We learn from the Harv. Bus. Rev., Vol. 85, May 2008 at 52, that stress causes the body to produce hormones called glucocorticoids. Those hormones over time wreak particular damage on cells in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is deeply involved in learning. For example, stressed people do not do math as well or process language as efficiently, and they have poorer memories of both the short and long term variety. The article mentions that one study found that “adults with chronically high stress levels performed 50% worse on certain cognitive tests than adults with low stress.” Obviously, these mental abilities are important to in-house counsel (See my posts of June 5, 2006 and June 12, 2005: stress among in-house lawyers.).
Stress that afflicts corporate counsel has many causes (See my posts of Feb. 8, 2006: litigation; Oct. 12, 2006: interruptions; Oct. 22, 2006: bureaucracy: Dec. 12, 2006: “extreme jobs”; June 30, 2006: workaholism; May 2, 2007: political fights; June 5, 2006: conflict; Nov. 24, 2007: pressures of work complexity, volume, and velocity or all of the above; and April 16, 2006: practicing solo.).
In-house lawyers can alleviate some of the stress they face (See my posts of Dec. 3, 2007: four tips to help reduce stress; Nov. 7, 2007: six more tips; April 16, 2007: corporate health centers; June 10, 2007: work/life balance; Feb. 25, 2008: exercise; May 18, 2007: vacations, with 7 references; and Aug. 2, 2006: Scottish-lawyer stress management.).