Lawyers Stress Part 2: The Zen of Lawyer Maintenance

From Awareness to Action

We saw in Part 1 of Lawyers Stress that lawyers are ranking very high in rates of depression and are suffering the terrible consequences of this affliction.  We also discussed some of the the reasons behind this phenomenon, including overwhelming workloads, workaholism and perfectionism, and highlighted some of the systemic negative qualities of the law profession in general.

Perhaps the greatest danger is for those who persist despite the presence of these problems and reach the critical burnout stage.

In Part 2, I want to focus on solutions and strategies that you can adopt to steer clear and reduce your stress factors so you can maintain for the long haul.

How You Can Avoid the Plague

The first point to make is that you must be proactive.  Don’t wait until you are coming unravelled.  Accept that this is an issue in our profession and take early measures to counteract it.  Ease off the gas if you are already seeing the symptoms we mentioned in Part 1.

If you are already suffering chronic stress and burnout, please do seek the help of a professional so you can get back on your feet as soon as you can.  It can be exceedingly difficult to fight this on your own, so do reach out.

Ok, let’s have a look at as many solutions as we can, because the more angles that you come at this, the better off you will be.

  • You’ve only got so much time and a lot of work to do, so you must, must give time-management the priority it is due.  A lot could be said here as there are many methods and areas that you can address, but to get you started, have a look at David Allen’s material over at Getting Things Done.
  • Delegate.  If you are a perfectionist, this is going to be a little tough, but take the necessary measures to surround yourself with competent people and delegate responsibility wherever you can.  This will free up time for you to focus on what you do best.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself and try to be as objective as you can when doing so.  It is far more sustainable to take consistent action than to try to do everything at once.  Ask yourself what you will have to sacrifice to obtain a specific goal and decide if it is worth it.
  • Do an audit of your emotional self and see where you are at.  This is tied in with awareness.  Staying aware of your mental and emotional state will alert you to issues before they become serious.  Take note of your thought stream and keep it positive.
  • Prioritize and organize.  Identify which tasks are the most time-sensitive and address those first.
  • Take care of your health and be holistic about it.  Eat well, drink enough water, and get adequate rest.  Don’t overlook the importance of enough sleep.  If you try to live on too little and use coffee to get you through the day, your adrenal glands will eventually exhaust themselves and you’ll be in trouble.  Get exercise and fresh air as often as you can.
  • Do whatever it takes to cultivate relaxation.  Whether it be meditation, yoga, swimming, getting massages or the recitation of positive mantras, take the time to include a relaxation technique in your lifestyle.
  • Strive for balance.  There is a reason for the old adage, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”  Do what it takes to ensure you have a social and personal life outside of your work.  No huge salary, corner office or fancy car is worth your health and sanity.

Closing Thoughts

I hope I’ve impressed upon you the fact that it is your health that is actually your greatest wealth, and you must protect and nurture it at all costs.  You can maintain a successful career in law and not succumb to the high-levels of stress involved, but you must be aware and you must be proactive.

This article in Psychology Today has more solutions to offer, and I am always here to help and answer your questions.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me.

If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the section below.  Now I’m going to go spend some time with my family and close the office door behind me.

Until next time!

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