Paralegal work can be extremely stressful. Beyond your regular assignments, you frequently deal with impossible deadlines and angry clients, all while performing secretarial, administrative and/or clerical work. Your mind is constantly pulled from one project to another, between work and home, scattering your thoughts and emotions and leaving you feeling stressed and anxious. Your mind wanders, your productivity slips, and creative projects go out the window. Stress builds and starts to have an impact on your health and well-being.
Similarly, court reporting is an inherently stressful job: capturing every word. Beyond that, you may drive two hours to a deposition, find parking, lug your equipment up two flights of stairs, and be informed upon arriving that it had been cancelled. Or at a contentious deposition, multiple attorneys talk at once, ignore your requests to slow down, agree to work through lunch (and provide food for everyone except you), then decide to work late and order an expedited transcript for tomorrow – completely oblivious to your personal and professional needs.
Merriam Webster defines mindfulness as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”
Mindfulness helps us tune in to what is happening within and around us, to stop reacting to things we don’t like by “paying attention on purpose,” and to be fully present in the moment. Most of us do not have the luxury of sitting 30 minutes or more for a daily meditation session. It is, however, essential for our wellbeing to practice awareness throughout the day at work (and home):
Feeling stiff? Move.
After sitting for hours, simply standing up and stretching allows oxygen to flow through your body, clear your mind, and re-energize you. If you can, go for a walk.
Skipping meals creates stress in the body and will hinder your performance. You tend to gobble what’s within your reach, such as a sugar-laden “protein” bar. Practice sitting with your meal away from your desk, preferably outside, tasting and appreciating your food.
Having trouble focusing? Breathe.
There is no more powerful way to manage stress – and respond to everything in your daily life – than to consciously focus on your breath as often as possible. Mindful breathing instantly connects your wandering mind to your body and you feel more “solid.” As you go about your day, focus on the breath going in and out of your belly. If thoughts or feelings come up, notice them and gently return your focus to the breath.
Using these simple mindfulness exercises will help you find some much-needed calm and peace amidst the seemingly unceasing demands and craziness of a typical day.
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