5 practical tips for managing stress and anxiety leading up to EOFY
There are numerous issues facing lawyers, and the end of financial year (EOFY) can prove especially trying, meaning lawyers have to do more to look after themselves, writes Terry Robson.
As a lawyer, the day-to-day operations of running a busy practice or working in a firm can be stressful as it is without the added pressure in the lead up to the end of financial year (EOFY).
With EOFY fast approaching, stress and anxiety levels tend to elevate greatly, impacting on employee productivity, retention, and staff morale.
Here are 5 simple but important tips lawyers can use to manage stress and anxiety, as well as avoid corporate burnout as the EOFY looms.
Breathing is the most natural thing in the world, but it’s the quality of breathing that can make a real difference to stress levels. When you’re under stress, your breathing pattern changes, and you typically take smaller, shallower breaths that can actually prolong feelings of anxiety. Controlled breathing helps to keep you centred and brings you into the present moment.
2. Cultivate mindfulness
Mindfulness is about being present in the moment. When you feel overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, “attention training” is a strategy that recognises your internal and external stressors, enabling you to stop them in their tracks. By proactively observing what is going on around you, you create an open line of communication between your body and your mind. Cultivating mindfulness also helps bolster your personal resilience during stressful times, which is a powerful tool lawyers can use for improving performance and productivity.
3. Eat well and stay active
Reaching for sweets like chocolate or biscuits when you feel stressed at work may not actually reduce your stress levels. Research has proven that eating healthy foods like nuts, blueberries and foods which contain vitamin B reduces stress and increases serotonin — which is a natural antidepressant. Every food choice we make can either help us balance our mood or stress us out.
Likewise, exercise is an easy and effective way to ensure good mental health. Moving your body is good for the brain as it releases endorphins, giving us that “feel good” vibe. Endorphins help reduce stress and anxiety as it triggers positive feelings in the body. Exercise also improves focus, attention and concentration. When your heart rate is elevated through exercise, your adrenal glands produce a chemical called norepinephrine, which increases your alertness.
The relationship between stress and sleep is a symbiotic relationship. If you don’t get enough sleep, your stress levels elevate, and if you are already stressed, it makes it difficult to fall asleep.
Creating a healthy sleeping cycle involves winding down your brain before getting into bed. Practical tips to help you wind down include turning off (or turning on flight mode) all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime, keeping a bedtime journal to get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper, and using essential oils like lavender on your pillow or in a diffuser to help your body relax. This will work wonders for your productivity.
5. Form positive relationships
The simple act of speaking to someone about your problems can automatically result in a decrease of your stress and anxiety. This is why forming positive relationships at work is so important. Recent research from Harvard University has shown that people who confide in others have better health both physically and mentally as it protected their body against damaging internal stresses.
Much like confession, sharing your troubles with trusted friends or colleagues can ease the burden of stress or clear up your worries altogether even if they haven’t actually solved your problem.