Danger: Stressed Out Lawyers Ahead (Tips & Tricks Also Provided)

As a form of self-help therapy for dealing with a global pandemic, I reached out to numerous legal friends and colleagues to learn how they are coping with COVID-19 and this lack of control that we are all struggling with. My article, COVID-19 Lawyer Stress: SOS, was published last month in the Multnomah Bar Association’s newsletter. Some of the takeaways include:

  • Zoom meetings, both for work and for fun, are covered.
  • Hobbies like cooking, music, reading, cutting your own hair or even passing the time by watching crazy squirrel feeders are addressed.
  • The benefits of fitness, yoga, meditation and mindfulness strikes a chord for many.
  • While some people find stress relief with structure, yet others need sustained breaks for stress relief.

We are all in the same ocean paddling as fast as we can, but we are just in different boats right now. When I asked one friend how she was doing, she responded, “I vacillate between coping remarkably and failing miserably.” Another responded, “I have been on a roller coaster…some good days; some bad days.” And yet another said, “But in an honest moment I would say that like other tragedy-like periods in my life, my personal go-to mode is to lean in and plow through it with action (being called to the moment), and in the process I don’t really take good care of myself. The signs are all over the place, but my brain instinctively works that way. The intentional piece is real – the will is what I am fighting now.” And it’s not just our stress, but stress for our families: “It’s been a process to digest, this entire process so far, and I cried when they announced school was closed for the year.”

Yet another attorney reported there can be moments of peace, “but then my little energy of flame goes out and I am back to barely keeping my head above water.” Another attorney said, “It has been like watching a tidal wave come in to shore and now being tossed about as the wave hit the shore, waiting to resurface to catch my breath.” And the stress is not just for what we are enduring now, but what is to come. Another friend shared, “Right now, I am stressed about going back to the office before there are effective treatments or a vaccine.”

Can’t we all identify with these statements – some days, or some moments, seem fine, or even if they are not, we take action and plow through? That’s what problem-solving lawyers do, right? But we don’t have control right now and the truth is, we never did. Keep talking to others. Keep connecting in your own way. Keep trying. It’s okay to ask for help, particularly when we are all missing or grieving something. Strive for progress, not perfection – and we will be together soon.

Victoria Blachly: SYK AttorneyVictoria Blachly is a partner at SYK, and an experienced fiduciary litigator that works with many elderly clients, cases and causes. She is also a proud Board Member for the Oregon Alzheimer’s Association Chapter.