The Importance of Stress Management and Sleep for Lawyers The Importance of Stress Management and...

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  • The Importance of Stress

    Management and Sleep for


    January 30, 2018

    Roman Hruska Law Center, Lincoln, NE

  • This page intentionally left blank.

  • 1

    The Importance of Stress Management and Sleep for Lawyers

    By: Elise McHatton, MA, ACSM-HFS, NSCA-CSCS Director Of Account Management SimplyWell, LLC


    • Understand the affects of stress on the body and mind.

    • Understand the benefits of relaxation.

    • Understand how better management of stress will benefit your clients and help you fulfill your ethical duties to the judicial system, the public, clients, and other attorneys.

    • Understand what sleep is about.

    • Identify sleep disorders and understand the consequences of sleep deprivation.

    • Explore proper sleep hygiene.

    – Neb. Ct. R. of Prof. Cond. §§ 3-501.1, .3, .4

    True or False

    1: In an ideal world, there would be no stress.

    2: What is stressful to me is stressful to you.

    3: Only unpleasant situations are stressful.

    4: No symptoms, no stress.

    5: Stress in inevitable, so you can’t do anything about it.

  • 2


    • Bumper-to-bumper traffic

    • A deadline fast approaching

    • Illness, cancer, disease

    • Arguments with clients, coworkers, spouse or friends

    • Unpaid bills

    • Worrying

    • These scenarios are actually stressors – stressful events and circumstances.

    What does stress mean to you?

    What is Stress?

    • Stress is a demand made upon the adaptive capacities of the mind and body.

    • Each real or perceived threat to our body triggers a stress response that produce physiological changes to our bodies.

    Sources of Stress • Environmental

    • Social

    • Physiological

    • Thoughts

  • 3

    The Stress Response

    1. Hypothalamus sends chemical messenger to the pituitary gland.

    2. Pituitary glands send a signal to the adrenal glands (into the bloodstream).

    3. Surges of epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol are released.

    4. Stress hormones prepare your body for flight or fight.

    5. Breath quickens.

    6. Alertness increases.

    7. Heart beats faster.

    8. Blood cells become thicker to minimize bleeding from potential injuries.

    9. Body systems not needed are suppressed.

    Fight or Flight Response

    Cortisol- Over-Exposure Abdominal Fat Deposition – high levels of cortisol induce the body to deposit fat in the abdomen, upper back and neck. (High Blood Pressure, Type II Diabetes, and Heart Disease)

    Increased Blood Sugar Levels – gluconeogenesis – promotes the breakdown of bodily tissues in order to increase blood sugar.

    Muscle Breakdown – prolonged elevated levels can lead to muscle wasting.

    Decreased Immunity – inhibits the actions of white blood cells, leads to susceptibility to infections and other illnesses. Suppression of the immune system has implications for asthma, GI disorders, cancer, and ulcers.

    Speeds up aging process – 2004 study of mothers of chronically ill children – ‘shortened telomeres.’

    Increased appetite – studies show that people with higher levels of cortisol tend to eat more carbohydrates.

    Increased inflammation – chronic inflammation linked to chronic disease processes

  • 4


    Fact: Stress will always be a part of daily living and is necessary for providing challenge to physiological and psychological development.

    However, too much stress over a period of time combined with poor coping habits may cause physiological harm leading to illness and possibly death. Studies have shown a high correlation between prolonged stress and illness. • Especially among lawyers, too much stress can also cause job dissatisfaction, burnout, depression,

    and substance abuse which, in turn, cause ethical violations, malpractice and various types of unprofessional behaviors.

    • The core values contained in the Nebraska Rules of Professional Conduct, such as integrity and civility, require lawyers to manager their stress levels by reducing their dysfunctional negative thoughts and emotions (e.g., anger).

    Stress Break-Breathing

    Stress = Success

    Distress=Too little Distress=Too much Eustress =

    Right amount of stress

    Bored Tired Unhappy Restless Prone to illness

    Productive Energetic

    Happy Creative Healthy

    Client Focused

    Burned out Exhausted Overweight/Underweight Irritable Prone to illness

  • 5


    • Acute Stress -short-term stressor

    -quick appearing

    -very intense

    -vanishes quickly

    • Chronic Stress -long-term stressor

    -unrelenting demands

    -extended period of time

    -stress related disease

    Toll of Chronic Stress

    • Prolonged stress response can cause a poor distinction between life-threatening events and day-to-day stressors.

    • Stress response kicks in too soon or too often, burdening the body.

    • Stress’ Contribution to health problems: – Allergic skin reactions – Anxiety, Depression – Constipation/IBS – Dizziness, headaches – Heart problems, such as angina, heart attack, and cardiac arrhythmia – Hypertension – Insomnia – Pain – Ulcers

    Learning Stress Triggers

    Do you feel any of these? • Tight neck and shoulders

    • Tiredness and Fatigue

    • Dizziness or Fainting

    • Stomachache/Indigestion

    • Restlessness

    • Bossiness

    • Emotional eating

    • Anger/Anxiousness

    • Depression

    • Worry

    • Poor Concentration

    • Short term memory loss

    Being able to recognize when you feel stressed can help counteract the stress response.

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    Stress Management = Health

     Positive attitude  Letting go of resistance  Relaxation techniques  Proper nutrition  Movement  Sleep  Rational thinking  Change in perception

    Stress Management for Life

    1. Eliminate the stressor = Confront the problems which cause you stress and change or eliminate their source.

    2. Change your thinking = You have the power to change your interpretation of the situation and the way you think about it.

    3. Manage the stress = Manage the stressors through coping skills.

    Stress Break- Guided Imagery

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    Relaxation Defined

    • The process of effectively moving the mind/body from the stress response to the relaxation response.

    • A state of decreased psycho-physiological arousal: a calming state.

    Benefits of Relaxation • Slows heart rate

    • Reduces blood pressure

    • Slows breathing

    • Reduces oxygen demand

    • Increases blood flow to major muscles

    • Lessens muscle tension

    • Fewer symptoms of illness

    • Fewer pains such as headaches and muscle pains

    • Less nausea/GI upset

    • Fewer emotional responses (anger, crying, anxiety, frustration)

    • More energy

    • Improved concentration

    • Better ability to handle problems

    • Efficiency in daily activities

    Stress Management/Relaxation Techniques

    • Power Nap

    • Breathing

    • Autogenics – self-directed relaxation using suggestions to create feelings of warmth and heaviness in the body

    • Progressive Relaxation – designed to specifically reduce muscle tension through focused attention

    • Guided Imagery – used to connect the subconscious mind to activate the relaxation response

    • Meditation – letting your mind focus on a single item

    • Yoga

    • Healing Touch Therapy

    • Music

    • Laughter

    • Exercise/movement

  • 8

    4 Steps to Stopping Stress

    1. Consciously call a mental time-out. The next time you feel stressed, simply say


    2. Breathe. Take a few deep breaths to reduce physical tension and help you relax.

    3. Reflect. Ask yourself the following questions: Is this thought or belief true? Did I jump to a conclusion? Is there another way to view the situation? Does it help me to think this way?

    4. Choose. Decide how to deal with the source of your stress. Challenge your thinking and adjust your view of reality.

    Substance Abuse

    • Chronic stress is a well-known substance abuse risk factor

    • Avoidance of alcohol and drugs for ‘stress management’

    Stress Break- Progressive Relaxation

  • 9

    Homework-Daily Stress Diary

    During the day, list situations or events which initiate the stress response and include for each: – Source – Time and Place – Level of Perceived Stress (1-slight, 2-moderate, 3-strong, 4-intense) – Thoughts and Feelings about the Stressor – Coping Strategies

    Assess and look for common themes. Reflect on coping strategies which worked for you.

    Sleep 101

    About Sleep

    • Active process

    • Some brain activity increases during sleep/recharges

    • Release important hormones

    • Cells repair themselves

  • 10

    How much is enough?

    • Adults – most need 7 ½ - 8 hours