Stressed Out and Going Nowhere

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01Aug2011

Stressed Out and Going Nowhere

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By Chere Estrin, The Estrin Report

Being a tad stressed out lately, I decided to research the topic and, unfortunately, came up with the same old boring routine run-of-the-mill suggestions. There’s nothing worse than for stressed out paralegals and legal professionals to read another article on stress that tells you to:

  1. Take a break. (Right.  With that pile of work on my desk, my boss breathing down my neck, I’m gonna take a break.)
  2. Take a walk outside.  (It’s 115 degrees here.  You take the walk.)
  3. Meditate. (That brings me right back to obsessing on what’s stressing me.)
  4. Take a bubble bath. (I have arthritis in my knees. You get in and out of that tub. Me?  I’m not getting in there and then have to have the fire department come and get me out. No, sir.)
  5. Eat chocolate.  (Sure.  What’s another 50 pounds?)

I thought I’d stumbled upon something new when I read one article that said to keep a log.  The log should have three columns:   Time, My Plan,What Actually Happened.

So I started the log:
9:00  My Plan:   Write a Press Release.
What Actually Happened:  Client calls.  Yaks for an hour.  What could I say?  It’s a paying client.

10:00  My Plan:  Write syllabus for OLP eDiscovery Training Course
What  Actually Happened:  Husband pulls back out of whack while trying to demonstrate how he used to do the limbo when he was five .  Try getting a 6 foot, 249 lb., 58 year-old man up off the floor.  Took an hour.

You get the picture.  It was only making me more stressed.  So I came up with my own ways to just eliminate stress altogether.

  1. Figure out what stresses you.  That’s right.  Half the time we don’t even recognize it.  For example, it took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t going swimming every day that stressed me out.  It was the idea that I had to get in the car, drive 20 minutes to the Y, get changed in the locker room in front of 47 very elderly women, all with bluish-gray hair, Cobby Cuddler shoes, and bodies a 20-year old would die for.
  2. Eliminate unnecessary commitments.  Why, oh why, do we say yes to things when we mean no?  I don’t like having lunch with (Jane).  She bores me to tears.  Yet, I can’t say no.  So once a month I’m off to have lunch with her at a restaurant I don’t like, can’t afford, and swear I won’t go to again.  It’s unnecessary.  I’ll go every six months instead.
  3. Stop multi-tasking:  The buzz word of the ’90s and naughts.  Who came up with that word, anyway? Everyone multi-tasks.  It seems to me that if we didn’t multi-task, rather did one thing at a time until we’ve finished it, we might get more done.  I’m getting a little bit tired of talking on the phone, drafting an email, eating my lunch and listening to an eDiscovery webinar all at the same time.  My conversations don’t make sense, I make too many typos in my emails, I don’t know what I just ate, and, furthermore, I haven’t a clue what the webinar was about.
  4. Unschedule.  That’s right.  Stop scheduling so much.  Before Outlook days, we used to make a phone call to someone when the urge or need struck us.  Now we have to compose an email to ask for an appropriate time, send the email, wait for the return reply, go back and forth a bit, book the teleconference and then confirm – spending half an hour just to get 7 minutes with someone on some unimportant confab we didn’t need to begin with.  Make an appointment to make the telephone call?  Puleeze.
  5. Avoid difficult people.  Just avoid them.  Who needs that anyway?  Some ranting, raving power hungry person who is passive-aggressive in their emails to you — someone who gives you heartburn just because they can?  No to that.  Avoid ’em.    Being nice isn’t working anyway, and you wouldn’t want what you really feel to be in print.  Nope.  No answering here.
  6. Eliminate energy drains.  What is draining your energy?  Eliminate it, or them, in your life. People who insist on drama, situations that call for much more input than you want to give.  Yep.  Eliminate all of it.  Of course, I consider going to the dentist an energy drain.  I might want to reconsider that.
  7. Help others.  It just gives you a great lift.  I found that by helping others I felt great.  Even if it was a temporary lift: giving out a scholarship to a course, helping someone with a resume, sending a note with a few names that could help someone who is having a rough time.   All of that.  Takes your focus off of you, even for just a little while.
  8. Slow down. Instead of rushing through life, learn to take things just a little bit slower.  Enjoy your food, enjoy the people around you, enjoy nature.  This step alone can save tons of stress.  Where I live, I see road runners, bunny rabbits, crows,  owls, and coyotes.  Never, ever saw that in the big city when I lived there.  Well, okay, so I have to carry pepper spray when I walk the dog in case the coyotes want to come after him.  But the intent is there.
  9. Be grateful.  Developing an attitude of gratitude (I sound like a rapper) is a way of thinking positive, eliminating negative thinking, and reduces stress. Learn to be grateful for what you have, for the people in your life, and see it as a gift. With this sort of outlook on life, stress will go down and happiness will go up. What could I possibly be grateful for?  Hmmmm……for one, you took just a few minutes out of your busy day, just to read this post.  For that I am grateful, and my life is just a little bit less stressful.

Originally appeared on The Estrin Report blog.

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