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Has Stress Become Your New Normal?

How are you spending your Spring Break? For many, this is the time of year to take a well-deserved deep breath, put away the winter coat, maybe dust off the clubs and enjoy some vacation time and reconnect with the family. Whether your idea of a spring break vacation is skiing in the Rockies, golfing in Arizona or something more exotic, the top psychologists and health experts agree that it’s important for our mental health to enjoy some down time by hitting the pause button and recharging our batteries. I even recall some spring break vacations when I needed a vacation to rest up from my vacation! In my job, I have the amazing opportunity to meet many successful and intelligent people. Collectively, they are well educated, resourceful and super hard working. They also share one other thing in common -- many are so accustomed to living a stress-filled life that some have actually become numb to the significant amount of stress they’re under. We can probably agree that there are many contributing factors, but is it possible that some are self-inflicted? Ask yourself this question: “How am I doing with the different stress points in my life?” Do you wake up at night or have trouble sleeping? No one needs to suggest possible stress agents in our life, we know them all too well. Would it surprise you to know that many of the attorneys I meet are carrying around such high levels of stress that they’ve unknowingly adopted the practice of actually becoming indifferent or numb to it? Over the years, different indicators have been used to help people measure the stress loads in their life. A psychologist by the name of Dr. Thomas Holmes is credited for creating the most famous measurement of stress, the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS). By assigning points to various life events, then adding up the points, you get an idea of the amount of stress you’re under. For instance, death of a spouse (100 points), followed by such things as divorce (73 points), even marriage (50 points). Some are minor, such as a traffic violation (11 points) even a vacation and holidays make the list (12 points for vacation and 13 points for holiday). According to Dr. Holmes, if a person hits 200 points in a relatively short period of time, such as six months, they are likely on their way to a heart attack or some sort of breakdown. You can take the stress test by clicking here. It would be futile to attempt to reduce stress by eliminating those events on the list since you can’t usually control if/when things will happen. It would be wrong to develop a fatalistic attitude that says life is going to ultimately get us anyway so we may as well “go for the gusto.” But there is no way around it, working in the legal profession is stressful. According to Dr. Holmes’s stress test, many of the highest levels of stress points are associated with job and career. Even job dissatisfaction can become a stress factor for experienced lawyers, who have become bored or feel under stimulated in their current roles within their firms. How can JAG help?

At JAG, we are specialists in working with attorneys to help navigate through the difficulties of finding the calm in the midst of the storm that we call the legal profession. It’s no surprise that a law firm’s culture can be a large contributor to stress. Daily, we see the difference between those who feel supported and appreciated by their firm and peers, versus those who do not. But even then, stress affects people differently. If you feel stress may be an issue in your career, or if you feel like it’s time to take a closer look at your career path or the firm you’re with, we are experienced and knowledgeable in this area and may be in a position to offer you some alternatives to consider. Contact us at for a confidential meeting. You don’t have to walk this part of your journey alone, we are available if you are interested in evaluating or perhaps offering solutions to help breathe new life into your career. “The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” --Steven Covey, New York Times best-selling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, First Things First and The Leader in Me.

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