The Ultimate Guide to Self-Care for Lawyers
All too often, people seek out drugs or supplements for self-care before they cultivate behavioural changes. Many supplemental stress relievers are a temporary fix. Instant relief will only get you so far, and soon enough, the stressors of life outpace the benefits of the supplements. Then, you are back to square one seeking some ‘novel’ stress relief activity. Lawyers are one of the most highly afflicted groups in terms of mental illness, which is why self-care for lawyers is extremely important.
All the massages in the world will never accomplish anything if your desk posture is poor and you spend most of the day sitting down. The perfect combination of coffee and nootropics won’t improve your concentration and productivity if you fail to obtain adequate sleep. Hitting the gym is not as important as fueling your body with healthy choices instead of processed junk food and inflammatory seed oils.
Lawyers need to take care of their foundational self-care needs, meaning behavioural changes, if they seriously want to improve their levels of self-care and wellbeing. Contacting a wellness coach-consultant for lawyers and law firms can help you better understand self-care strategies that will work for you.
What Is Self-Care?
Self-care is the conscious and empowered acts one takes towards promoting their own physical, mental, and emotional health. Self-care can take many forms, but at its foundation, they are self-directed behavioral acts that serve as our conscious immune system to the stressors of life.
When self-care for lawyers is not viewed as a priority, the conscious immune system weakens because it becomes overwhelmed and fatigued. Self-care becomes a battle against the tide. A weakened immune system makes the body susceptible to illness stressors that could otherwise be manageable. This often leads to burnout.
To become self-care aware, you need to assess how you are caring for the five self-care domains. Those are:
Physical Self-Care for Lawyers
Physical self-care is not only important for the pain-free and efficient running of your body, but our physical wellbeing is strongly connected to all other self-care domains. Think how much harder life is when you are living with severe back pain; it negatively impacts all the other self-care domains. On the other hand, when your body is in an optimal state, you will inevitably think more clearly, feel better, and have more energy to direct towards the other self-care domains.
Physical self-care includes how you fuel your body, the quality and quantity of sleep you’re getting (sleep hygiene), how much physical activity you are doing, and how much relaxation and recovery activities you do.
Sleep as Self-Care
According to Harvard University, there is a significant overlap between lack of sleep and various psychological problems, such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and ADHD. People who work in the legal profession may laugh at the idea of getting a full eight hours of sleep per night, but at the end of the day, that extra hour of sleep will allow you to perform efficiently and productively the next day, whereas those drowsy midnight emails may not be the best quality you can offer.
To self-assess your physical-self-care routine, answer and score the following questions to highlight the areas you need to improve:
Are you getting enough sleep?
Is your diet fueling your body well?
Are you taking charge of your health?
Are you getting enough exercise?
Human beings are inherently social creatures. We are involved in tribes, and our ability to socialise successfully in a group has been a key determinant of our survival for millennia. Social groups can provide the foundation of human identity, giving our lives meaning and purpose. However, the structure of many people’s lives in the modern world makes us ever more isolated; it is becoming less and less common to personally know the members of your community.
There are many benefits to boosting your social self-care, but they all begin with cultivating and maintaining close relationships. This takes consciously putting time and energy into building your relationships with others. There is no hard and fast rule about how many hours you should devote to social self-care as each person has unique social needs. The key is to figure out what your social needs are and then to schedule in time to dedicate towards optimising your social self-care.
To self-assess your social self-care routine, answer and score the following questions to highlight the areas you need to improve:
Do you think you are getting enough face-to-face time with your friends and family?
What are you doing to nurture your relationships with friends and family?
When was the last time you felt fulfilled in your personal relationships?
Mental Self-Care for Lawyers
A person’s psychological well-being is greatly influenced by their thought patterns. Mental self-care for lawyers is about being cognizant of the health of your thought patterns and with what you fuel your mind with. In high-stress jobs or family life, people often feed their minds with negative thoughts.
Not processing past trauma or confronting toxic relationships can further entrench negative thought patterns that degrade our self-esteem and efficacy. You may think the media you watch or the friends you socialise with have little impact on your mental wellbeing, but this is not the case. Consuming too much negative media has a huge impact on our levels of anxiety and levels of self-consciousness. If many of your close friends or colleagues are very negative, this negativity can rub off and infect you. The legal profession is competitive, tough, and mentally straining. A harsh work environment makes self-care strategies for lawyers all the more important.
It is therefore important that our mental self-care is focused on neuroplasticity-promoting behaviours, which is in essence feeding our mind with healthy inputs, such as reading, learning a new subject or skill (juggling is excellent for this), and performing puzzles.
Other activities to practice mental self-care include practicing mindfulness, meditation, non-sleep deep rest, and journaling, which all work to promote mental wellness.
To self-assess your mental self-care routine, answer and score the following questions:
Are you making enough time for activities that mentally stimulate you?
Are you doing productive things to help you stay mentally healthy?
When was the last time you felt mental release/relaxation?
This study from the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry shows that lifestyles that include religion or spirituality are generally healthier, as they promote psychosocial well-being. These practices encourage social integration and give some people a purpose in life, which improves mental health and personal satisfaction. However, spiritual self-care can involve religion or another form of spirituality. Ultimately, it is about finding something that helps you develop a deeper sense of meaning, understanding, and connection that goes beyond yourself. This is of particular importance for lawyers, who are often faced with ethically and morally challenging situations. Take time to consider what is important to you, what you believe in, and where you find meaning in life.
Spiritual self-care for lawyers can be cultivated in many ways. Traditional methods include joining a church or temple or any other sacred or spiritual place, attending a religious service, praying, meditation, and traditional yogic practices. There are many modern secular alternatives available to aid in spiritual self-care. Even journaling on topics such as gratitude, life purpose, suffering, and what happens after death count as spiritual self-care. Volunteering for a local charity is an effective way to develop compassion and empathy for others.
To self-assess your spiritual self-care routine, answer and score the following questions:
Are you engaging in spiritual practices that you find fulfilling?
How would you rate your connections with others?
If asked: ‘what is your purpose in life?’ Could you give a succinct elevator pitch?
When was the last time you felt peacefulness, comfort, and joy?
Everyone’s emotional disposition varies but everyone needs coping skills/mechanisms to deal with their unique emotional disposition. When life provokes uncomfortable emotions, some may express anger, fear, others anxiety, or sadness. Emotional self-care means engaging in activities that allow you to consciously acknowledge and express your emotions.
Oftentimes people are quick to judge their own emotions, but this is not healthy for emotional self-care. Emotions are extremely important to wellbeing, and if you are experiencing any emotion, your body is trying to tell you something.
Emotional self-care activities can take many forms. It can be as simple as finding time to talk to a partner, family member, or close friend. Certain physical activities can be powerful tools for emotional catharsis. Hiring a coach or a therapist is another way to help confront and engage with your emotions.
To self-assess your emotional self-care routine, answer and score the following questions to identify areas to improve:
Do you have healthy processes in place for your emotions?
Do you regularly engage in activities that help you release emotions?
Do you feel you’re suppressing emotions towards people in your life?
Contact an Experienced Wellness Coach Dedicated To Helping Lawyers Today
This guide is intended to be an introduction to help lawyers find self-care strategies that work for them by personally assessing their needs. The more we become cognizant of our wellbeing, the more will begin to consciously set these as priorities in our lives and our behaviors will change for the better.
If you are serious about wanting to improve your levels of self-care and wellbeing and want to act on improving your self-care routine, the best results come from being assessed and evaluated by a wellness expert and ally to hold you accountable. Oftentimes, people are not fully honest with themselves about the areas of their lives that they need to change. This is where an outside, honest, unbiased perspective becomes invaluable.
As a result of my VIP360 program, lawyers can begin to develop self-awareness, distinguishing patterns that serve them or set them back. Especially for those seeking self-care strategies for lawyers, these programs may be of particular use, as they can serve as a regular reminder to take care of yourself, even during a busy workday.
As someone who has worked in a high-stress legal profession, I know the dangers of not investing in your own self-care. I decided instead to transform my career and focus on being my best self and focusing on my wellbeing. Having a high-stress career does not mean you need to sacrifice your self-care. Join me by checking out my comprehensive coaching program, and apply HERE to secure a spot on my very exclusive and comprehensive VIP360 program.