Attorney Wellness, 0321 MEBJ, 36 MEBJ, Pg. 44

PositionVol. 36 1 Pg. 44


No. Vol. 36 No. 1 Pg. 44

Maine Bar Journal

March, 2021


WILLIAM C. NUGENT, ESQ. is director of the Maine Assistance Program for Lawyers & Judges. Bill can be reached at

Gimme a Break! Efficient and Effective Methods of Stepping Back from Stress and Resetting Your Day

We have all had those days. Probably lots of them. Days when multiple deadliness, obligations and interruptions – all of which seem to demand our immediate attention – suck us into a vortex of stress and anxiety that taxes our concentration and equilibrium. Not to despair. It is a perfectly natural reaction to sensory overload. The human brain is designed to focus on one task at a time. For the most part, “multitasking”, as the term is commonly understood, is an oxymoron – essentially a neurological impossibility.1

Whenever we reach the point where it feels as if we can’t think straight it’s time to take a break and reset our brains. The break doesn’t need to take up much time. It doesn’t necessarily require leaving our chair. Here are some suggested activities. They have been shown to be effective for recentering concentration and emotions. They should allow anyone to return to their tasks with a clearer head and quieter mind.

Take a five-minute time out.

Research has shown that meditating for as little as a few minutes can lower blood pressure, respiration and heart rate. It also enhances the brain’s ability to focus.[2] The process is simple. Find a quiet place (or as quiet as possible). Turn your cellphone to silent. Press the Do Not Disturb button on your landline (if you still have one). Lower the lights, if you can. Sit comfortably in a chair and close your eyes. Take three deeps breaths, inhaling for a count of three and exhaling for the same. Ten breathe normally and focus your attention on your breathing. Extraneous thoughts will wander through your mind. Tat is perfectly normal. Try not to get carried away by them. You will never eliminate those random thoughts entirely. Simply endeavor to bring your attention back to your breathing every time your mind begins to wander. Initial attempts at this exercise will likely make those five minutes feel more like 30. Don’t get discouraged. The exercise will become easier over time.

If meditating in silence doesn’t seem to work, you might find guided meditations helpful. There are many...

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