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Passing the Stress Test: Coping Mechanisms for Lawyers

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Passing the Stress Test: Coping Mechanisms for Lawyers

Can you remember the last time you felt stress-free for an extended period? If you’re like most practicing lawyers, you would find it difficult to remember, or even imagine your life without stress. The reality is that the practice of law is one of the most stressful professions, as borne out in the research. However, you do not have to accept the status quo of stressful living and lawyering. In this course, Dr. Patti McCartney examines the anatomy of stress and offers key strategies to successfully manage the precursors to its detrimental emotional responses.

Transcript

- Hi everyone, my name is Dr. Patty McCartney. I am a board certified naturopathic doctor, an animal naturopathic doctor, holistic healthcare practitioner, and a cognitive wellness coach. For purposes of today, the most important qualification may be that I'm also a licensed Texas attorney. I am also the founder of lawyerdoctor.net, which is a platform of microcoaching videos, audios, and downloadable resources, as well as coaching services. I love being a lawyer, I always wanted to be a lawyer, I have the added benefit now of being a naturopathic doctor to be able to assist lawyers with the challenges that come from the practice of law that are unique to us. So I wanna begin by going over some learning objectives, which include understanding how stress affects the legal profession. We know that it affects us uniquely and learning about the origins of stress, identifying some stress do's and don'ts for lawyers, learning ways to assess our stress and key strategies that can help you de-stress, as well as discovering natural therapies to help ease tension. So as a little bit of background here, we know that over the last three decades there have been numerous studies which have documented the reality that the legal profession is facing a mental health crisis. None of us wants to think about that, but sadly, it is the reality facing our profession. In response, the national task force on lawyer wellbeing, which worked in conjunction with the ABA, published the "Path to Lawyer Wellbeing: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change." This was published in 2017. As I mentioned, the report was commissioned by the ABA, and it was done in response to the alarming number of lawyers who were, and again, sadly, still are battling impairment and mental distress issues. The result was a list of recommendations that were made to improve the current legal climate to one that is more embracing of wellbeing. And that's where coaches and natural health practitioners, naturopathic doctors like myself, functional doctors, and just wellness professionals in general come in. It is incumbent upon us, especially those of us who are dually credentialed in the field of wellness as well as law to understand and recognize the challenges that face our profession and to be part of the solution to help change the dynamics and create a new paradigm where it's more mentally positive for us as lawyers to work in and not such a challenging and distressing practice and profession. So as a result of these recommendations, some changes were made, unfortunately not enough. We now know that we do have lawyer assistance programs in, I believe every state now, but unfortunately a lot of the stress that we feel as lawyers is not reported. And many of us think that we thrive on stress. Well, for some of us, we do work better under a little bit of stress, but that's under the healthy stress, not the chronic stress that can impede our ability to function to the point that it can manifest into other mental health issues. So that's what I really wanna concentrate on today, is focusing on an understanding that, of course, there's a big difference between good stress that fuels you and gives you that extra bit of adrenaline, that's acute stress, versus the chronic stress that wears on us and starts affecting our ability to function. And as a naturopathic doctor, naturopathic medicine is encompassing of the whole person, the mind, body, your spiritual aspect, your lifestyle, it's really the original lifestyle medicine protocol. And functional medicine is a spinoff of naturopathic medicine if you're more familiar with functional medicine, but we like looking at the root cause of issues and also taking more of a proactive and preventative approach. So that's what I'm going to try and do here and hopefully give you some tips and techniques, strategies to approach stress before it becomes something that is affecting the way you practice or impeding your quality of life. So hopefully you will find this informative and beneficial and walk away with some tips that can help you in your day-to-day practice. Okay, let's now look at the history of stress. If you've talked to, depending on what age you are, I know this is an audience of younger lawyers, so it may actually be your grandparents that you may speak to about stress, and it may be a word that they don't use that often. And the reason why is because stress, the actual word stress was coined and the definition was created in the 1970s. Now, if you're in your twenties, that may still sound like a long time ago, but if you're looking at stress in general and how prolific it is and how much it affects our lives and it impacts society, it may be interesting to realize stress isn't a concept that's a hundred years old. It doesn't mean that the factors behind stress or the stress conditions didn't exist, they just weren't actually defined. So Dr. Hans Selye was a Hungarian chemist and he was also a medical doctor, specifically he was an endocrinologist. And as a medical student, he noticed that there were patients who had various different diseases and experienced many of the same signs and symptoms despite those different conditions or diseases. And because of that, he began to do research on those he was observing as a medical student and those as a practicing doctor. And that research led him eventually to the discovery of what he termed the general adaption syndrome. And he later identified this as stress in 1974. Interestingly, Dr. Selye later said he would not have used the term stress if he understood the way it would translate, because the word is very different in his Hungarian language. Stress occurs when the brain perceives a threat, and this perception is a stress response that triggers a system of reactions and it activates a flood of biological responses resulting in the release of adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormones. Most of us are familiar with that and understand what stress at least conceptually is. So note that adrenaline is classified as both a hormone and a neurotransmitter. You may not care, you may not have ever heard that, it may not matter to you, but if you're reading about stress and you notice that it's referred to as being both, that's because it actually is both. So stress is a complex biological response as well as a complex cognitive response. So if you're looking at stress, just realize that it's called epinephrine when it acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and it's adrenaline when it acts as a hormone in the blood. So maybe that'll help just give you a little bit of understanding of the different ways that stress impacts our body. It impacts us physiologically through our blood, it impacts us in our brains. So again, a little bit of stress can be beneficial. Chronic stress is never beneficial, because it means that we are remaining in a perpetual fight or flight state. I've read that lawyers tend to remain in a fight or flight state approximately 70% of the time, and we're going to cover more the detrimental impact of that. But just note that is not the way our bodies and our mind were made to work where we're constantly in that state. And interestingly here, I wanna also mention that we have more than two states. We always hear the fight or flight, but it's actually three, the fight or flight or freeze. And freezing is where you just are locked in place, you can't respond, something's happened externally or internally and you just, you turn inward and you're just frozen in that moment. If you've never had that happen, chances are you've seen somebody who's experienced that and at that moment it's just hard to move on. Interestingly enough also is the fact that you can rotate from different mindsets. And we rarely hear this, but you can be in a situation where you are going from the fight to the flight to the freeze depending upon your stress response to whatever is happening. So in other words, if you're in a traffic situation and you can become very upset because people are cutting you off or honking at you or so forth and, and you can feel like you're in more of a fight response and then something can happen, someone can honk their horn or startle you or you can hear sirens and suddenly you go quickly into a a freeze response. So just be aware that these are not defining for any length of time and they can interact with each other and you can actually shift from one to another. So if it's hard in a stressful situation to identify where you're at, that may be why. So hopefully that just gives you a little bit more information about the way your body and your mind responds to stress or respond to stress. All right, so now let's assess lawyer stress. And the reason this is important is, in order for us to effectively address the stress that we're experiencing, it's important to first assess at the level and the sources of the stress. So you can do this by thinking on an average workday, how would you rate your stress on a scale of one to 10? And again, stress can manifest itself in different forms. And you can look at one section of your day where you find it to be particularly stressful or just look at your day as a whole. And immediately going into a stress mode, then look at your whole day and evaluate on a given day, where is my stress level? Is it at a two? Is it at a 10? Hopefully not at a 10, but where is it? Or if you have a stress response, if you feel something triggering your stress, then think when that response is triggered, are you triggering at a 10 or is it just slightly stressful? So that might help you gauge the impact that stress is having on you on a regular basis. Now this isn't some acute stressful situation. Again, this the context of chronic stress. Also is the stress there as soon as you wake up? As I mentioned, if you wake up and you're immediately feeling stressed at what you have awaiting you in a given day, whether it's a trial, whether it's a deadline, whether it's a client meeting, or a partner meeting, whatever it is, if you wake up and your feet hit the floor and boom, you're in a stress response, you need to recognize that's something that you wanna address. You don't wanna begin your day in a stress response because that's going to impact the rest of your day. That's going to impact your thoughts, it's going to impact your perceptions, it's going to impact your actions. So be aware of that. Is there any routine or event that triggers your stress? Again, if driving to work every day makes it stressful for you to get to work without feeling rushed or frustrated, then consider putting on relaxing music or listening to an audio course or something that will relax you. You don't wanna begin your day stressed and if it's a routine, or if cooking dinner makes you stressed, or if you have kids and and leaving work to get there on time to pick them up, if that's the case, whatever the event may be, look at that and analyze what is causing the stress. Also, how good are you at reaching out to an appropriate person to seek assistance if you need help? And I would say the first part of that is how good are you at responding to this stress? How good are you at reaching out to the appropriate person for assistance or help if you need it? If it's a situation where you cannot handle the stress on your own, do you have a resource in your life that you can turn to, whether it's a spouse, whether it's a family member, a close friend, someone you can turn to and say, "this is an ongoing source of stress for me. Can you give me tips or can I at least discuss this with you?" So keep that in mind. There is always benefit to reaching out. And if you don't have that or if you feel like that point of stress is something that even talking to a friend can't allow you to work it out, then consider coaching or speaking to somebody who can help you in more of a professional format. And let me say, which I try to always say, I understand that lawyers do not like seeking professional help because of the stigma attached to it, because of the fear of it being reported or known or disclosed. There are resources available. My platform is just one where you can go on and access information in the form of coaching courses or through coaching services. I know there are other lawyer coaches that I'm sure are offering the same or similar type services where they are not being reported. Coaching is not going to be something reported the same as going to see, for example, a psychiatrist. So hopefully that will encourage you to reach out if you feel the need for some form of supportive service through a coaching or more professional format. Okay, and how good are you at giving yourself honest and constructive feedback? Sometimes because we're the one living this life, we're the one processing these thoughts, dealing with our own background and our own history, our own genetics, all the things that make us who we are, our own daily struggles, nobody experiences your life the way you do. So ask yourself, are you good at being honest and giving yourself constructive feedback? And that may go back to whether or not is this a situation I'm really able to handle now? Is this getting out of control? Is this stress getting to where it's impacting my relationships, my ability to practice, my ability to zealously represent my client, my ability to have joy in my day and to feel healthy and happy in general? If it is, then you can determine whether you're able to recalibrate and make the adjustments yourself to change that or again, reach out if you need further assistance because there is always assistance there that is offered in a more positive and supportive format than the traditional psychologist, psychoanalyst, psychiatrist format. Okay, how lawyer stress affects physical health. Of course, in addition to being a cognitive coach, I am also a naturopathic doctor, so I'm not going to touch on the subject of stress without mentioning the way that it impacts our bodies physically. In fact, stress impacts every area of our health and it can affect specifically muscle tension. If you're stressed, you can feel the muscles around your shoulders and in your neck tighten, but it actually decreases your sensitivity to pain, which you may think is a good thing, but in a chronic level that can impact your emotions and get those out of whack as well. And it slows your digestion. So if you're stressed and you're trying to eat, your digestive system is having to work at an extra pace, because it's not able to process food properly the way that it needs to due to your body being in that perpetual state response or perpetual stress response. It also increases blood pressure and you can notice your heart rate and your breathing are affected as well. So again, it impacts all areas of your physical health, but it also impacts your spiritual health, whatever your value system is. That can be thrown off based on the way that your body is responding and your mind is responding to stress as well as relationships, job satisfaction, even your financial health can suffer. Obviously for purposes of today, we're focusing not just on your job satisfaction, but your health overall. If you're not well, you're not able to do your job. If you're not cognitively well, you're able to perform your job, but not at the function that is optimal for you and optimal for your practice. So again, these are all meant as positive supportive tips to help you hopefully from a proactive standpoint, but also in managing the stress that every lawyer is already feeling in the practice. So I wanna reference here a 2012 study that was conducted to determine the connection between stress and chronic disease. We were just talking about how it impacts our physical health and the research was really the first time that a clear connection was shown between the chronic stress that people are experiencing, in our case as lawyers, and a loss in the body's ability to mount an adequate inflammatory response. Okay, so the importance of this and why I included it is inflammation is behind most of the physical ailments and maladies that we suffer. And just like a little bit of stress is good, stress triggers an inflammatory response, but think of it separately in terms of just a little amount of stress is good, but a lot is detrimental. It's the same with inflammation. Our bodies mount an inflammatory response as a protective measure, but if we have so much inflammation running through our bodies, our inflammation can affect us cognitively, it can result in chronic illnesses as was shown in this study. So I included a link here if you wanna check it out, and it's talking about how the stress hormone, when it's out of whack, does impact again our inflammation. And just understand that inflammation has a lot of negative consequences, a lot of negative consequences if not properly addressed. So inflammation can get out of hand and you don't want that to show up in some illness down the road. Okay, let's look at some stress do's and don'ts that should or hopefully will help in giving you a a little bit of guidance on how to respond to stress. Okay, accept the fact that we all have different triggers. So you as a lawyer may be affected by something and have a stress response that, say, a colleague is not responding to the same way or you no doubt have friends who are lawyers. And so if you've had a bad ruling or something negative you hear on the news with regard to a legal change or a legal outcome, maybe a big case that you have strong opinions on or you feel will impact your practice and you respond one way to the point to where you get stressed over it and someone else doesn't, understand you're gonna have different triggers or you can all be partners, and lawyers can be in a conference room, and someone can say something and you may have a different response. I mean, the list of examples can go on and on and court rulings so forth. The point is this. You're not going to respond the same way everyone else you know responds and they're not going to respond the same way you do. Your level of stress is going to be triggered by numerous factors that are not going to be the exact same for someone else. So I like to say give yourself a little bit of grace and here is where one of those areas you can. It's okay that you respond differently. You are made to be different. No one else is going to be able to live your life or practice the exact same way or make a difference in the profession that you can make. You're here for a reason, and you're in the profession, and you are a member of the legal profession, and you have the ability to practice law for a reason. So whatever contributions you can make, they factor in who you are and they are based on your uniqueness. So don't hold yourself to the same standard. It's okay that different things stress you. Being aware of those is the key here. And again, don't compare your level of stress to somebody else's because chances are if you feel like you're stressed all the time and you have friends that you went to law school with and they never seem to be stressed, chances are they are. They just may be better at hiding it. The statistics don't lie. They show the reality that the practice of law is hard on us. We're still human beings. We love being lawyers, we've worked hard to get here, but it's a demanding profession and it does take its toll. So just be aware that if you're responding differently, that's okay, and if your friends or your coworkers don't seem to have any kind of a reaction, don't assume that's the case. You're just going based on what you can see. But again, people process stress differently and all of those lawyers out there who love to say, I thrive on stress, I am my best when I'm at a high level of stress, that may be what they're saying and it may be something completely different in what they're feeling. So again, just keep that in mind. A little bit of perspective can be very helpful in situations like this. Breaking down the rumination cycle. As lawyers, we love to analyze, we love to think through a situation and we're very good at that. We're trained at that. Our analytical skills were developed through law school. They got us this far, they help us in the practice of law, but the downside to that is that it's hard to shut off sometimes. So if you're analyzing a situation and you find yourself ruminating over it, should I have made a different argument in that brief? Should I have worded that petition differently? Should I have asked different questions of a witness? How could that deposition have been more effective? I didn't ask the right things. Should I have asked this? Again, give yourself some grace here and understand that healthy questioning and self-reflection is good, ruminating over what you said or did or did not say or did not do over and over again is taking a toll on you and it's not productive. There is a reason we want to break that rumination cycle and disrupt that thought process, because there's no benefit from having something loop over and over and over again. And as a matter of fact, in cognitive therapy, research has shown that by reflecting over and over again, we can actually change the negative aspects as well. And I'm not referencing the breaking the cycle that I just mentioned, but let me give you an example here. If you're going through a negative experience and you're rethinking it and you're rethinking it, your mind can actually be adding on to the negative aspect of that beyond what actually happened. So the point is, by ruminating over it and looping it over again and again, you're not only just mounting the stress response, but you could actually be altering it in a more negative context than it originally was. There's been tremendous research that is shown that this is possible. And actually advertisers rely on this fact in creating images that aren't exactly the true image to try and get people to have a specific response. So because of this, by reliving a situation and ruminating over it, we can actually add to the stress and our mind wants to try and relive it to see if we can work through it. In PTSD, those who suffer from PTSD, research has shown one of the reasons that they continue to replay those events in their mind is their mind is actually trying to work through the events to get to a different outcome. But they stop short of that. Their mind won't let them get through if it's based on some traumatic injury or traumatic response such as in war, their mind will go so far, but their mind can't carry them through to a better result. But the reason they're reliving it is it's the effort to try and and work it out. You can't do that by ruminating, it just creates more of a problem. So as lawyers, it's great to analyze the way you're practicing on a daily basis to think, "okay, I could improve on this" or, "next time I'll raise that." Or if you get another shot at questioning a client, "next time I'll add this." Or if you hear an argument from opposing counsel, "that's interesting. Next time I'll take that into consideration." So it is fine to have the information to be armed with that for next time. It's not great to apply that to try and alter the past. You can't do that. So you need to learn to recognize what it is that is holding up your thought pattern and know that you can break through. I know I went a little off on that, I just wanted to explain how dangerous it is to stay in that ruminating cycle and also just be aware that if you focus the attention on interrupting that cycle, you're able to do that. One of the greatest things for me about cognitive therapy, which I have a separate course on that offered through Quimbee, but one of the reasons I'm such a big proponent on that in addressing stress, anxiety and depression, the key mental distress areas for lawyers is because we like control and this gives us control, knowing that we can break through these negative thoughts and these disruptive thought patterns to change them and refocus them. And again, we all like control, so it's good to know that we can do that. We don't have to stay stuck in that stressed state. So as I mentioned, learning to recognize when you're distracted, learning to recognize what is distracting you, and as I mentioned, training your thoughts to stay in the present. And this is not just on the ruminating aspect where you're going backwards, but also lawyers are so used to thinking forward. The court dates, the deadlines that are looming, the obligations awaiting us next week, next month. We plan our calendars out. Trials or depositions or motions for summary judgment or probate hearings, whatever the case may be, if you focus too much on the future, that can be a tremendous source of stress. So trying to stay focused on the present. You can't change what's going to happen three months from now and there's a reason for that. Are you can control is what is happening today, your present outlook, your present ability to focus on what you can do today, the difference you can make today. And if you're so busy concentrating on what may be coming in the future, that is impacting the present, it is impacting what you're able to do today. And sadly in time, all those thoughts that are spent on the worries and the what ifs, you don't get those moments back. So try not to spend too many of them on focusing on things they may never happen. Studies show that 95% of what people worry about actually never occurs. So again, try and keep your focus on what you're doing today. The better equipped you are to do that, the more successful you're going to be when next week and next month and three months from now happens. And in the same context, time management is a great benefit, not just on staying present, but also on managing the present time. And we all understand that our lives are dictated by calendars and deadlines no matter what area of practice you're in. And we all wanna achieve the most in the shortest amount of time. That's one of the ways we think we can set ourselves apart. And that's great and it's wonderful, except that it can cause difficulty in us being able to complete the tasks that we're supposed to complete. So again, this is focused attention on what you have on a given day, and it's not just a cognitive trick or a time management tip, it's also just an overall mental health strategy to focus on the day's events. We don't live a week at a time, we don't live a month at a time, we live a day at a time and more specifically a moment at a time. So again, staying in the present and managing your time more effectively in the present can help relieve a lot of that stress. And that's what these tips are guided toward is thinking about how you're spending your time in the present on any given day. For example, what is it that you love to do that you're no longer able to do, that you don't have time for? If there's a hobby or an exercise routine or any source of activity outside of work that you enjoy doing that you can no longer do, well, think about why you can no longer do it. And then think about what unproductive things like worrying about things and circumstances beyond today are you spending time on? So again, if you're ruminating and you're thinking of the past or you're dwelling so much on what may come, that ruling that may come, that negative outcome in a case that may come, that's depriving you of your effectiveness right now. And then you can think, well, whatever it is that is taking this time, whether it's something like that or it's just something in your workday that you spend way too much time on, consider ways that you can change that and alter that to make your day more effective and more efficient. One of the tips I like to give is, and I believe I give it later on, so spoiler alert, one of the tips for de-stressing is walking meetings. Taking meetings on the go. If you're in a position to schedule a meeting, have a meeting while you're out walking. Depending on where you're at and what the climate is, it may be a great time to get outdoors. It may be a much more challenging time to be outdoors. But consider a change of scenery sometimes can be a tremendous help for de-stressing and that's one way that you can take something that is otherwise negative. For example, if you have a client that's difficult to talk with and you have to be on the phone with that client and you do Zoom meetings, consider the option of doing an audio only meeting where you can be in a different environment and have a less stressed environment so you can have a less stressed response. So consider something like that. There are multiple little changes that we can make throughout the day to ease some of the stressors and shore up our time to be applied more productively. Okay, how stress affects lawyer cognition. We've mentioned this a little bit already, but stress not only impacts us physically, but it does impact us at a cognitive level. So factors, when you're thinking about how stress may be impacting your cognitive skill or your cognitive ability, which is so crucial to your life and your ability to practice law, consider the intensity or magnitude of the stress. The origin and source, whether triggered by a particular task or event, and whether that's something internal or external. Also consider the duration of the stress, whether it's acute or chronic. I've included a link here to an article that can give you some further guidance on that if you're interested. But these are all considerations. When you're looking at stress and you feel like it is affecting you, consider the ways that it is affecting you or it may be affecting you cognitively. Because again, we're in a cognitive profession. I am of the belief that if we're not cognitively at our best, and I understand we are all just human beings and we have days where we're sharper than others, days where we may have had less than a great night's sleep or we're pushing ourselves or we're feeling rundown, just be aware that that's okay, that's life, but if it's starting to affect your cognitive ability beyond just an hour or a day, then consider some of these factors. And again, if you're not able to reach a conclusion that you feel comfortable with, then consider speaking to somebody either in your sphere of influence directly or perhaps a coach or at least listening to an audio or accessing resources, something like that. So your lifestyle of course is going to impact your stress. Let's look at some of the factors that you can consider with regard to your lifestyle. Whether you're making the most of your current place or situation in life. If you're a young attorney, you may be thinking, "I don't wanna be here. This isn't the job I wanted. I have to take this job. I just got out of law school where I passed the bar, this is not my ideal job." What can you do to make it more ideal? What changes can you make? If you have a stressful boss or you feel like there is somebody who is in a superior level who is overbearing or maybe opposing counsel has a strong overbearing personality, think what can you do to change that situation? And if there are things, steps you can take to change those, great. If not, then look at perhaps ways you can change your response to that. Also, whether you're currently doing what you want or what others want for you or from you. So again, be true to yourself. There have been studies that have tracked lawyers' perceptions of themselves and life in law school versus those they have when they come out of law school and begin practicing law. And there's a great dichotomy, believe it or not, that is reflected between those two. So make sure that you are keeping the values that are your core values of who you are and what you want from your life. Don't let anybody take those from you. Don't let anybody alter those for you. You're in control of those. Your core values, your mindset, it's yours. It's yours alone, and you can control that. So you have more control over the way outside influences are affecting you than you may realize. So I hope that's encouraging, just as a reminder. You probably already know this, but just as a reminder. Keep the control that you have. Don't yield that over to somebody else. And whether you have an emotional support system, it's important. Lawyers have been shown to be among the loneliest professionals, which is just sad that we become so absorbed in our work that we isolate ourselves from family members and friends, colleagues and our social support systems, our emotional support systems. If you find yourself isolating too much because of work, think of a positive outlet and reach out to that emotional support system. You're gonna need that as you get through life and as you continue in the practice of law. You don't wanna leave those behind. So whatever steps you can take to reinforce those, great, and to the extent that they're there and healthy and already in your life, utilize those resources, tap into those resources whenever needed. That's what support is about. That's why our lives are built in such a way that we do have different support systems, and even at work. I know that can get dicey on who you're comfortable with sharing about stress or something like that, which is why it's always important to have those resources outside of work. And again, if it's another lawyer, even if it's a friend or someone you went to law school with, you may not be as comfortable sharing. If that's the case and you don't have those outside of the legal profession, then again, consider possibly reaching out to a coach or finding some other source of somebody depending on what your values are, perhaps a spiritual leader or somebody who has influence over your life, clergy, so forth. Just find somebody that can provide you some type of emotional support. And also, if you have a source for positive stress and an outlet for negative stress. One of the best ways to do this is to think about what the source of your stress is. If you're feeling stressed in a given situation and that situation passes or there's a particular, again, a specific client or a specific case or a specific opposing attorney, I know I've had plenty of those that were stressful just to think about. You could feel your blood pressure raising. You could feel the knots in your stomach or your head pounding or that rush of adrenaline that is in a chronic sense just at the thought of dealing with this difficult person. Well, you can't always change or disarm a difficult person, but again, think of ways that you may be able to respond more positively. One can I recommend is get your phone, turn to the notes. If you have an iPhone, I know they have a note section, I don't know about other phones, but turn to a notes section or a blank screen and just hit the record button or just start, you know, typing in the negative as if you're just literally purging out the negative thought into the notes section on your phone, whether you're speaking it out or typing out. Just purge it and then come right behind that and think, "okay, what happened good today? What's a positive today?" Or think, "how can I change that into something more positive?" Again, realize you have more control over your stress than you realize. You have more control over the way you're going to respond to a situation than you may know. Okay, now let's talk about nutrition and stress. There has been extensive research over the last decade or so connecting diet and mental health issues, diet and mental wellness issues. Whether it's stress, depression, anxiety, we are often eating on the go, and because of that, many of us don't make the best food choices. I like to say if you go to bar meetings, you may have the choice between carbs or more carbs, sugar or more sugar, and it's not going to be the most nutrient dense diet available to us in those settings. If you work late and you get takeout or you order into your office, there may not be great choices available. So to the extent you can, obviously we all understand that we need to eat the best that we're able to, make the healthiest choices of course for our physical health, but understand that your dietary choices impact your stress. So during times of elevated stress, we're drawn to foods that are, those carb rich foods. We're drawn to the sugary foods. I'm stressed, I'm just gonna grab a candy bar. I'm stressed, I just, I know for, I don't wanna stereotype, but for a lot of women, we're stressed and we want ice cream. We're stressed, you know, we want chocolate. And I'm sure there are plenty of guys like that too. So whatever your stress food is, think about that and realize that what you're eating may actually be tracking your mood. They've done research to show that people who are in a negative mental state at a particular moment, such as those who are experiencing a depression and in a depressed episode, that they are actually able to track the food that individuals are eating with the triggering or the activation of the depressed mood. So food may seem like it's comforting at the moment, but it may actually be impacting your cognitive wellness. And one good way to track that if you're consistently eating foods and wondering if that stress that you're feeling 30 minutes or an hour or two hours later has any relation, or even later in the day. Say you eat something specifically early in the morning or at the early part of the day and you're wondering, "is this impacting my stress level?" Keep a journal of what you're eating and write down and see is it affecting your mood? You may be surprised and if it is, that's a very easy fix. So also essential oils. I love essential oils. If you're not familiar with them, they are very condensed flowers and extracts from the oils derived from plants, trees, so forth. And because of their potency, they are often used in a medical sense as well as in just an aromatic sense. In fact, they've done research in bringing essential oils into ERs, and where patients were significantly stressed prior to the introduction of essential oils, they noticed a dramatic difference. And the same apply to the doctors, nurses, and staff in general and their ability to respond in a calmer, more relaxed way. There are actually ERs throughout the country that have introduced essential oils in those settings to experience that difference. I don't know hospitals that are currently doing so, but I know there's been research that documents that. So the point is, it's great having essential oils in your office, having a roller bottle, which is a mixture of essential oil and a carrier oil that you can rub on your temples if you're getting a migraine or stress headache or on your wrists. And also inhalers, nasal inhalers. I'm a big proponent of those. I actually recommend inhalers and roller bottles for mental health first aid kits and workplace wellness kits, because they are so beneficial and they act so quickly in resolving stress and helping your body relax on both a physical and a cognitive level. I've listed here some blends that are good for relieving stress, and if you have any questions about this, you can certainly feel free to reach out. There is ample research and information online, but these are just some blends that are very successful in relieving stress. And again, these are all essential oils. Essential oils should never be used directly on the skin. It is something that should be mixed with a carrier oil if applied directly to the skin. So that's why I'm a big proponent of nasal inhalers and also having a diffuser in your office or in your entryway for clients and opposing counsel to get the benefit of when they come into your office. Those are also tips worth considering and also just breathe, both literally and figuratively. Breathing exercises are a tremendous way of relieving stress. So one of the most popular methods is the 4-7-8 breathing process, and that's four seconds breathing in, holding it for seven, and then slowly exhaling at a count of eight and just feeling as you're exhaling. Imagine that stress being released just that you're relieving it. That's something you can do wherever you're at. If you're in an elevator by yourself, if you're in your car, if you're in your office, if you're just walking down a hallway or a corridor, that's something you can just take some deep breaths and imagine you're just letting out the stress as you're letting out the breath and see. Also just hitting the pause button. Sometimes you just need to step away and just take a break. Slow breathing can offer that. Comfort breaks are also a great way to factor that in as well. So neuroplasticity is what we've talked about earlier. The brain's ability to to reframe and readjust. Our brains are not locked in where they are inflexible and unable to change in response to environments even from our past. So just know that your brain is flexible and able to change. One of the ways, we practice neuroplasticity every day as lawyers, if we're learning new research, stretching our mind cognitively in the way we practice, but look at outlets that will allow you to do that, such as juggling or playing chess or writing with your non-dominant hand. Something that's challenging your mind, learning a different language, anything that can help the brain stay sharp. Laughing out loud. I've included that a link here about an article I found interesting about laughing yoga. Yes, this is a thing, so if you want another reason to laugh or another outlet, you may find that interesting. The practice of law is very serious, but it's beneficial to have a source of an outlet, whether it's memes or jokes or comedies or again, something like laughing yoga. There's actually guidance and information, downloadable information I believe you can find on the internet and you can access that through me or my website as well. Okay, we've already touched on the CBT and another benefit is make sure get enough sleep. Have resources like teas available to you. The herbs are tremendously beneficial, and whatever your contemplative practice is, make sure that you're keeping that as an important part of your life. I've mentioned some holistic remedies, there are also some additional ones here. The importance of taking a break. Because I am an animal naturopathic doctor as well, I always touch on the importance of companion animals and the benefit they can add to our lives. Anyone who has a pet or is a pet parent, I'm not a pet owner, I'm a pet parent. And I know the difference they make in my life. And most of us who share our lives with pets can attest to the benefits of them. So keep that in mind as a source of your relief. Just petting a dog or a cat can actually release your stress and lower your blood pressure. Key takeaways are mentioned here as well that I hope you gain from this course, but as a final word, let me conclude simply by saying that as a lawyer, a naturopathic doctor, and a wellness coach, if there is one thing I can do to help a fellow lawyer feel a little bit better, a little bit more satisfied in their work, a little bit happier in their lives, or a little bit healthier, I am so privileged to be able to do so. I'm grateful for Quimbee allowing me this opportunity to share on this important topic with y'all. My goal is never to minimize any mental health condition, but just to provide some alternative options for helping you cope better. Some tools, tips, techniques that may enable you to practice a little bit more effectively. Again, thank you for sharing your time with me and I hope something here that you heard will benefit you or someone you know. If you need the additional information, please again, feel free to reach out. And until next time, take care and be well.

Presenter(s)

PM
Patti McCartney
Attorney
DrPattiMcCartney.com

Course materials

Handout

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    • 1.0 ethics
    December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Available
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    • 1.0 professional responsibility
    December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Available
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    • 1.0 professionalism
    December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Approved
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    • 1.0 competence issues
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    • 1.0 general
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    • 1.0 ethics
    December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Available
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      Florida
      • 1.0 mental illness awareness
      July 31, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Approved
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      • 1.0 ethics
      Unavailable
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      • 1.0 ethics
      December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Available
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      • 1.0 ethics
      December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Approved
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        • 1.0 mental health/substance abuse
        December 31, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Approved
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          Iowa
          • 1.0 attorney wellness
          Pending
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            Kentucky
              Not Offered
              Louisiana
                Not Offered
                Maine
                  Not Offered
                  Minnesota
                    Not Offered
                    Mississippi
                      Not Offered
                      Missouri
                        Not Offered
                        Montana
                          Not Offered
                          Nebraska
                          • 1.0 ethics
                          Not Offered
                          Nevada
                          • 1.0 aamh (substance abuse-addiction-mental health)
                          December 31, 2026 at 11:59PM HST Approved
                          New Hampshire
                          • 1.0 ethics
                          December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Available
                          New Jersey
                          • 1.2 general
                          January 16, 2025 at 11:59PM HST Approved
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                            New York
                            • 1.0 law practice management
                            December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Available
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                            • 1.0 substance abuse
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                            • 1.0 ethics
                            December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Available
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                                        • 1.0 attorney wellness
                                        December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Approved
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                                          • 1.0 mental health/substance abuse
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                                          • 1.0 personal development & mental health
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                                                Credits
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                                                  Credits
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                                                  December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

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                                                  December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                  Status
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                                                  Available until

                                                  December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

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                                                  Credits
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                                                  December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

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                                                  • 1.0 general
                                                  Available until
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                                                  December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

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                                                    • 1.0 mental illness awareness
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                                                    July 31, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

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                                                    Unavailable
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                                                    • 1.0 ethics
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                                                    December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                    Status
                                                    Available
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                                                    • 1.0 ethics
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                                                    December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                    Status
                                                    Approved
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                                                      • 1.0 mental health/substance abuse
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                                                      December 31, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

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                                                      Approved
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                                                        • 1.0 attorney wellness
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                                                        Pending
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                                                                        Not Offered
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                                                                        • 1.0 ethics
                                                                        Available until
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                                                                        Not Offered
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                                                                        • 1.0 aamh (substance abuse-addiction-mental health)
                                                                        Available until

                                                                        December 31, 2026 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                        Status
                                                                        Approved
                                                                        Credits
                                                                        • 1.0 ethics
                                                                        Available until

                                                                        December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                        Status
                                                                        Available
                                                                        Credits
                                                                        • 1.2 general
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                                                                        January 16, 2025 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                        Status
                                                                        Approved
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                                                                          Not Offered
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                                                                          • 1.0 law practice management
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                                                                          December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

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                                                                          Available
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                                                                          Available until
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                                                                          Unavailable
                                                                          Credits
                                                                          • 1.0 ethics
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                                                                          December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                          Status
                                                                          Available
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                                                                            Not Offered
                                                                            Credits
                                                                            • 1.0 ethics
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                                                                              Credits
                                                                              • 1.0 ethics
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                                                                                    Not Offered
                                                                                    Credits
                                                                                    • 1.0 ethics
                                                                                    Available until
                                                                                    Status
                                                                                    Unavailable
                                                                                    Credits
                                                                                    • 1.0 ethics
                                                                                    Available until
                                                                                    Status
                                                                                    Pending
                                                                                    Credits
                                                                                      Available until
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                                                                                      Not Offered
                                                                                      Credits
                                                                                      • 1.0 attorney wellness
                                                                                      Available until

                                                                                      December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                      Status
                                                                                      Approved
                                                                                      Credits
                                                                                        Available until
                                                                                        Status
                                                                                        Not Offered
                                                                                        Credits
                                                                                        • 1.0 mental health/substance abuse
                                                                                        Available until

                                                                                        December 21, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                        Status
                                                                                        Available
                                                                                        Credits
                                                                                        • 1.0 personal development & mental health
                                                                                        Available until
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                                                                                        Not Offered
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                                                                                              Available until
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