Self-Care is an Important Aspect of Professionalism

Most law students and attorneys have to-do lists that stretch as far as the eye can see.   The legal profession intrinsically attracts people who are organized, who are planners and, let’s face it, who are a bit “Type A.”  Often, these qualities are among the things that make lawyers so successful.  The problem comes when the writer of the to-do list forgets to add a few line items for him or herself.  The needs of clients are important, but so are the needs of the attorney.  Professionalism can slip when an attorney or law student feels overwhelmed.  This lack of care for oneself can cause anger, depression, anxiety and a host of other issues.  If you have been feeling stressed or overwhelmed lately, check out the tips below on how to recharge and unwind.

1)      If your to-do list is the roadmap for your day, make sure to schedule some stops for yourself along the way.  If you are someone who eats lunch at your desk, consider going for a walk outside after you eat.  This gets your blood pumping and gives you time to clear your head.  If you can’t swing this at lunch, block out at least 20 minutes to get away at another time during the day.

2)      When you find yourself getting overly stressed, close your office door and do some light yoga or breathing exercises to calm your mind.

3)      Visualization can be very powerful.  If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to think of a happy memory, or picture yourself in a relaxing environment.  Also consider placing photos or other objects around your office that make you happy.

4)      If you have trouble sleeping because your mind is always spinning, institute a “winding down” period before going to bed.  During this time, do not check email, peruse social media, visit news websites, or watch TV.  Instead, use this time to do something that relaxes you such as listening to soft music, doing breathing exercises or sitting quietly.  If you have a restful night of sleep, you will feel more grounded during the next workday.

5)      If you feel especially overwhelmed, consider talking to a professional.  The Lawyer’s Assistance Program (LAP) is available at no charge to lawyers, law students, and their families to help them deal with mental health and stress-related issues in the legal profession.  If you are interested in getting in touch with LAP more information is available at http://illinoislap.org/about-lap or by calling them at 312-726-6607.