The Resilient Lawyer – The Power of Checking In

Have you ever thought, “Holy crap!  How am I going to get all the work I have to do done?”  Or, “Holy crap!  What I have to do is so hard – how am I ever going to do it?”  I’m guessing that at one point or another in your career, those thoughts have crossed your mind.  In the past, when I have had those moments, I generally just ploughed through those feelings without any thought as to how best to manage my stress.  In the end, the stress would just sit there, unabated, until I finally got all the work done, which resulted in me feeling mentally drained and not in control. 

The past month was definitely a “holy crap” kind of month for me.  However, because I’m more aware now of the importance of developing my resilience, this time, I decided to come up with a deliberate strategy to get through the month with strength and power, rather than by just holding on as I’ve done in the past.  That strategy was to “check-in.”

My “check-in” strategy consisted of two parts.  The first part was to take a moment to “pause” before I started my workday and then again at regular intervals throughout the day by setting alarms on my phone. So all day long, whenever I heard the chime, I would stop whatever I was doing for a few seconds to check in on my stress levels.   

If I was feeling good or in the groove, then I would just carry on.  But, if I was feeling overly stressed at any of those pauses, the second part of my strategy was to identify the root cause of the stress.  After determining the cause, I would then focus specifically on moving passed that particular obstacle.  

For example, if I was stressed because I felt that I did not have enough time to do all that I had to do, I would take a minute or two to review my schedule for the day, reprioritize my tasks and then readjust to make more room for what needed to get done.  On the other hand, if I was stressed because I felt like an imposter, I would take a few moments to meditate or listen to positive affirmations or inspirational music, and then remind myself of the many times that I had been able to successfully do what I was about to do.

As I look back at the past month to see how my “check-in” strategy worked, I can confidently tell you that, while it may not have been entirely pretty, I didn’t really have to struggle this time just to get through to the other side unscathed.  After all was all said and done, I felt a little less mentally drained and a lot more in control than I ever have in the past.  I didn’t just “survive” the feelings of being overwhelmed – I managed them by setting myself up with some tools to do it on my terms.  And I must say, it feels pretty good.

This strategy may not work for you but the ultimate point is that the more we customize mental health tools and strategies to make use of our own unique strengths in addressing our own unique challenges, the more power they will give us in succeeding.