By Alexandra Echsner-Rasmussen • October 08, 2017
Although the number of civil jury trials in the United States has decreased in recent years, the importance of how a jury case is presented remains constant. The amount of stress lawyers feel or perceive to feel during jury trials remains the same or has even increased. Recently, I was a member of a twenty lawyer trial team in a case that went to jury verdict. During the two week trial, our trial team learned a lot and was challenged both mentally and physically. Not only were we hyper sensitive in our preparation but we were challenged because we were not in our own environments and in our individual, usual routines of sleeping, eating, and self-care practices.
This recent experience was my first jury trial and allowed me the opportunity to observe more seasoned and experienced lawyers practice their natural beets even while both the stakes and the stress ran exceedingly high. Below are my observations. I hope they will encourage you, trial or not, to stay in your natural beet and tune into your individual daily needs.
1. Hydrate. It does not matter if you prefer cold water or room temperature water but make it a point to drink water, a lot of it, especially when you do not feel particularly thirsty. One of the lawyers was a fellow room temperature water drinker. The reason I chose room temperature water was because the work room was kept very cold and if I drank cold water I would have felt even colder and would have been uncomfortable. The reason my colleague consumed room temperature water was because it felt better to him. Water is essential to the functioning of our bodies and the maintenance of our well-being so make sure to stay hydrated.
In practice: Carry a bottle of water with you throughout the day and/or place it on the desk of your workspace and make sure to take sips frequently.
2. Fresh Air. I am the first to admit that I could have used a lot more fresh air. Sometimes walking to the court house would be my few minutes to get fresh air and appreciate the natural world around me. Sometimes I was a bit more limited. Moving forward, I am aware of how important fresh air is and how much it contributes to working efficiently and being productive. Make sure to increase your exposure to fresh air.
In practice: Any chance you get, step outside and take five deep, belly breaths. Inhale into your belly and exhale deeply.
3. Exercise. Not only does exercise help us create endorphins which make us feel happy but it also helps us feel more at ease and allows us to release nervous, stressful energy which is rampant during trial. I was impressed by a few lawyers on the team who made exercise a priority and stuck with it day in and day out or at least even whenever they had a chance.
In practice: Whenever possible, visit the hotel gym or get outside and move. Of course, sticking with your usual exercise/movement routine is recommended as you do not want to injure or tire yourself from trying something new.
4. Sleep. Sleep is one of the most underrated wellness practices that we can accomplish. It is regenerative and is healing for your skin and your entire body. While I concede there is hardly enough time to rest much less sleep during trial, try to. Your body needs sleep to function at the level you are working at. Before too long it came to the point where I had to choose between exercise and sleep. I chose sleep because, to me, sleep is restorative and what I felt I needed to prioritize so I could continue in my natural beet.
In practice: If a solid few hours of sleep is out of the question, try working in a few mini-naps to pick yourself up. Set your alarm or have someone call you to wake you up.
5. Communicate. Communication is crucial. If you are feeling in over your head, try to vocalize it to a supportive ear or even speak out loud to yourself in your hotel room or write it down on a piece of paper. Sometimes when the going gets tough we feel that we need to grin and bear it. Often times, however, what we need is validation that yes, this is hard, yes, you are doing a great job, and yes, we will make it through. Also, if you are working on a project be sure to share what you are doing clearly when asked. You never know who is working on the same task and you might even be able to split the work and meet half-way.
In practice: Voice your doubts either to someone you can confide in, to yourself, or by writing it down - getting it out. Be clear and concise in your words so you can be an efficient communicator.
And remember to maintain your positive and happy outlook and remember why you do what you do. If I learned anything from this experience and those I was fortunate to work with - it is that you are not the only one working hard and feeling overwhelmed so try to keep your attitude positive and light and keep that smile on your face. There is a reason you do what you do and only you can remember and reflect on that. If you are in a position to help out, be sure to offer your assistance no matter how small the task, find humor and laugh during the strenuous preparation, and keep the reason you do what you do close to heart.
I hope these tidbits are insightful and give you peace of mind if you are soon heading into a trial. Even if you are not, these observations can be put into practice during any stressful experience and, of course, are always there to help you continue forward in your natural beet.