If you’re facing trial, then you know just how lonely and isolating the experience can be. To have something that important looming over your head is almost impossible to ignore. It creates a chronic undertone of stress. But it’s important to deal with these emotions in a proactive way.
4 Strategies for beating the stress of an impending trial
Stress plays an important role in protecting you from harm and danger. But if you aren’t careful, excessive stress can actually weigh you down and cause a whole host of unwanted mental and physical side effects.
The physical symptoms of too much stress include low energy, headaches, digestive issues, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, nervousness, dry mouth, clenched jaw, etc.
The emotional symptoms include being easily agitated and frustrated (moody), feeling overwhelmed, having difficulty relaxing, feelings of loneliness and depression, and avoidance of others. And then, there are cognitive symptoms like constant worry, racing thoughts, inability to focus, and being pessimistic.
When stress lingers for too long, it can even lead to negative behavioral responses like procrastination, nervous behaviors (nail-biting and fidgeting), and an increased risk for using alcohol or drugs. In other words, things you don’t need in your life before or during a trial.
As you wait for your trial date, there are ways to fight back against stress. Let’s take a closer look:
Hire a good attorney
The first (and best) thing you can do is hire a good attorney to handle your case. If you currently have an attorney and feel like they aren’t doing everything they can to build a strong defense that proves your innocence, it may be time to switch counsel.
When searching for a criminal defense attorney, you want to find someone skilled and experienced. You also want someone who has a strong court presence (and experience winning trials similar to your own). This provides more peace of mind than working with an inexperienced attorney who is in over their head.
With a good attorney in your corner, you don’t have to worry about building your own defense or making sure everything is on track for trial. You can sit back and focus on your own needs.
Get plenty of sleep
Getting adequate nightly sleep is important in all situations, but it’s especially necessary when you’re facing high levels of stress. Here are some ways to sleep smarter:
- Set a specific schedule. If the plan is to go to bed at 10pm and wake up at 7am, treat those times with the same seriousness and urgency that you would a doctor’s appointment or meeting with your boss.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine takes roughly four to six hours to flush out of your system, so you should stop all coffee and soda intake in the early afternoon. As for alcohol, it might help you fall asleep, but it’ll cause you to toss and turn. Stick to one drink and avoid drinking within two to three hours of your bedtime.
- Create a proper bedroom environment that’s conducive to sleep. It should be dark, cool, and quiet. You should also remove all screens (including TVs and smartphones) from the bedroom.
- Keep a journal. If you’re someone who has trouble opening up and talking about your stress, fears, and concerns over the trial, you might find it easier to keep a journal. This will be the conduit through which you spill out your thoughts and address the emotional turmoil happening inside your brain. Journaling is a great stress reliever. In many cases, it can even reduce anxiety and give you greater confidence in different areas of your life.
- Spend time with your kids. If you have kids, grandkids, or nieces and nephews, try to spend as much time with them as you can. Children don’t know or care that you have a pending trial date. All they care about is having fun and loving you. Being around young kids has a way of forcing you to slow down and see the world through a different lens. They’ll take your mind off the trial and show you what’s important in life.
Find your calm and carry on
There’s always going to be some underlying sense of worry as you await your trial date. But it’s your responsibility to keep that worry in check and prevent it from becoming full-blown stress. By remaining calm and poised, you can keep your wits about you and put forth a better and stronger image at trial.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.
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