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Tired of Lawyer Stress and Anxiety? Try This!

So many of the lawyers who contact me say they are tired of lawyer stress and anxiety. They say they have hit their maximum level of stress. Does this sound like you?

Lawyers often tell me they are burned out, feeling anxious, unhappy, and quite often are depressed.

It’s possible that the practice of law just zaps you from time to time.

Or maybe you’re stuck in the wrong career fit and it’s becoming too much to bear.

Either way, I want to share a helpful exercise with you that can calm your mind and help you de-stress in any given moment.

Whether you’re stressed out at home simply thinking about work, you’re commuting to or from work (but not operating a vehicle), you’re freaking out in your office, or you’re unable to fall asleep, I want you to try this exercise:

Box Breathing

I learned box breathing in a yoga class and have found it to be surprisingly effective. I’m not some hardcore yogi, so don’t be thinking you need to be way into yoga to try this. And please don’t let the word “yoga” scare you away if you’re not a kale-eating Californian.

Box breathing isn’t just for yogis – it’s also used by the U.S. Navy SEALs to help them reduce stress and stay calm.

Let me tell you how to do it.

Think of box breathing as slow breathing through your nose while counting to the number 16 over and over again – except you’re breaking the 16 down into 4 sets of 4. Those 4 equal sets of 4 are what makes it a box.

When counting to 4, you’ll be counting in your head and not saying anything out loud. The count is not just “1-2-3-4”. Instead, think of it like “1 one thousand, 2 one thousand…,” except you can skip thinking through the “one thousand” part. Just pace yourself as if you are thinking it, so that you count slowly.

Here’s what to do:

1) Inhale. With your mouth closed, take a slow, deep breath in through your nose while counting to 4. Pace yourself so that your lungs and belly get full right when you hit the number 4.

2) Hold your breath. Count to 4 again while holding your breath the entire time.

3) Exhale. Slowly, let all of the air out through your nose while you count to 4. Pace yourself so that there’s nothing left in your lungs when you hit the number 4. It can be tricky to exhale slowly, so the secret to doing this is to close your throat, but keep it open just enough to let air out. This should make a quiet, whooshing sound almost like air leaking out of a ball or a tire.

4) With emptied lungs, pause. Do not inhale. Count to 4 without taking a breath.

5) Inhale. Repeat the cycle for as long as you have time.

Benefits

I can tell you from experience that just a few minutes of box breathing can help to calm your mind and relax you.

For starters, by repeatedly counting from 1 to 4, it’s tough to continue thinking about whatever is dragging you down. Your brain can only focus on so many things at once – and in addition to focusing on counting, it’ll be maintaining your slow, consistent counting pace.

As lawyers, we tend to be overthinkers and we can catastrophize things. This can build up that extra lawyer stress and anxiety in our minds. By focusing on a slow, steady counting and breathing pace, we are pulling our minds completely away from all of the negativity. You can think of it like going into another room and closing the door.

There is medical science behind the benefits of box breathing. Just ask Dr. Esther Sternberg, a physician, author of several books on stress, and a former researcher at the National Institute of Health who is now the research director at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.

Dr. Sternberg explained to The Cut that deep breathing like this turns on your vagus nerve, which stimulates your body’s relaxation response, can slow down your heart and inhibit inflammation. She equates stress to putting your foot on the gas pedal, and says activating the vagus nerve is like engaging the brakes.

So yes, box breathing can scientifically reverse your stress response. It can even help you fall asleep when you’re lying in bed and can’t shut your mind off. Try it and let me know how it goes!

In case you’re thinking being stuck in the wrong career path is what’s creating your stress and anxiety, I’ve put together a presentation to help you move forward. Check it out.

The presentation provides you with guidance on how to transition from law practice to fulfilling alternative careers. You’ll get actionable tips you can start doing right away. You’ll also learn about my JD Refugee® class, which helps you take everything to the next level.

The presentation typically starts within 15 minutes of any time you land on the sign-up page. You can also select a specific start time from the dropdown menu on that page. Set aside around 45 minutes to watch.

Feel free to contact me any time you have questions.

Related Posts:

Ask These Questions Before Exiting Law
Feeling Like A Failure?
Popular Careers For Lawyers Beyond Law Practice

 

GET MY FREE SELF-ASSESSMENT!

Thinking of leaving the law? The best first step you can take is a good look in the mirror. START HERE:

it's free!
You’ll also get periodic updates, reminders & access to career guidance programs sent to your inbox. We respect your privacy. You can unsubscribe via a click at any time.