Posts Tagged ‘stress relief’

Whose job is more stressful, yours or a judge’s?

Monday, December 20th, 2010

I’m not actually entering into this fray – or suggesting there should be one. However, Judge Primeaux of the Mississippi 12th District posted “Ten Commandments for Reducing Stress” on his blog today and it occurred to me that it might be as helpful to paralegals as to judges:

This from a judges’ meeting a couple of years ago.

I    Thou shall not be perfect or even attempt to be.

II    Thou shall not try to be all things to all people.

III    Thou shall not leave undone things that ought to be done.

IV    Thou shall not spread thyself too thin.

V    Thou shall learn to say “no” without guilt.

VI    Thou shall schedule time for thyself.

VII    Thou shall have something to look forward to every day.

VIII    Thou shall sometime be slack, idle and inelegant.

IX    Thou shall keep thyself happily fit.

X    Thou shall embrace the present and let go of the past.  

For many paralegals number III, “Thou shall not leave undone things that ought to be done,” may seem like a prescription for increasing stress if taken individually. But this need not be the  case. As discussed in several posts here and at length in The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient and Professional, stress reduction may best be accomphished by learning to manage time, work space, workload, dockets, clients, and relationships with attorneys – all those things that create the stress in the first place. Failing that, try following the judge’s commandments.

The Secrets to a Stress Free Career

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

I am on the OLP Advisory Board so of course I attempt to read everything that come from OLP. However, May was a very busy month and then June was spent in a cabin in Maine where I limited by work mostly to Working with the Elder Client.  So it is somewhat strange (and embarrassing) that it was only be following a link  back to an Australian site that led one viewer to this blog that I found myself reading, “The Secrets to a Stress Free Career – What Your Employer Doesn’t Want You to Know,” by Chere B. Estrin, the Chairperson of the OLP Board of Directors. So after doing my truly great posts on stress, I find Chere writing,

Article after article has been written about stress. It’s the same old, same old: manage your stress, have a plan, stay positive, visualize your last trip to Hawaii in the sun-soaked terrain, exercise daily and get regular hot rock massages. That, or have a glass of good merlot, get in the bathtub with lots of Evelyn & Crabtree and listen to old Doris Day songs. I don’t know where some of these authors get this stuff, except to say that they must live in Dreamland, somewhere east of here. Have they ever worked in a law firm?”

Of course, she’s not the only one noting the particular stress of working in a law office as readers of Paralegal Hell are already aware.  But as usual Chere goes well beyond such observations and provides invaluable insight.

Normally I might just post a link to her article, but I fear that some readers might feel my ability to accurately judge Chere’s insight has been unduly influenced by the wonderful things she said about Working with the Elder Client. So I am going to take a minute or two to cull out some of that insight in hopes that you’ll follow the link and read the whole article. Then you can judge for yourself.

First, Chere dispels some of the foremost myths about stress:

Myth #1: Stress is normal for anyone working in the legal community.
Myth #2: Stress is caused by working too much.
Myth #3: Stress is cured by working fewer hours.
Myth #4: Stress is cured by working more.
Myth #5: Stress is cured by focusing on stress.

Then Chere gets to the truth about stress:

Work does not give you stress. Feeling bad about work gives you stress. This means that changing your work hours, responsibilities, priorities or work environment is meaningless, unless it also changes the way you feel at work. Those stress management courses will not do the trick either, unless they can achieve just that.

Fortunately, she ultimately seems to agree with me (which does have something to do with why I think her insight is invaluable):

Most common sources of stress for legal professionals undefined deadlines, lack of control over time, difficult clients, escalating intensity, no margin for error – are outside of a paralegal’s personal control.  What truly determines how much stress these circumstances cause paralegals is the degree to which these “givens” are perceived or interpreted as threatening. Any perceived threat – real or not – triggers our body’s “fight-or-flight response.” Over time, it is possible to modify how your body reacts by paying attention to how you perceive situations as threatening. Ask yourself whether an issue really justifies your current reaction to it – or, whether or not it will matter at all a month later. Practiced regularly, you can keep matters in perspective so that stress is relative to the importance of the situation.

In the end the one thing anyone can control is how they manage the things they can’t control! Anyway, take a few minutes and read the whole article here.

Controlling The Scream

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Being an empowered, professional paralegal is all about taking control of that which you can take control. In many circumstances all  you can control is yourself. Realizing that and managing the consequences is, however, far better than any alternative. So, I was interested in the responses to a question posted on the Paralegal Today listserv:

What do you do to relieve your stress level when all you want to do is scream, set your desk on fire and run away??
 
HELP!!    
 
 
 
 
 
Naturally, I have my own answer to this question, but for this post  I am handing the keyboard over to a guest, Kelly K. Corbin, TBLS, ACP,  of  CORBIN LEGAL SERVICES in Seabrook, Texas. Here is her response, posted in full with her permission:

My approach is similar to Nancy’s. [I walk around the block. Usually after I fire off a really gripe-y email (via my personal account) to a good friend.]  Then I take it a step beyond that.  I consciously choose to take my power back.  I choose not to let some outside influence (my attorney, co-worker, opposing counsel, my computer, busted copier, whatever) take my power away.  I make a conscious decision not to let it have power over me.  I realized a few years ago that there was no situation that was worth the rise in my blood pressure.  I LOVE my job and I am a workaholic by nature.  I admit that I thrive on the stress, but I have found that there is a big difference in the adrenaline rush of the stress of trying to get it all done and done well and letting outside influences (typically completely out of my control) exert a power hold on me.  You can’t control a situation, but you can control how you react to a situation!!!  Cliche?  Yes!  True?  Absolutely!    I have worked for some pretty unreasonable attorneys in my many years in this practice, but even the most unreasonable has never fired someone for taking a deep breath, taking a quick 5 minute walk or standing up for themselves.  Everything we do in life is a choice.  I CHOOSE to retain my power! Thanks for your contribution, Kelly.

PS – if all of this zen stuff isn’t working for you, maybe it’s time to scream (literally), set fire to your desk (figuratively) and RUN AWAY!!!!!!   Life is too short not to spend your day doing something you love with people you love (or at least can stand to be around [smile!])!!!!!!!!
HANG IN THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!