How Women in the Legal Field Can Overcome Stress and Anxiety

Everyone in the legal field faces a certain amount of pressure, regardless of the nature of the practice. Those who work as public defenders or paralegals in a criminal law firm may find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer number of cases and clientelle.

Those who work the same positions in the field of immigration will experience various pressures, from monitoring multi-year cases to differentiating the dozens of forms that accompany each case. In addition to the pressures that affect every legal employee, women face their own unique challenges in the workplace.

Women often feel they must prove themselves above and beyond their existing education and experiences. They may also believe they must hide their emotions in order to be taken seriously.

However, there are a couple unique methods of natural stress and anxiety relief that will help women manage their mindsets in the legal field: maintaining a list of strengths and accomplishments, keeping an active social life outside of work, and taking productive lunch breaks.

Maintain List of Strengths and Accomplishments

Maintaining a list of strengths and accomplishments is useful in many ways. For one, it can help an uncertain woman remind herself of her capabilities, especially when faced with criticism from supervisors.

In addition, it can be useful during a routine performance evaluation. Often times, women are afraid to discuss their accomplishments. They may feel a sense of impostor syndrome, or that they are not truly qualified for the positions they are assuming. Thus, the list of strengths and accomplishments will speak for itself when a woman cannot find her own voice.

Keeping an Active Social Life Outside of Work

Keeping an active social life outside of work is critical to stress maintenance. When one’s life revolves around work, he or she begins to believe that failure in work equates to failure in life. Pairing each work day with its own extracurricular experiences rids women of the mindset that their work performance reflects how valuable they are as members of society.

It should be noted that an active social life is not the only solution to this dilemma. Simply having hobbies such as exercise, shopping, or outdoor activities will enrich an individual’s life beyond the workforce.

Taking Productive Lunch Breaks

As women are often convinced that they have to prove their capabilities in the workforce, they may spend their lunch breaks getting ahead on their work assignments. However, this behavior may actually prove detrimental to their overall performance, as they will have had less time away from their screens to recharge.

Taking productive lunch breaks is just as important as taking them in the first place. In a productive lunch break, a woman takes advantage of the full break instead of halving it for the sake of appearances, gets to step away from her desk, and may even go outside to escape the confines of the office for a moment.


Overall, though women do face unique stressors in the workforce, they are fully capable of managing these stressors. Maintaining a list of strengths and accomplishments will help a woman overcome self-criticism and impostor syndrome. It will also prove useful in firms with periodic evaluations.

Keeping an active social life outside of work, or at least maintaining healthy hobbies, will ensure that work is not the sole and central focus of a woman’s life. Finally, taking productive lunch breaks will keep women motivated and well-rested.

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Understanding Panic Attacks and Extreme Anxiety

Anxiety disorder is a condition that puts a person in a constant state of alertness and fear. Anxiety is otherwise a normal reaction to stress that people commonly experience at various points in their lives. Generally speaking, anxiety helps people to cope with difficult situations until they are resolved (tense situations at work, harder studying for an exam, focusing on an important speech…).

However, for about one in every twelve people anxiety is so persistent and severe that it creates serious problems. Anxious feelings may be so uncomfortable that result in avoiding everyday activities and can escalate into anxiety and panic disorders such as panic attacks.

Panic attacks are episodes of intense fear or anxiety that comes without warning and without any obvious reason. They are far more intense than just having a feeling of being stressed out which most people experience. Panic attack happens suddenly and can be particularly debilitating because they can occur at any time, even during sleep. Many people (about one-third) who suffer from panic disorder often become agoraphobic.

Agoraphobia is the abnormal fear of being in a situation where one might experience anxiety or panic attack. People suffering from agoraphobia may experience severe panic attacks in situations where they feel trapped, out of control, or too far from their personal comfort zone or an area where they have control of their environment. Agoraphobia is a debilitating condition that can bring fear, shame and isolation to those who suffer from it.

Symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks?

Anxiety panic attacks are characterized by development of several symptoms which may include:

  • pounding heart, increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • chest pain (you feel like having a heart attack)
  • sweating, chills, or hot flushes
  • shaking and trembling
  • nausea
  • stomach cramps
  • muscle aches and pains
  • dizziness (feel lightheaded and unstable)
  • fear of losing control, paranoia
  • fear of dying
  • hyperventilation
  • a sense of suffocation
  • derealisation (distorted sense of reality)
  • depersonalisation (feeling disconnected from your body, like you are in a dream)

Beyond these symptoms, a key symptom is also the persistent fear of having future panic attacks.

Panic attacks are usually brief, lasting less than ten minutes. Although the exact causes of these disorders are not fully known, studies have shown that a combination of biological and environmental factors may be involved. In many people, the symptoms develop in association with major life changes (like getting married, having a child, starting a new job, etc.) and major lifestyle stressors.

Why so many people today suffer from anxiety and panic attacks is also partially due to our high-stress modern society.

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