LawCare offers useful advice for recognising and managing stress.
Sources of stress
Stress is by far the most common reason for calls to the LawCare helpline. In this article, LawCare highlights some warning signs.
We can all get stressed at times but it is important to note that not all stress is bad - it can be motivating. However, serious and prolonged stress can be upsetting and lead to physical and mental health concerns.
Many solicitors and staff working in the legal sector have a driven, perfectionist personality that makes them more prone to stress. They often work long hours in pressured situations, and believe they should always be in control. Feeling unable to cope with work can be particularly difficult.
There may be low awareness of the support services available to those in the legal community and a stigma attached to talking about mental health issues.
Signs of stress
In LawCare's experience, lawyers often don’t notice the signs of stress, some of which are:
- Sleep deprivation: This is a vicious circle - worries about work lead to lack of sleep, which makes it difficult to perform well at work.
- Physical changes: Headaches, skin complaints, frequent colds, aching muscles and digestive problems.
- Drinking and smoking: Many turn to drinking and smoking to cope with the demands of work.
- Eating: Comfort eating or skipping meals.
- Mood swings: People can become irritated and frustrated, get very angry one minute and feel fine the next. They can be short-tempered or difficult.
- Panic attacks: These can happen suddenly, for no clear reason. It can mean feeling sick, short of breath, shaking, sweating and experiencing a sense of unreality.
A good tip is to talk - don’t stay silent. Legal professionals in particular may feel it’s a sign of weakness to admit they aren’t coping, but it’s better to address problems early, before they get out of control.
LawCare News Ireland
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LawCare supports and promotes good mental health and wellbeing across the legal community.
For confidential support, call 1800 991 801 or visit www.lawcare.ie.
Law Society eZine
This article originally appeared in the February 2018 Law Society eZine. For more information, and to subscribe, see eNewsletters.