|Stress and Anxiety Breakthrough Coaching
by Psychologist and Coach Avril Allen
There is a common perception of lawyers as cool and collected by nature, and while the profession does indeed take intellectual rigour, lawyers are human and maybe affected by difficult emotions despite their efforts to disguise them. Within the profession stress and anxiety have become taboo. Lawyers believe “If I’m seen to be struggling it will be perceived as weakness by colleagues and I will be passed over for promotion” and “To maintain the confidence of clients I must come across as confident and in control at all times.” It seems that lawyers rarely consult me until they can no longer hide the struggle with insomnia, irritability, racing heart or unremitting tortuous thoughts. One, stressed for months, only sought help when his father committed suicide. Several have walked away from the profession rather than seek help earlier, which seems a terrible waste of skills when changing mindset and mastering emotions can transform your life. Prolonged stress, legal role conflicts and lack of support in an adversarial environment can lead to a sapping of confidence.
Prolonged stress wears you down; the “fight or flight” response is only designed for a crisis and our nervous system has no time to repair. We need to master the art of overriding stress reactions to restore control, equanimity, good sleep and to ride the storm even in difficult times. There are occupational hazards in the legal profession, but no-one should struggle needlessly when the answers to mastering stress and anxiety can be simple and easy.
When coaching clients I explain how the mind is responsible for the stress response and the best way to turn it off. The mind is wonderfully creative and flexible. Change your negative habitual thinking patterns and the lens through which you view the world and you actually change your neurology and your experience of life.
Before Coaching: My client was run-down, on a short fuse, tearful, and losing confidence. She felt bruised by what she saw as inhumane snap decisions made in a firm overreacting and following procedure regardless of context or individual considerations. It sounded to me like an organisation in panic mode seizing on bureaucracy as a lifeline in a tough environment. She felt undervalued, mentally de-stabilised and lacking the confidence to act assertively, the impact of which was indecisiveness and delaying difficult confrontations. Every day was a battle she wasn’t enjoying and she had lost her previous good sense of humour. Loss of self-esteem means poor self-care. If you add to the mix an assault on your deeply held values of upholding justice and solving others’ problems it is very disheartening. She needed a plan for good self-care, mindset change and a way to build the emotional resilience needed to initiate conversations and a realistic plan of action at work.
After Coaching: Understanding brings courage to tackle problems in a constructive manner. Together we developed the “internal tools” to stop over-thinking, maintain emotional equilibrium, and restore personal integrity in the way she treated people at all levels of the firm. Becoming her own best advocate resulted in inner strength, healthy boundaries and a clearer sense of her options and direction.
Avril Allen specialises in coaching professionals and entrepreneurs to master stress and anxiety. www.avrilallen.com
|The London Legal Walk
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Lawcare News Issue 2 2016: Stress & Anxiety Breakthroughs
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