for a walk. Or, take a moment to breathe. Get a tea for a no- or low- calorie break.
When you are busy, you can feel overwhelmed and think that taking a minute is counterproductive. You just have too much to do. But, taking a few minutes can increase focus and performance—as well as boosting morale and team-building for those around you.
COMBINE WORKPLACE STRESS BUSTERS! Finding a friend to walk, go to the gym, or cook with can really help pack in the stress-busting habits that will keep you happier and more productive. Can’t think of anyone? Consider joining a local club, class, or activity group.
2. HEALTH: Get proper exercise and nutrition
Lots of people hate this one and are sick of hearing it. But there’s a reason people are resistant to hearing this: because it’s true. Being stressed can make the quick fix, feel-good of the candy dish pile on pounds and cause your blood sugar to tank. In reality, that nutritional deficit is a big no-no that leaves your defenses weaker.
EXERCISE. The psychological benefits of exercise are just as great as the physical benefits. You don’t have to train for a Spartan race! Just find a form of exercise that appeals to you, come up with a schedule and stick with it, and enjoy the difference.
GET OUT! Just being outside can quickly release stress. Try to get out for afternoon walks or take breaks for stretching or going around the block. Seeing a blue sky and some greenery is good for you.
BE YOUR OWN NUTRITIONIST. What you eat also greatly affects your energy levels and moods. Again, you don’t have to go crazy, but replacing unhealthy items in your grocery cart with fresh fruits and vegetables will have a tremendous impact. Look for quick, nutritious recipes to try. You may find cooking relaxes you!
3. MINDFULNESS: Focusing on the task at hand and being prepared relieve workplace stress
Mindfulness is all the rage—and for a reason. Taking stock of the moment or taking a moment to take stock and appreciate all you have is incredible for busting stress. If you can, a few minutes of simply walking or sitting somewhere with a little view and focusing on your breath can break dull moments, anger, stress, or anxiety.
CHECK THAT WORKPLACE STRESS! We all have those days we know in advance will be overwhelming because there is so much to do. Checklists can make a hectic day more manageable. Come up with the list in advance, and literally check off tasks as they are completed. It will keep you focused on each task in its place, motivated as you proceed down the list, and give you that earned sense of accomplishment.
DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP over incomplete tasks, delays, or minor mistakes. Instead, use it to go forward stronger:
- Look at the moment or series of events leading up to the setback.
- Assess what you could have done better. (Including asking for help.)
- Transform the disadvantage into an advantage by learning from it.
- Move on.
Beating yourself up distracts you from seeing the positive and getting more done. Every mistake is an opportunity to reassess, ask for help, and grow.
4. GET HELP! Realistic workloads and asking for help keeps teams strong
When it comes to the busy caseloads, working with the right court reporting professionals does exactly that: removes stress triggers.
GET HELP AND STRENGTHEN TEAM BONDS. Here are a few ways to increase team spirit and reduce workplace stress on the job:
- Let your boss or project leads know where you are at and how you honestly are doing managing your workload.
- Have regular meetings—scheduled or worked into daily coffee routines—that allow you to all stay in the know about workloads.
- Ask for help from colleagues.
- Offer help to colleagues when you have time. Team spirit will soar and your goodwill will come back around.
- When working overtime, keep a log and ask for that time to be compensated in some way. An extra work-from-home day or day off can really help decompress after busy deadlines.
- Celebrate the victories. Team dinners and celebrations help build bonds and reward high-stress crunch times.
GET OUTSIDE HELP FROM SKILLED PROFESSIONALS. Crunch times need more staff than the day-to-day. Outside help during high-volume times or out-of-town business helps keep loyal employees fresh, focused, and safe from burn-out.
With a trusted, reputable agency covering your proceedings you don’t need to worry about the reporter being late or unprofessional:
- You know your transcripts will be in your online repository on the due date.
- You know the video will be top quality high definition, synced to the transcript if that’s what you requested.
- You know the customer service throughout will be second to none.
That knowledge relieves the worry of the unexpected, so you can confidently focus on other pressing matters with significantly less weight on your shoulders!