Society and Culture

Managing Stress in a Stressful Legal Career

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In life there comes a time to hold ’em and a time to fold ’em. This summer, I folded.

A couple of months ago, I was so overwhelmed with projects at work and life that it kept me up at night. I was so consumed with all the thoughts constantly rushing through my head that it affected how I interacted with people and the amount of quality sleep I got each night, and I was having a difficult time managing stress. In addition, I found it extremely difficult to focus at work.

After two months of long hours and groggy days, I learned two very important lessons:

  1. It’s okay to ask for help.
  2. A good psychiatrist with a liberal view on doling out prescriptions makes everything better.

Keep numbers one and two in mind, because they are important life lessons that it took me 28 years to learn.

It’s Okay to Ask for Help

I work in a very small office, and the work we do should really be taken on by an army at least three times our current size. That leaves a little number of people to do a big amount of work. We get it done, but it takes a lot of effort and many early mornings and late nights.

One day last week, I was feelingly particularly swamped. At the end of the day, I went into my boss’ office for a quick recap of what was going on for the rest of the week. As we talked, I finally came out and said, “this is a lot, and I’m a little bit overwhelmed.” I didn’t even look at her, because I half expected to be fired on the spot.

Instead, she said, “I was wondering how long it would take for you to ask for help! Listen, we work a lot here, but a big part of your professional development will be learning when to ask for help and learning when to say no. It’s okay to say no. Not a lot, but every once in a while. Just, you know…don’t make it a habit.”

A good psychiatrist makes everything better

I really wanted an Adderall prescription to help me focus at work, so I asked some doctor friends what buzz words I should use during my psychiatrist appointment.

Thanks to those friends, and my uncanny ability to memorize key terminology, I walked out of that appointment with two prescriptions for Adderall and Ativan. Ativan, my friends, is an anti-anxiety medication, and it is EVERYTHING. You take it right before bed, and you get a smooth eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. In addition, you wake up with little to no worries. I’m obsessed. Work isn’t super busy anymore, so I’ve cooled it on the Adderall, but my relationship with Ativan is perhaps my most important relationship to date.

I almost feel silly for not being on this winning combination of prescription drugs during law school. If I had to do law school over again, I would definitely get medicated.Seriously. Back then, I was a bit of a hippie; I believed that water and yoga can heal anything. I still believe that to be the case 95 percent of the time, but when the going gets rough…Ativan.

This ends my love letter to stress management. I also promise to be back in a more regular capacity because, really, I have no excuse.

Peter Davidson (@PeterDavidsonII) is a young lawyer rants about news & politics and raves over the ups & downs of life after law school in the current legal economy. 

Featured image courtesy of [Flickr]

Peter Davidson II
Peter Davidson is a recent law school graduate who rants about news & politics and raves over the ups & downs of FUNemployment in the current legal economy. Contact Peter at



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