Six Ways to Increase Well-Being as a Lawyer
The legal industry upholds certain professional standards and responsibilities, including the ability to serve clients with competence. However, survey after survey shows us that the stress and emotional toll, often embraced as evidence of a zealous commitment, is leading to a decay of integrity. It is more difficult to show respect to self and others when we are not thinking clearly.
At ChIPs, by advancing women in tech, law and policy, we are focused on being part of the solution. We strive to foster mental wellness and create a thriving legal industry. Here are six ways to bring well-being to your day.
- Practice Mindfulness. You’ve heard the expression you can’t control all the things that happen around you, but you can control your reaction to them. That all starts with your mindset and that can change in 60 seconds. Consider taking a mindfulness minute to ground yourself. Apps like Calm, Glo, Insight Timer, and Headspace offer meditation and mindfulness exercises. Pick one and create a habit of even for just one minute per day.
- Embrace Gratitude. Are you grateful for your feet, your health, the food on the table, your family? Write it down. Set a timer for one minute and remind yourself of all of the things you are grateful for. It will feel so good!
- Develop tiny habits. Creating a habit that becomes part of your routine will help you increase productivity and make you feel better about your time. You don’t need to do everything all at once, you can start with a tiny habit. Identify one thing that would serve you and take one small action to help you work towards that goal. For example, if you are procrastinating on a project, one tiny habit might be as follows: Each morning after I get my coffee, I will work on this project for five minutes. On the other hand, if you want to build physical strength, a tiny habit might be: Each morning after I shower, I will do one jumping jack. What habit would you li¬¬ke to add to your day? Learn more from B.J. Fogg, the author of Tiny Habits.
- Transition away from a 24/7 availability. Establish a reasonable number of hours to work each day and stick to it. Wherever you are in your career journey – in law school, a partner in a law firm, or in-house counsel – develop a routine that puts you first. “Work overload contributes to burnout by depleting the capacity of people to meet the demands of the job (Wiley, 2016)” and a lack of perceived control is a key contributor to burnout. Determine what is a healthy amount of time at work, and then stop working. Allow yourself time to rest and enjoy time with friends and family. Setting boundaries around work is important, not just for yourself but also for your team. Do you want your legacy to be of someone who worked their team so hard that they all suffered from burnout, depression, or worse? Or will you choose to lead with love, respect, and empathy?
- Sleep. What if getting enough sleep could be as easy as it sounds? Are you ready to make it a priority? Neuroscientists know that a lack of sleep contributes to a lack of focus and can contribute to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Listen to this podcast with Dr. Michael Twery, Ph.D., now-retired director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Division of Lung Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.
- Ask for help. You do not have to pretend to have all the answers. All successful people have had someone help them get to where they are. Join an organization like ChIPs and connect with the people who want to be part of celebrating your path to the top.