Although it is an alarming statistic it's perhaps not surprising to read that according to recent LexisNexis research "66% of solicitors were suffering ‘high levels’ of stress..." A career in the legal profession is particularly stressful, and the truth is most people will experience stress in their respective industries.
From dealing with high-stress situations in my sporting career I learnt a few techniques for keeping a cool head. I've spent the last few years working out how to adapt and apply these to the workplace.
Firstly, Stress isn't necessarily bad. Everyone needs a little stress to achieve optimum performance. It helps to get the body and brain firing on all cylinders. Too little stress will leave you unstimulated and will lead to boredom. Everyone's optimum level will vary, and its good to understand where yours is.
Organise your day and work out the times you need be fully switched on, and also the times when you will unwind, and try and stick to these. If you are a commuter this is a good time to be productive (the average London commute is around 80mins - 40mins each way). On the morning commute, I set myself up to win the day, I don't do work but I do make a plan for the day. On the way home, I use it to unwind, I read my book and listen to music and avoid computer and phone screens.
Utilise your team. This is something that perhaps comes more naturally in a sporting environment but has definitely taken me a bit longer to figure out in my post-sport career. In the GB team, you are surrounded by expert coaches, physios, physiologist and other athletes who you can lean on when you are under pressure. Everyone has their own strengths and something that is causing you a lot of stress might be resolved by a fresh set of eyes from a team member.
Train yourself to chill out. It's not always easy, but it is important to be able to switch off. Unwinding doesn't have to be sedentary and in fact, I have found the best way to refresh the head is with a daily dose of exercise. There were also times when I wouldn't be able to sleep at night because I would be stressing about a race the next day. I dealt with this by doing a mind dump - writing all my thoughts on a piece of paper and giving myself a timeslot in the morning to address these concerns.
The final point on chilling out - establish your happy song - a go-to song that you can put on and zone out if things get too hectic. My go-to before a big race was David Bowie - Moonage Daydream. It always seemed to do the trick.
All the evidence indicates that stress is endemic throughout the profession. A 2019 LexisNexis report found that 66% of solicitors were suffering ‘high levels’ of stress, while around one in four described their stress as ‘extreme’ or ‘very high’.