In the demanding world lawyers face; becoming stress resilient is an essential component of happiness. Resilience is the ability to persevere and adapt when overcoming obstacles. It is the key to happiness and success at work and in life. The secret to the emotional intelligence competency of resilience is accurate thinking. It is important to challenge limiting beliefs and negative thinking. Managing stress allows you to excel in the workplace while maintaining a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.
The legal profession is currently experiencing increasing numbers of lawyers who are dissatisfied with their careers and abandoning the practice of law for less stressful career alternatives. Contributing factors include anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and questions relating to personal values and the meaning of life.
Unmanaged stress increases anxiety, depression, anger, substance abuse, and feelings of unhappiness- all of which decrease quality of life and workplace productivity. In fact, a study done at John Hopkins University found that out of 104 occupational groups, lawyers were the most likely to suffer from depression- more than three times more likely than average. High levels of stress are reported by almost 3/4 of lawyers and resulting in damage to the physical health or emotional well-being of 1/3 of these attorneys.
Increasing billable hour requirements time pressures are frequently cited as the reason for the high rates of lawyer dissatisfaction. Attorneys complain of little time for themselves or their families. In contrast, happy people are less self-focused, less hostile, more loving, forgiving, trusting, energetic, decisive, enthusiastic, creative, sociable and helpful.
The greatest source of stress is the tremendous internal pressure and anxiety that we create for ourselves through…
• worrying about situations we can’t control
• perfectionism – expecting too much of ourselves or others
• competition – turning every encounter into a win-lose situation
• self-criticism – focusing on faults, rather than strengths
• insecurity – looking to others to provide emotional security rather than ourselves
• powerlessness – failing to see the choices that are available
• hurrying – constantly pushing ourselves to perform better and faster
• comparison of our achievements, or lack of them, to those of others
• pessimism – expecting the worst from life
• the unrealistic expectation that life can be problem-free
How to manage change and take control of your stress
Take action to make things better. How? Experiment with these ideas. Begin with one specific behavior change item. Then, commit over 21 consecutive days to record, measure and implement successful change.