Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength. – Charles Spurgeon
Having been in association with a criminal lawyer in Brampton for several years now I know it is expected from a lawyer to be calm and composed when presenting a case. But the faces of anxious clients and their unsaid words usually make the lawyers nervous and encourage them at the same time to give their best.
While getting stressed for a legal professional is unusual, it is completely normal for someone facing a trial for committing a crime. After all, being charged with a criminal offence is no joke. Moreover, the entire process is unfamiliar, and you’re not sure what to say and what not. I understand how taxing that is. That’s why it is important to cope with this stress or else it can take a toll on your emotions and health, and, in turn, have a negative impact on your case.
Here are a few tips for individuals facing a trial to help them handle their anxiety in court.
Strategies to Reduce the Stress of a Trial
Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, and Nicotine
Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that elevate your level of stress rather than reduce it. In fact, excessive intake of caffeine increases the risk of anxiety, especially panic attacks, in sensitive individuals. And, alcohol is a depressant if consumed in large quantities. If you don’t want to experience a sudden episode of intense fear triggering physical reactions in the courtroom, it is advisable to avoid or reduce consumption of alcohol, nicotine, and drinks containing caffeine. Needless to say, don’t come to court after having a few drinks out of nervousness. Not only will you lose your case but you will also end up getting charged for a few more offences.
Get More Sleep
I know it is easier said than done, particularly when you’re facing a criminal trial. However, sleep and stress are connected. Getting enough sleep is essential for good health and reduced stress. Unfortunately, stress also interrupts sleep patterns as thoughts of getting convicted or answering complicated questions from the Crown attorney keep whirling in your head. As a result, it stops you from relaxing and falling asleep. But your aim should be to maximize your relaxation before going to sleep and go to bed at roughly the same time each day so that your mind and body get adjusted to a predictable bedtime routine. Also, avoid doing any mentally demanding work several hours before going to bed so that your brain can calm down.
Exercise or Meditate
Working out regularly is a great way to relax your body and mind which also helps reduce stress. Take out time from your schedule and do some light exercises such as a quick swim, brisk walking, jogging, a 20-minute yoga session, or a long bike ride. This will help you feel good and reduce symptoms of mild depression and anxiety. If your body’s physical ability doesn’t allow you to exercise, meditation is your best bet. All you need to do is sit and relax, close your eyes, stop thinking about your tensions, forget about the unpleasantness of past events and the uncertainty of the future, and just be.
Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
Unhealthy eating patterns can send stress levels skyrocketing and potentially increase your risk of health problems. On the other hand, eating a regular, well-balanced diet not only controls your mood but also leads to reduced anxiety levels. According to an article published in August 2015 in the journal ‘Stress’, the amount of nutrients you consume can impact the brain’s neural circuits that control emotions, motivation, and mood. That’s why a healthy diet rich in nutrients such as omega-3s, vitamin E, and polyphenols, is necessary to improve your overall health and lower your stress level. Make sure you take a light and healthy meal on the date of the hearing in court instead of skipping it so that you are in a relaxed mood at the time of trial.
Talk to Someone
There can be a lot of things that you might be thinking about, such as court proceedings or the incident that led to the trial, but don’t want to share. However, keeping your thoughts to yourself can make you even more tense. Just talking to someone about how you feel can be helpful. Sharing your thoughts with a friend or a family member will help release built-up tension and distract you from your suffering.
Keep a Stress Diary
Keeping a stress diary is an effective stress management tool, especially when you’re about to face a trial. Regularly record information about the stresses you’re experiencing. For example, if you messed up at your first date of trial because you were too nervous, note the episode in a diary, the cause of stress in more detail, and analyze how you can manage your stress the next time you experience a similar situation. At your second trial date, analysis of your diary will help you better understand the sources of stress and constructive ways to prepare for and manage them.
Allegations of an offence, especially a criminal offence, can lead anyone to feel ashamed, unworthy, frightened, and angry, triggering stress and anxiety. But feeling nervous can cause a panic attack that can make the judge and jury feel you’re guilty. Don’t let that happen. These strategies to cope with the stress of a trial will come in handy so you feel more optimistic in the courtroom and fight for your rights with confidence. Remember, your attitude towards the case plays a vital role in making your lawyer confident of your win.