Hearings, law school classes, and other types of meetings in group settings can be stressful. When our instincts may be to remove ourselves from the stressful situation, here are 5 tips to discreetly manage the anxiety when leaving is not an option.
- Straighten Your Posture. When we are anxious, we inadvertently protect our upper body (where our heart and lungs are) by stooping over. Pull your shoulders back, stand or sit with your feet apart, and open your chest. This helps your body regain control. Whether in a meeting, on a Zoom call, or arguing in court, you want great posture anyway. No one will think anything other than that you are looking presentable.
- Drink Water Not Coffee. Caffeine causes a spike in adrenaline levels, which can make you feel anxious. Not drinking enough water may exacerbate symptoms and can cause heart palpitations. In extreme situations, this may lead to feelings of panic, or can trigger an anxiety attack. Most offices and courtrooms have easy access to bottled water, a water fountain, etc. Reach for a glass of water, and no one will notice anything is out of the ordinary.
- Breathe In & Out. eep breathing helps you calm down. Focus on evenly inhaling and exhaling. This will help slow down and re-center your mind. Again, hardly anyone would think oddly of an attorney taking a deep breath before a hearing or before speaking at a presentation. Thus, this is a great exercise to square yourself up without anyone noticing.
- Follow The 3-3-3 Rule. Look around you and name 3 things you see (silently to yourself if necessary) - e.g. laptop, trial binder, Judge’s gavel. Then, name 3 sounds you hear e.g. - someone talking, the A/C blowing on high, footsteps, or someone swinging in their chair. Finally, move 3 parts of your body - e.g. your foot, toes, or fingers. This mental trick can be done in silence without anyone knowing, can center your mind, and bring you back to the present moment.
- Take Notes. Grab a legal pad and write out your thoughts. Writing helps get negative thoughts out of your head. This should not raise any eyebrows, whether you are waiting for a hearing to start or in the midst of a meeting, seeing an attorney scribbling on a notepad is commonplace.