Consider these tips to avoid burnout and keep you primed for success in your legal practice.
Between hearings, client meetings, networking events, and more, you’re likely to carry a lot of stress as a lawyer. While lawyer wellness is often taken for granted, demanding schedules and intense workloads can easily lead toward burnout. Taking some time for your wellness can go a long way toward increasing your life satisfaction and prolonging the longevity of your legal career.
Here are 10 wellness tips for lawyers that you can keep in mind the next time you start to feel overwhelmed. Share with others at your law firm to help spread the word on the importance of wellness in the legal profession.
1. Incorporate a gratitude practice into your morning routine.
It’s easy to get lost in the chaos of your career and personal life if you’re only listening to what others have to say. If you tend to wake up and grab your phone or laptop right away, take some time instead to practice gratitude. Lawyers are especially prone to being hard on themselves, so include some positive affirmations as part of your practice to work toward improved mental health.
Check out this short meditation from DRI member Courtney B. Schulnick that encourages you to be kind – originally published on International Be Kind to Lawyers Day on April 12, 2022.
2. Step away from your desk to get some fresh air.
Working in an office, you might sit at a desk in a windowless room for hours at a time. If you get a chance between meetings or during your lunch break to step outside for some fresh air and sunlight, you can hit reset before your next task.
3. Get involved with a volunteer organization.
Helping others is rewarding and reenergizing, and there a million ways to get involved based on your interests. For defense attorneys and in-house counsel who are members of DRI, the DRI Foundation provides multiple volunteer and philanthropic opportunities throughout the year.
4. Read a book.
You likely spend most of your day building cases and reading dense text, but finding a good book to read for leisure allows your mind to relax. Refer to The New York Times Best Sellers list for what’s trending in fiction and nonfiction, or you can ask your peers for their favorites!
5. Update your calendar.
This may seem like a chore instead of a wellness tip, but knowing where you are at with your calendar will allow you to better manage your time and feel in control of your day. Once you see where you have some free time, you can also schedule in time to take a walk, listen to music, or relax in another way. It can be as simple as taking 30 minutes to do so today, and your future self will thank you.
6. Spend time with family and friends.
Your personal relationships help define who you are, and several studies have proven that positive social relationships have a positive effect on quality of life. Set up a video call with the friend you haven’t spoken to in a minute, take a trip to see your favorite cousin, or grab lunch with your mentor. It all helps you manage your stress.
Getting your blood pumping at least 20 minutes a day helps bring your body balance, and it can be as simple as taking a walk. Physical activity is a key pillar toward wellness, and you can choose to get active in a way that's enjoyable to you.
8. Avoid technology for one hour before bed.
If you can, step away from all screens for an hour before bed to help your body prepare for high-quality sleep. While any form of light may impact melatonin release, blue light in particular can keep you from feeling drowsy when it's time to rest. Your eyes, hormones, and mind will all benefit from slowly turning off before you get into bed. Make sure you're not only getting enough hours of sleep but elevating the quality of those hours, as well.
9. Separate your work and recreation spaces.
In hybrid or remote work situations, it can be difficult to separate work from recreation, leading to greater stress over time as you struggle to tune out professional responsibilities even when you’re off the clock. Try to define your work and play spaces and maintain that separation daily. This will help ensure you're maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
10. Eat a balanced diet.
Focus on eating whole foods when you can, complete with all the macronutrients and micronutrients your body requires to keep you running. Exercise, sleep, and diet are closely linked, so it is important to be consistent across these areas to manage your stress and perform at an optimal level. The CDC recommends five servings of fruits and vegetables a day as part of a balanced diet, as well as eight glasses of water. Try to minimize your consumption of processed foods.
Learn more about DRI’s wellness resources by visiting our Work Life Balance Resource Center.