Practical Tips on Coping with the
Stress of Jury Duty
by J. Chris Nordgren, Ph.D.

JURY DUTY RELATED STRESS

Stress is a normal part of life that everyone experiences at some time or another. It is likewise common for people to report that their jury duty experience was stressful. Although most jury duty is low stress experience, certain jury service experiences are likely to produce higher levels of stress.


NORMAL STRESS REACTIONS

Stress can have an affect on four basic area of an individual's functioning. For jurors this may include a number of the following common responses depending on stress levels:

  • Thoughts and Emotions -- frustration, doubt, anger, sadness, guilt, fear, lack of patience, distraction
  • Physical Functioning -- disrupted eating or sleeping schedule, fatigue, muscle tension, or nausea
  • Social Relationships -- withdrawal; feeling distant, isolated, or misunderstood; increased conflict with others, or increased dependence on others
  • Actions -- disruption of your normal schedule, trouble completing your normal responsibilities, working too hard, or avoiding demanding responsibilities

COPING WITH JURY DUTY - RELATED STRESS

Fortunately, most symptoms of stress related to jury service tend to go away on their own after a day or so. Sometimes people experiencing high stress from jury duty can benefit from using a few practical, common sense strategies to help them return to their normal lives. These strategies focus in the four basic areas of functioning discussed above.

it is recommended that you take inventory of what symptoms you have in each area of functioning and then select relevant strategies from the list below.

  • Thoughts and Emotions
    1. Remember that negative thoughts can lead to negative emotions and positive thoughts can evoke positive emotions.
    2. Be aware of what you are telling yourself about your jury experience.
    3. Try not to dwell on your frustration, fear, anger, or regrets.
    4. Keep in mind which coping strategies have worked for you in the past and which ones have not.
    5. Focus on any positive aspects of the jury duty experience that you can identify.
    6. Look for any redeeming, inspiring, or humorous aspects of your experience.
  • Physical (taking care of your body)
    1. Eat well -- (routine schedule, healthy foods, sensible proportions).
    2. Sleep -- (routine schedule to bed and getting up, getting enough sleep).
    3. Watch your caffeine and alcohol intake, and don't overdo it.
    4. Exercise (with physician approval) -- (e.g. walking, sports, aerobics).
  • Social (interactions with other people)
    1. Talk to others from the jury if you can.
    2. Communicate with family and friends what your needs are as you adjust.
    3. Don't necessarily expect those who were not on the jury to be able to understand or identify with what you have gone through.
    4. Be with people you like and those who are supportive.
    5. Talk to a pastor or someone else whom you respect for perspective on the moral dilemmas you have faced.
    6. Don't withdraw from the world and others.
  • Actions (things you do)
    1. Return to your normal routine as much and as soon as possible.
    2. Do things you enjoy.
    3. Pamper yourself.
    4. Try previously helpful strategies.

WHEN STRESS REACTIONS ARE DIFFICULT TO COPE WITH

On rare occasions, jurors may have severe stress reactions which maybe harder to cope with. Even these reactions are likely to go away on their own; however, there are at least two guidelines you should use to determine if you need more help in coping with the stress.

  • Severity of the reaction -- If your stress reactions to jury service are interfering with your ability to perform your normal work, school, family, or social responsibilities, then you should consider seeking help.
  • Duration of the reactions -- If you are having strong stress reactions lasting more than two to three weeks, then you should consider seeking help.
  • The desire for help -- If you simply feel the need or desire for help, you should probably seek it out.

WHERE TO SEEK ADDITIONAL HELP

If you desire additional help in coping with jury duty-related stress, there are several sources you should consider.

  • Many people prefer to seek help from a family pastor or spiritual leader.
  • You may also choose to talk to a close friend or trusted individual you respect who has been helpful in the past.



©1999 J. Chris Nordgren -- All rights reserved.
This document and the ideas described herein are the sole property of the copyright owner and may not be reproduced in any manner without his written permission.


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