Stress Levels Rising?

Six tips for reducing stress and upping energy


Stress Levels Rising?

Is stress detracting from your ability to do your best work, and to enjoy your time off work? If so, it is time to take some positive steps to boost your energy levels and regain your focus. Choose one or two tips from the list below, experiment with them, and notice the benefits they bring.

  1. Get the clutter out of your head. If you keep your To-Do list in your head instead of a system, this will increase stress. Maintain a file list capturing the projects you have on the go. Hold a weekly meeting with yourself to download all of the To-Dos for the coming week. Look for any stalled projects and choose one to get moving on. Any critical projects that aren’t yet urgent? Select one to get an early start on.
  2. Set boundaries around your time. Many lawyers have ceded control of their day to others. Open door policies, answering emails as they come in, scheduling meetings at times that suit others, all these contribute to a work environment that provides no time for focused work, and this is stressful. Balance being responsive and available with getting uninterrupted time for your priorities. When is your brain most alert? Protect this time. Advise your colleagues and staff of your plan so they can support you with this.
  3. Pause. When your thoughts are racing, and you can feel yourself tensing up, follow the advice of Harvard cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson. Place your hand on your heart and take a slow breath in, and then slowly exhale. Think of something that makes you smile while you take four to ten slow deep breaths. This sends a physical signal to your brain that you are relaxing and deactivates the stress response.
  4. Relationship check. Who are the people that make your life lighter and brighter? What can you do to spend more time with them? Next, think about the people who drag you down. What can you do to spend less time with them?
  5. Reduce the things you tolerate. What are you tolerating in your life? Make a list of the things you are enduring. Now review the list and reflect. What is one thing you can eliminate or reduce? This might lead you to taking action on tidying your workspace, reducing your commute by working a day from home, or getting off a committee that you’ve been on for too long. What can come off your list?
  6. Closing Ritual. Initiate a simple five-minute routine at the end of the workday. Take a moment to jot down what you accomplished during the day and follow this with some quick planning. This tip comes from former lawyer and author Daniel Pink in his latest book “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.” Pink writes: “The science of ending suggests that instead of fleeing, we’re better off reserving the final five minutes of work for a few small, deliberate actions that bring the day to a fulfilling close. Begin by taking two or three minutes to write down what you accomplished since the morning. Making progress is the single largest day-to-day motivator on the job. But without tracking our ‘dones,’ we often don’t know whether we are progressing. Ending the day by recording what you have achieved can encode the entire day more positively (p. 172).” Dan adds that it is also valuable to use the remaining two or three minutes to lay out your plan for the following day. This will help close the door on today and energize you for tomorrow.

There is much each of us can do to reduce the stressors and up our energy and satisfaction. Try one or more of the above suggestions or any others that come to mind and notice the benefits. One final tip: remember the goal isn’t perfection, but improvement.

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