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  • Writer's pictureBrian Foley

Woodlands Criminal Defense Attorney - Managing Stress in the most stressful situations

Woodlands Criminal Defense Attorney - Brian Foley

When you realize you've been charged with a crime you immediately feel like the weight of the world is upon you. The weight of the government actually is being brought down upon you. People frequently consider thoughts like, "My life is over," "How will I support my family," and "There goes the career I wanted." How do you manage this kind of stress?





The advice I find myself giving the most is to help stop these racing thoughts about thinking that your life is over. What's my advice?

"Just take the next step and do your very best at the task in front of you right now."

This advice is about focusing on what you can control. Your lawyer will focus on the legal parts of your case. We handle the collection and gathering of evidence, negotiations with the State, and ultimately trial strategy.

People feel more secure and less stressed when they feel like they have a handle on things in their life. Having a criminal case robs you of this feeling. There is only one way to get it back. You must focus on the task in front of you and complete it to the best of your ability. This is what I do every day on my cases and it's the same strategy for success used by high level athletes, coaches, and CEOs. Focusing on problems that you can't control, (like "what is the prosecutor going to offer me" or "what is the jury going to do") don't get you anywhere. Letting your lawyer focus on these things allows you to focus on your health and wellbeing and get your life back on track. The more stressed you are the more likely you are to have an issue with bond conditions or, God forbid, another law violation.

My most successful clients have been those that work on themselves while I work on their case. This could mean taking an alcohol awareness class, or focusing on your family and relationships with friends. You still have to make plans for the future, but don't continually stress about the process of making that plan. Just schedule an hour to think about what you need to do, sit down, do it, and then let it go until the next time you can take a moment to do more planning. I'll bet you come up with something else you can do right now or tomorrow that will help you. If you have trouble putting plans down on paper, ask a friend or family member to help.

Try not to constantly re-live the events that caused the criminal charge to be filed. What happened, has already happened. All we can do now, is take the next step to put things right.


The Anxiety and Depression Association of America suggests that anyone experiencing stress, anxiety or depression should engage in regular physical activity. "Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects."


So get out there and play some basketball, golf, tennis, walk, run, or play with the kids. Whatever you need to do to get out of bed or off the couch, DO IT! Some people report having feelings of guilt for enjoying themselves during periods of stress. They think that they should be constantly working on the problem that they face. Criminal cases can take months or years to resolve and there will be plenty of time to relax as well as work diligently to help your lawyer on the case. You have a right to take time off and enjoy yourself and your family even during times of turbulence.


Leaning on friends and family can literally save your life. John's Hopkins University reported “Now we have evidence that psychosocial treatment – which provides support, not medication – is able to prevent suicide in a group at high risk of dying by suicide.” This type of treatment from the John's Hopkins study was talk therapy which is most frequently administered in an unofficial capacity by friends and family.

While you shouldn't talk about the facts of a criminal case with friends or family you should absolutely talk about the stress you've been having and the feelings of anxiety that can pervade your life during a criminal case. Many people feel uncomfortable telling their friends or family that they are having a difficult time but you will be surprised by how many people are also going through tough times. Reach out if you need help and if you know someone who is going through difficult times, reach out to them and listen.


For litigants who do not have counsel: Reading this blog post does not create an attorney client relationship. Call to set up a free consultation.

For the general public: This Blog/Web Site is for educational purposes only and it provides general information and a general understanding of the law, but does not provide specific legal advice. By using this site, commenting on posts, or sending inquiries through the site or contact email, you confirm that there is no attorney-client relationship created. Don't just read this as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney.

For attorneys: This Blog is informational and educational in nature and is not a substitute for Westlaw or other research and consultation on specific matters pertaining to your clients. As you know the law can change day to day based on recent case opinions. And unfortunately you shouldn't cite it in court as binding authority because it is not. Mention it to your friends, just seek real consultation if its something important.

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