Author of A Layman's Guide to Managing Fear: Using Psychology, Christianity, and Non-Resistant Methods
Originally published in the November 2019 issue of the St. Louis Lawyer magazine. View in the archives.
Are you a lawyer who privately struggles with stress, anxiety, depression, addiction and do not know where to turn? Do you know a fellow lawyer or anyone else who struggles with fear and various mental health issues and do not know how to help relieve their suffering?
Many lawyers are unaware of how to overcome their mental health issues. However, help is available if you take the time to address these issues in your life. Here is a short list of techniques that lawyers can use to help manage their depression and fears and get their life back on track.
1. Make the choice to get better: The first step on your recovery from your mental health situation is admitting you have a problem. The second step is to set some time out of your busy schedule to get assistance on how to overcome fear, anxiety and depression. Many lawyers work long hours and sacrifice their mental health over their careers. This can be a fatal mistake. Ignoring your depression and anxieties can ruin your career and your personal life. Learn the mistakes from other lawyers who neglected their mental health and ended up ruining their lives. You cannot have a successful law career or family life if your mental health issues overwhelm you on a daily basis.
2. Drugs and alcohol will only make things worse: Avoiding your mental health problems through the use of drugs and alcohol is not the answer. Eventually, you will have to confront your fears and depression. Save yourself the time and heartache and confront your problems now. Many professionals and former addicts have said that drugs and alcohol will only add more misery to your situation. Be smart and learn how to cope with your mental health issues the right way.
3. Learn to take it one day at a time: Instead of worrying about how you will get through the rest of the week, try to focus on today. Each day can provide us with different opportunities to learn new things and that includes learning how to deal with your problems. You never know when the answers you are looking for will come to your doorstep. We may be 99 percent correct in predicting the future, but all it takes is for that 1 percent to make a world of difference.
4. Learn how to manage your fearful thoughts: When encountering thoughts that make you fearful or depressed, challenge those thoughts by asking yourself questions that will maintain objectivity and common sense. Always focus on the facts of your current situation rather than on what your fearful thoughts are telling you. In addition, a person should think of a red stop sign that serves as a reminder to stop focusing on that thought and to think of something else. A person can then try to think of something positive to replace the negative thought.
5. There are other options rather than suicide: Regardless of your situation, things do not stay the same. You may feel lousy today, but it will not last forever. This includes your current situation. Nothing remains the same over time. There are many people and organizations that are willing to help you, but you must be willing to take advantage of this help. Every problem has a solution. You just have to find it. If things are so bad that you are unable to function, drop everything and go to your local hospital or crisis center immediately. The people there will take care of your situation right away.
6. Read something that will uplift your spirits: A technique that is very helpful is to have a small notebook of positive statements that makes you feel good. Whenever you come across an affirmation that makes you feel good, write it down in a small notebook that you can carry around with you in your pocket. Whenever you feel depressed, open up your small notebook and read those statements.
7. Take a small break to unwind: Sometimes we get stressed out when everything happens all at once. When this happens, a person should take a deep breath and try to find something to do for a few minutes to get his or her mind off of the problem. A person could get some fresh air, listen to some music, or do an activity that will give a fresh perspective on things. Taking a small break can help prevent from getting anxious and overwhelmed throughout the day.
8. Learn from your past experiences: In every anxiety-related situation you experience, begin to learn what works, what does not work, and what you need to improve on in managing your fears and anxieties. For instance, you have a lot of anxiety and you decide to take a walk to help you feel better. The next time you feel anxious, you can remind yourself that you got through it the last time by taking a walk. This will give you the confidence to manage your anxiety the next time around.
9. Take advantage of the help that is available: If possible, talk to a mental health professional who can help you manage your fears, anxieties, and depression. Many law associations offer support groups and lawyer mental health assistant programs that can offer immediate assistance. By talking to a professional, a person will be helping themselves in the long run because they will become better able to deal with their problems in the future. A counselor can also provide additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current issues.