Preparing yourself for court – dealing with “butterflies in your stomach”

Preparing yourself for court – dealing with “butterflies in your stomach”


Going to court can be a very stressful and daunting experience. This is normal. It is the fear of the unknown and the fact that a lot is usually on the line which all depends on the decision of the hearing. The court process is usually long, expensive and emotional.

Especially if it is your first time going to court, it is normal and arguably inevitable to feel a bit of stress and anxiety leading up to your court hearing. While it is hard to stop these tense feelings, there are many ways you can manage your anxiety leading up to your hearing and to ensure you are prepared and remain calm during your hearing.

Preparing physically and mentally

Firstly, it is important you get a good sleep the night before, although you may have a lot of thoughts running through your head that may make it difficult to sleep, try keep yourself distracted the night before such as going out for dinner with a close friend, reading a book, or watching a move or TV show. These activities will help distract you from the anxiety of the big day ahead and help you relax. Getting a good, relaxing sleep the night before will help you feel well rested the next day and ensure your mind is clear and focused.

On the day of your hearing, make sure you eat a healthy, substantial breakfast and drink plenty of water. While feeling anxious may result in a dry throat, feeling nauseous, and lacking appetite, you need to make sure you eat and drink water to ensure you are replenishing your body which will also help you stay focused and feel good on the day of your hearing.

To help you prepare physically, you may also want to do some exercise such as going to the gym or going for a walk outside. Exercise releases chemicals in your brain that can help lift your mood and clear your mind, exercising will also help distract you from feeling stressed and anxious.

You may also want to try some breathing exercises which can help you manage your stress and negative emotions in relation to going to court. Whether it is in the days leading up to your hearing, or on the day when you are in the court room, whenever you are feeling overwhelmed, try taking a deep breath in, count to three while holding your breath, then release it in a strong, long breath. This can help calm your nerves and help refocus your mind to the present moment.

To help you feel prepared, prior to the day of your hearing, pack your bag with anything you think you may need to help you get through the day such as a water bottle, healthy snacks, breath mints, a notepad and some pens. To help you feel more at ease, you can also bring a family member or friend as a support person.

Preparing your information and documents

If you are representing yourself, ensure you have prepared what you are going to say – prepare neat and succinct notes if you need to. Also ensure you prepare and bring with you all required documents and evidence that you require.

If you have a lawyer representing you, keep in regular contact with your lawyer and ask them any questions or concerns you may have. Your lawyer is there to act in your best interest and knows all the details of your issue, they are there to help you through your matter and answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Be organised on the day of your hearing

Make sure you wake up early on the day of your hearing so that you are not rushed or stressed.

Made sure you have organised everything you need for your hearing such as any documents and evidence you may need.

Plan ahead how you are going to get to court. Are you going to drive yourself? Is someone else going to drive you? Are you getting a taxi? Are you catching public transport? Whatever form of transport you are taking, make sure you allow sufficient time to get to court to allow time for traffic, delays and finding parking.

Make sure you arrive to court at least between half an hour to an hour before you hearing is scheduled to start. This will give you time to find parking, go through security, find where you need to be and take some time to yourself to sit and calm your nerves before the hearing begins.

Please use these tips when preparing yourself for any court hearing. Don’t forget that you have lots of people to support you; your friends and family, as well as your lawyer.