I’ve never been one to journal, probably because I associate it with making a daily log of activities (any lawyer who has ever billed time can understand the struggle). But I had an experience recently where it helped alleviate anxiety I was feeling about a work opportunity (or what I thought was anxiety…).
On a day where I’d already meditated, worked out, and eaten plenty of veggies from my garden, I was still struggling that evening with a knot in the pit of my stomach about this opportunity (I have to remind myself that healthy habits don’t magically make me immune to stress or anxiety, but they do help manage it). Unable to shake this feeling, I decided to try and figure out what exactly was bothering me so much.
I did a three-step process, which started with writing what I was physically feeling in my body – tightness in my stomach, heaviness in my breath, fatigue all over, etc. Then I wrote about what I honestly believed was causing me to feel this way. Finally, I wrote about where I believed I could go from there.
As I wrote down several theories under step two, I realized in that moment that this exercise was allowing me to feel like a casual observer to my experience rather than a participant – almost like I was analyzing a situation being told to me by a friend rather than myself, which I believe is what helped me get clarity on what was actually behind my symptoms and what I could do about the situation.
Sure, some usual culprits were present (fear of failure is never far from my mind), but I discovered I was also feeling “off” about many things that weren’t anxiety-related at all. It’s hard sometimes feeling like certain aspects of lawyer well-being are akin to trying to move a mountain. It can be exhausting feeling responsibility for something over which you have little or no control (something that plagued me as a practicing attorney). It’s also tough feeling like you should always be doing more.
After getting to the bottom of things, I thought about next steps and was pleasantly surprised at how encouraged and optimistic I suddenly felt. I came up with a few new approaches I can take for this specific work opportunity that I’m excited about. I started getting inspired by new ideas for presentations, articles, and blog posts (including this one!). I also reminded myself that while I may not be able to control any outcomes, I can control my passion and effort behind my work, which is a genuine comfort.
So, if you have an experience at work where you’re unsure how to handle a project or perhaps struggling with a relationship or situation in your personal life, consider taking a few minutes to write down what you’re experiencing, why it’s happening, and constructive steps you can take afterwards. I have found that what I often assume is causing my anxiety is rarely the actual culprit, and sometimes a few minutes of quiet reflection are all that’s needed to help alleviate stress in the moment and get a healthy perspective on things.
Inhale through your nose for four counts and exhale out your mouth for eight counts. When you feel stressed, come back to your breath.
I wear fun socks each day, and now I'm known as the "fun sock lady" at my gym!
- Anne H. (Virginia)
I go to the gym before the sun is up and lately I have been walking there without my headphones in to enjoy the quiet peacefulness of the city before everyone wakes up. It’s sort of a meditative way to begin the day instead of constantly having pods/music/radio in my ear.
- Andrew C. (Pennsylvania)
Our firm has appointed me as “minister of culture” and my job is to always look to boost morale with work events, happy hours, fun sports pools and contests, and ensure we all take moments out of our days/weeks/months to enjoy our time together as co-workers and friends. - Tony C. (Virginia)
Be grateful for all you have to be grateful! - Kevin D. (Iowa)
I try to get outside for a walk every day, either with my dog or by myself! - Lori B. (Ohio)
I take mini-breaks throughout the day to play pieces I enjoy on my piano!
– Alice S. (Minnesota)
I always try to project positive energy to those around me regardless of the day I’m having. I’d rather project positivity than bring others down with negativity.
- Bill O. (Illinois)
Thank you for joining my email list.