The attorney’s job is not only physically tough but emotionally and mentally as well. They are in the middle of one of the most difficult times in people’s lives. That is the reason why, in the midst of their high-pressure environment, many of them are prone to substance and alcohol abuse. In this episode, Juliet Clark talks to Brooke Walker, the founder of the 100 Years of Bliss—a wellness company focusing on culture and health of other companies. She talks about the things many attorneys go through, dealing with anxiety and stress, and helping them how to go into a courtroom calm and able to think. Brooke then shares some breathing techniques and meditation to help you, attorneys or not, overcome tough times.
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Helping Attorneys Deal With Stress And Anxiety Amidst High-Pressure Environments With Brooke Walker
I want to remind you before we get started to go over and take our Promote Profit Publish Quiz. You can find that at www.PromoteProfitPublishQuiz.com and also go over and subscribe to us over on YouTube. If you’re reading and you want to see some of our guests, all of the videos are over there. You can see them talking with me and be in their normal self. My guest is one of my clients. Her name is Brooke Walker. Brooke has many years of experience as a business leader in the areas of management, law firms, health, and leadership.
Her experience in psychology, finance, and healthcare industries have made her an asset to businesses and the holistic views she brings. Brooke has spent more than a decade, teaching, speaking, achieving sales goals, and leading in these fields. She is the Founder of the 100 Years of Bliss. 100 Years of Bliss is a wellness company focusing on the culture and health of other companies. Her passion is to empower, educate, and advise companies on the benefits of meditation and mindfulness and how those two things increase health, productivity, sales, and the bottom line. Welcome, Brooke.
Thank you. I’m excited to be here.
One of the groups that you work with our attorneys. Should we make a couple of lawyer jokes before we go? Would you do that to get started? The reason I’m mentioning that is it’s such a high-pressure business. Can you talk a little bit about why attorneys? Why would you want to hang out with attorneys?
I love attorneys, which is not something most people say. It’s because most people haven’t seen what the average attorney goes through, especially the amount of stress that they take on a day-to-day basis. I grew up in that. You could say I was like cutting my teeth on my dad’s law books because I was born right as my dad was taking the bar. Even when I was a teenager, I started working for my dad. He used to take me to law libraries. He would put reporters in front of me and have me start reading things. He’s like, “Read this and then tell me what it means. Summarize it for me.” I would read them and half the time I fell asleep.
I was going to say your dad sounds like a fun guy. Let’s blow off Disneyland now and go to a law library.
What made me want to work with attorneys is seeing my dad work the way that he worked. The fact that attorneys have a difficult time turning that off. What I do will help them become better attorneys, but I want to help them become better parents, spouses, day-to-day parts of their community, not just better lawyers because it’s the balance of it all. Attorneys are burning out. Attorneys are four times more likely to use some substance abuse, whether it’s alcohol or drugs. They need to learn how to turn it off so that they can continue to do what they do because of what they take on a day-to-day basis, like examples of what I saw my dad work on.
My dad used to work in family law. He was working with people through divorces, child custody battles. There was a while he took on some county cases. He had a murder trial that was hard. This was the stuff he was doing on a day-to-day basis. When he came home, he was shot a lot of the time emotionally. I know that it was a very big strain between my parents. I know it was a big strain on his ability to be there more often with us when we were kids. My dad was always working. There are not many attorneys who work less than 60 hours a week.
They have the whole billable hour thing and restraints. I would imagine given all that time, what you’re talking about, it was hard for your dad to be present.
It is the stress, the anxiety, the depression. It depends on the fields they’re in. I don’t know that every attorney in every field feels that way and nobody feels bad for attorneys. There’s no sob story out there about feeling bad for attorneys. If you see what some attorneys take on, they are in the middle of somebody’s worst time in their life. It’s not that one client that they have at any given time. I spoke with an attorney. At the height of one of her hardest times, she had 300 open cases. They’re managing all these different things and having to keep all these balls in the air. It’s this person’s horrible case and this person’s horrible case, and this person’s divorce, custody and molestation charge. The underbelly of what people go through on a day-to-day basis. I don’t think that they get a lot of credit for some of the stuff they’re working on, especially attorneys who are trying to make a difference. Think about immigration law, talk about some losing battles there. You’re trying to do the best you can. Sometimes your client is on the worst side.
When I went through my divorce, I had a little custody thing when it was all over. I went back to our original attorney. He said to me, “I’ve been in this business 25 years and yours is the worst divorce I ever handled. I met this guy in court,” or he was up against him. He said, “He was the biggest son of a B I’ve ever gone up against, and you should go hire him.” I did.
I remember my divorce. When I got divorced, my ex hired one of the top female attorneys, which is always interesting. She was somebody who was pretty well known and he always didn’t show up. We would have mediations. He didn’t show up and she would be sitting there. You could tell. I know because I worked in a law office long enough. It’s embarrassing when your client’s not there and they’re paying you. They’re going to pay you anyway. That’s another stress they go under too because they’re billing. It doesn’t mean they’re getting paid.
That would be very accurate, especially if you’re a criminal attorney and you lose. I can’t imagine your guy in jail is paying you much.
I’ve been interviewing a lot of attorneys because I’m dialing down some of the big issues they come up against. One of the gentlemen I spoke with worked in PI for a while. He goes, “It was difficult. There are many things I couldn’t unsee.” He was doing wrongful deaths and stuff. They can look at a car that had been burned and they’re like, “This is going to be an awesome case,” because of all the different things and looking ahead at what this case was going to bring. He’s sitting there and he can’t get over the fact that there was a child in the car. That’s some of the stuff that happens on a day-to-day basis.
I remember my dad had a client. This woman had been almost murdered, stabbed many times, and had had this horrible thing. All my dad was doing for her was a hearing to make sure the guy didn’t get out of prison. He still got the full case file that had pictures of the entire incident. He still had to dive into the details of what had happened to this woman, who had barely lived through this horrible attack. I remember that stuff all the time. There’s a lot of attorneys who are taking on that stuff on a regular basis. I don’t think that anybody’s ever looked at attorneys and seen the other side of that. Every movie out there on attorneys is not about what an attorney goes through. It’s like them and the court being the superhero type of thing. It’s not them going home and being like, “I can’t deal with life anymore.”
I just downloaded Matthew McConaughey’s new book. Are you telling me the Lincoln lawyer isn’t real? I’m shattered. Matthew McConaughey isn’t real. How does meditation help them in these situations?
Meditation and breathing are about turning things off. It’s about the fight or flight. You’re under a certain amount of stress and a certain amount of stress is healthy. A lot of us, especially high achieving people and attorneys, thrive on a certain level of stress. There’s the excitement that you get out of it. There’s a tipping point for that where it begins to create health problems. It begins to cause anxiety and depression. It also begins to take away from our physical health. It begins to add to health problems like high blood pressure.
That parasympathetic sympathetic nervous system, when the sympathetic nervous system kicks in, it’s all the health issues that come with that. We get into that place that we can’t heal. Our blood pressure increases. When you do breathing techniques or you do meditation techniques, it clicks that off so that you can think better and be able to do things on a more functional basis. One of them that I teach is so that people can go into a courtroom or they can go into a deposition and do one of these techniques before they walk into these places and calm and be able to think. It’s like having to get on stage.
That initial anxiety, it’s turning that off so that you can walk in and do what you need to do and be able to think because when you’re under anxiety, your brain begins to shut down. You’re in survival mode. Another part of that is being able to turn it off when somebody gets home so that they can be there with the people that mean the most to them, and also be able to go to bed at night. That’s another thing too. If you know you have something going on or you’ve had a stressful day, it is hard to go to sleep. I imagine it’s similar to what police officers deal with on a regular basis and other stuff, but I happened to focus on attorneys.
I would imagine that a lot of these guys are Type A personalities and even the thought of sitting there and doing something for five minutes is going to be hard. Would you suggest that people start with something guided first to get in and learn how to focus because it’s hard to shut down your brain sometimes?
I like breathing techniques to start out. Meditation and breathing have different benefits. My program is going to have some guided ones of different kinds. One of the breathing techniques that is even new to me is we’re breathing too deep and we’re not breathing from the gut. When I was initially teaching and I was teaching more deep breathing, but one of the things they’ve been finding is that one of the biggest problems we have is that we’re not getting enough carbon dioxide. The problem with that is that the oxygen doesn’t get into ourselves. Breathing deeper doesn’t get you more oxygen. It depletes you quicker. The best way for people to breathe is to breathe for five and a half breaths per minute. You’re doing slow breathing through your nose. Everybody’s a bunch of mouth breathers.
Even at night, sometimes I’ll catch myself with my mouth open when I wake up and a dry throat. Is that like the Kundalini breath?
A lot of this is different. One of the interesting things about this that they’ve found is these ties into a bunch of different yoga, meditation and religious mantras and things. They’ve tied it that when you’re doing this type of breathing, it ties into all these very specific ones that have been done for centuries and ages. The reason they’re finding that it’s beneficial is that the length of the breathing and the breathing through the nose is what creates immediately getting you into a parasympathetic state so that your body can heal and that your body can relax. It begins to turn off that stress signal.
First thing in the morning, is there a certain amount of times a day? I know some people do it in the morning and before they go to bed at night.
The biggest thing I say about it is if you don’t do it regularly, it’s not going to be easy for you. You need to find some regularity with it when stress comes on. We have our day-to-day. The more you practice something on a regular basis and you should do it daily, whether you do it in the morning, the evening or the middle of the day isn’t necessarily important as long as you’re spending a certain amount of time doing it on a regular basis. Even five minutes a day can have a big impact. Five minutes a day of controlled breathing to get yourself into a relaxed state and the benefit of doing it regularly as the next time you have something stressful coming up, you can practice it again and you can get there quicker. It’s about having that relaxed state and having it a natural place that you go to.
It’s like going to the gym regularly. It’s training. If you had a dog, when you never trained it and it pees all over the house, it’s never going to stop doing that. You have to regularly train the dog. The problem is that anybody in any profession can allow their brain and their minds to not be trained or to be trained in bad and negative habits. This is about training better habits. If you don’t train your brain to turn off occasionally and get into that parasympathetic state and that controlled breathing, the first few times you do it is going to be more difficult. The more that you do it, the easier it becomes, which is important when you have a difficult situation come up because it comes to you more easily. You’ve practiced it so it flows.
It’s like any self-development tool. You have to practice it and become aware of when you have to use it. It is the same thing when you practice and then you become aware of “I’m stressed.” I need to take a minute and rebalance here. It’s like any self-development tool that you use. Those people who read the book and then they don’t practice it at all. I know what’s going on. I read that book. I didn’t do any of the exercises in the back of the chapter, but I read it.
It’s like you have to put it into action. If you don’t put it into action, then you’re never going to get anything out of it.
What did we get out of the episode? Don’t let your attorneys pee all over the house.
That’s the takeaway.
It’s always fabulous talking to you. If you knew us, we will call each other for one little question and it turns into two hours of you never know where it’s going to go.
When we get on the phone, we go down rabbit holes.
Where can we find you?
You can always find me at 100YearsOfBliss.com. I’m on social media, LinkedIn. I’m at 100YearsOfBliss.com or Brooke Walker, but it is easier to find the 100YearsOfBliss.com than it is Brooke Walker because there’s a lot of Brooke Walkers.
That’s the one thing about being a Juliet Clark. There are only 3 or 4 of us. We’re all writers. Thank you so much for being on. You guys all got your lessons out of this and you got the right ones and not the one I told you at the end.
Thank you. It’s always a pleasure.
- YouTube – Superbrand Publishing
- 100 Years of Bliss
- Brooke Walker – LinkedIn
About Brooke Walker
Brooke has over 20 years’ experience as a business leader in the areas of management, law firms, health, and leadership. Her experience in psychology, finance and the healthcare industry has made her an asset to businesses and the holistic views she brings. Brooke has spent more than a decade teaching, speaking, achieving sales goals, and leading in these fields. She is the founder of 100 Years of Bliss, a wellness company focusing on the culture and health of other companies. Today her passion is to Empower, Educate and Advise companies on the benefits meditation and mindfulness have to increase health, productivity, sales and the bottom line. Her work in client relations with individuals, teams, and leadership produces results beyond the scope of the deliverable requirements. Using dynamic & focused science-based methods, she discerns weaknesses within the corporate structure & implements strategic direct communication to expediently provide resolutions. She creates strong foundations for businesses and individuals to thrive within their ecosystems.
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