As a trainee you’re going to be constantly learning, dealing with new situations, and working long hours — it’s natural to be stressed out sometimes.
But it’s important to take steps to reduce and manage your stress levels before it takes over your life. We’ve covered four self-care strategies for stressed trainees.
Cut Back on Alcohol and Caffeine
As much as a glass of wine seems like a good way to unwind after a stressful day, it’s actually going to do more harm than good. Alcohol is a depressant that interferes with your mental health. It may make you feel more relaxed but it’s going to disrupt your sleep through the night, meaning you wake up in the morning feeling tired and more stressed out.
Coffee is another habit that can often end up making your stress a lot worse. While there’s nothing wrong with a cup of coffee to give you an early morning boost, when that turns into five, six, or more cups to get you through the day, it’s not going to help your stress levels.
Caffeine increases the stress hormone cortisol and also inhibits your body from absorbing adenosine which helps to calm you down. While you get an initial burst from increased adrenaline and dopamine levels after drinking coffee, it quickly fades and leaves you more tired, stressed, and on-edge than before.
Drinking coffee in the afternoons is also going to mess your sleep up — and sleep is incredibly important for managing stress.
Consider Short Term Solutions for Dealing with Anxiety and Stress
Cutting down on bad habits and looking after your health is going to help you deal with long term stress a whole lot better, but you’re still going to find yourself in some highly stressful situations as a trainee.
It’s important to have strategies for dealing with anxiety and stress as it happens so that it doesn’t overwhelm you.
Mindfulness can be a really valuable strategy for coping with stressful situations. Try using apps such as Headspace which can take you through meditation sessions. These will help you overcome stress and improve your focus and sleep.
Read feedback to help you understand the benefits and whether it might work for you — but even if you’re sceptical it’s definitely worth giving it a try.
Focus on Healthy Habits
When you’re working all hours, eating well and exercising often falls by the wayside — it’s often easier to grab a takeaway than cook something from scratch. But healthier habits are going to make you far better equipped to deal with the everyday stresses of being a trainee.
Try to incorporate a short workout into your schedule two or three days a week. Arrange to go for a run with a friend or sign up to a class at the gym — scheduling something in the diary is a good idea to prevent you forgetting or cancelling if you’re tired.
You could even just switch up your commute — walk or cycle instead of driving, or get off the bus a stop early and walk the last bit. If you’re working remotely, get outside on your lunch break for a quick walk.
When it comes to your diet, don’t underestimate how important eating the right things is. Add more fruit, vegetables and unprocessed foods into your diet to increase your vitamins and nutrients intake.
If you don’t have time in the evenings to cook something then make big batches of healthy dinners at the weekend and freeze them in portions — chilli, bolognese, and curry are all great and you can add in lots of vegetables to bulk them out.
Talk to Someone
Training to become a solicitor is bound to be stressful at times, but if you’re persistently feeling overwhelmed then it’s important to talk to someone about it.
Sharing how you’re feeling with other people, whether it’s your friends and family or someone at work, is going to relieve some of the pressure you’re feeling. It allows you to get a better perspective on the situation and get some advice on what to do and how to handle it.
Asking for help is an important part of tackling the problem and taking control of your stress — it’s not a sign of weakness. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know then you can talk to your doctor, call a helpline to speak to someone anonymously or find lots of resources online.
Dealing with stress is all about focusing on better, healthier habits, and finding ways to manage and cope with how you’re feeling. Don’t let the stress build-up and overwhelm you — follow these tips, talk to people, and most importantly seek out help when you need it.
Article written by Scott McDougall. Scott McDougall (MPharm) is the co-founder and registered manager of The Independent Pharmacy, an online pharmacy based in the UK. As well as medicine and treatments, The Independent Pharmacy also provides expert advice on stress and anxiety, including self-care guides and propranolol reviews.