From the Multnomah Lawyer: Ask the Expert - Anxiety in a Pandemic

Dear Expert,
My co-workers, the news, and everyone I know is talking about the economic downturn that is likely to occur due to the global pandemic. I am afraid that I am going to lose my job. My stress levels are so high that I can’t sleep. I don’t know who to talk to or what to do.
-Anxiously Social Distancing

Dear Anxious Social Distancer,
If you feel anxious and overwhelmed, you are not alone. This is a highly stressful time for many. There are many unknowns, which can lead to increased fear and anxiety about coronavirus, our individual health and the health of our loved ones, as well as the economy. As a starting point, I suggest looking into the resources provided by the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program (OAAP).

OAAP provides free and confidential counseling assistance to lawyers, law students, and judges. The program offers short-term counseling as well as referrals to other resources, support groups, workshops, CLE seminars, and educational programs.

All communications with the OAAP are completely confidential, and the counselors take this confidentiality very seriously. Conversations with the OAAP will not affect your standing with the Professional Liability Fund or OSB. OAAP does not disclose your information to anyone outside the OAAP without your consent. Contacts are kept strictly confidential pursuant to ORS 9.568, PLF Policies 6.150 - 6.300, OSB Bylaws Article 24, Oregon Rule of Professional Conduct 8.3(c)(3), and Judicial Code of Conduct for United States Judges Canon 3B(5). The only exceptions are: (1) to avert a serious, imminent threat to your health or safety or that of another person and (2) to comply with legal obligations such as ORS 419B.010 and ORS 124.060 (child abuse and elder abuse).

Each OAAP attorney counselor is both a lawyer and a counselor. While the coronavirus pandemic is a new challenge,
OAAP counselors’ training and experience will assist them in listening to you and helping you navigate toward solutions.

Whether your current concern is stress, depression, anxiety, alcohol or other drug use, or other life changes, the counselors can help you develop the skills you need to meet the demands and stressors of your professional and personal life in a healthy way.

In addition to the OAAP, if you have health insurance, check with your insurance company to determine what types of benefits, including counseling, you may be able to access through your insurance. Availability of remote counseling via video platforms and telephone has grown over the past years, and counselors are using these tools to connect with people during the pandemic. Furthermore, some of the remote options are more affordable than traditional in-person counseling. Some employers also offer their employees the ability to connect with financial advisors at no cost to the employee. Depending on the source of your anxiety, it may be beneficial to take advantage of these types of resources as well.

Remember, everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, so it is important to figure out healthy ways to take care of yourself and your community. The CDC recommends the following as a few ways to cope with stress during the pandemic:

  1. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories.
  2. Take care of your body: take deep breaths, stretch, try to eat healthy well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, try to avoid alcohol and drugs.
  3. Make time to unwind.
  4. Connect with others – talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  5. Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row. 

Need Help? Know Someone Who Does?
If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or you feel like you want to harm yourself or others:

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