Mental Health for the Family Law Practitioner

Tonight, I had the pleasure of speaking to the Canakaris Inn of Court (Clearwater, FL) about dealing with stress in the practice of family law.

The biggest thing that stresses me out these days is being late.  Ironically, my plane that was supposed to depart Palm Beach airport at 1:30pm was delayed until 5:01pm.  This made for an interesting adventure as the Inn dinner would be over by 7:00pm.  Not only was I able to make it, I was home by 9!

Super thanks to Ty Zdravko who not only arranged my trip, but joined me in overcoming many obstacles in a very short period of time.   Ty also ensured that Mark Perenich and Wayne Boyer were able to get me home in their private Bonanza aircraft.  It was a sweet ride and a clear night.

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I have never traveled over Florida at 7,000 feet, and can now highly recommend it.  And as I told Ty, now we have an incredible story about the first time we met!

Below is a quick synopsis of some of the topics we discussed.

I look forward to our next adventure!!!!

Mental Health for the Family Law Practitioner

How do we stay sane with a booming divorce practice?

By Eddie Stephens, Esquire

As a busy board certified divorce attorney, I put a lot of effort into managing stress and living a balanced life.  I have been doing this for 18 years and can honestly tell you I live a very happy life.

During those 18 years I have developed many skills for dealing with stress and anxiety.  Here are some of those tips:

Breathe.  Seems pretty basic, right?  But you will be surprised how those autonomic functions seem to stop working when confronted with stress or anxiety.

The brain needs oxygen to think.  Your organs need oxygen to function properly.  So breathe!  Take it in and let it fill your body.

Deep breathing has been scientifically proven to; detoxify your body (release toxins), releases tension, relaxes Massager mind/body, relieves emotional problems and pain, massages your organs, strengthens the immune system, improves posture, increases digestion and strengthens your lungs and heart.

The Hindus believe we all have a limited number of breathes.  Therefore, deep breathing is seen as necessary for the extension of life.

Be competent.  Whatever you do, be a master of it.  I chose to specifically focus on family law.  By knowing every aspect of my vocation, I am confident and do not get anxious about work issues.  It took several years to learn my trade well enough to the point I could teach it to someone.  By putting that effort in early, I have eliminated many uncertainties that would have caused additional anxiety.  Whatever it is you do; do it well.

Eat / Sleep / Exercise:  Your body is a machine.  It requires proper fuel and rest.  It also requires regular exercise.  Neglect your physical health and your body and mind will not adjust well to the unexpected curveballs life has in store for each of us.

Be patient.  We are human.  We all have our personal struggles.  We do not know all of the struggles of those whose path we cross.  Allow yourself to be patient with others (and don’t forget to breathe).

Let go.  Most of us have baggage.  Why would you let your life be defined by a negative event?  There are things that are within your control and those things that are not in your control.  Logic dictates you can change those things within your control but cannot change those things outside of your control.  If that is the case, then why would you allow those things outside of your control to cause you to suffer?  If you let go of a hot rock, the burning will stop and you can heal.  It requires a conscious decision to let go.

Eliminate Tolerations.  Energy level is a major factor in our quality of life.  Your energy level is being drained by things in your life that you are tolerating.  When we stop putting up with small annoyances in our daily life, we create room for things that make us feel good.  A toleration can be as simple as a missing button on your shirt or as complicated as having an unfulfilling workplace.  In any event, make a list of things (identify) that annoy you, and make an active effort to eliminate those things.  Cross them off your list as you go.

Do Something That Matters.  I think everyone will agree that by having a more productive, functional society we have to leave this world in better condition than we found it. We have to make a commitment to make a difference. As we do, we are leading by example.  If this is done in an enthusiastic, appropriate manner you will find it to be contagious and others around you will become infected, and thus the cycle continues.  If everyone in the world put effort into a selfless act, well… this would certainly be a better place. It is unrealistic to think that everyone will take this extra step. However, if you did, that would be one person. If you do so enthusiastically, you might influence others to do the same.  Having a cause or hobby will add necessary balance especially when things get hectic at work.

These are a few tips that have helped maintain my sanity.  I hope you find them helpful.

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^— About the tie.  Every year I (a Miami Hurricane Alum) makes a friendly wager with another attorney in my office, Dane Leitner.  Needless to say, I have been on the loosing end of the bet as of recent history.  UM lost again this year and last night Dane let be know that my payment was wearing this tie.  Neither of us new some deranged individual would open fire at Strozier Library in Tallahassee injuring three students.  So while I hated losing a bet, I felt a sense of reverence wearing that tie on that day.  Just don’t tell Dane.

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2 thoughts on “Mental Health for the Family Law Practitioner

  1. Thomas R. Weller

    Your thoughts about doing something that matters is right on the spot. To get out and do something for others, not expecting a reward, is a wonderful way to alleviate stress and, at the same time, do something really important in this world. For me the outlet has been involvement in one or more Kiwanis Clubs. Their primary focus is children: especially the very young. I’ve done this since 1984.

  2. Lynn Rhodes

    Kudos to the Family Law Practitioners “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” — Theodore Roosevelt

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