It’s no secret that the practice of law is a stressful profession. Lawyers spend their days advocating for others. You have people relying on you to protect their assets, their families, and even their freedom. It all adds up to a lot of responsibility and stress.
That’s why it’s essential for attorneys to proactively take steps to destress and protect their mental health. I know your clients may look at you like a superhero, but you are a human and, left unchecked, stress can lead to mental and physical ailments.
The following are 10 essential tips to help you keep your stress in check:
Tip #1 – Delegate Duties
Even solo practices can generate more work than an attorney can handle without support. If you have already have support staff in place, trust them to handle those tasks that don’t require your specific attention. You shouldn’t be spending your time making copies, scheduling appointments, or creating invoices. Delegate these tasks to your support staff, so you can free up time within your day to handle more profitable tasks and also spend some time taking care of you.
Tip #2 – Spend Time with Family and Friends
It may surprise you to learn that your personal relationships are valuable stress-busting tools. Any mental health professional will tell you that successful personal and social relationships have a positive influence on the quality of life. Spend time with friends and family so you don’t forget what is truly important.
Take the time to laugh out loud with your college buddies. Find a friend or family member who allows you to unload the stresses of your job. These interactions and relationships are crucial to your mental health, so take the time to nurture them.
Tip #3 – Find a Good Calendaring System… And Actually Use It
If you are constantly walking around with a feeling that you are forgetting something, then you aren’t adequately using your calendaring system. No matter how hard you try, it is virtually impossible for you to keep up with every client meeting, court date, and filing deadlines in your head. Then, you try to throw important family dates on top of your already full memory.
This is a recipe for disaster and unnecessary stress. Find a calendaring system that is comprehensive and easy-to-use, so you can dump all of those dates and times in a safe place. Make sure it includes timely reminders and create a schedule for reviewing your calendar on a regular basis.
Tip #4 – There is No Shame in Seeking Help
Your clients come to you for your expertise when they need legal counsel. Why don’t you rely on the expertise of a mental health professional when you need mental health assistance? Remember, you are not a superhero and you cannot handle everything that comes your way alone.
A therapist or counselor can help you sort through your thoughts and feelings and provide you with valuable coping tools. Don’t ignore signs of anxiety or depression. Getting appropriate help is extremely important. You can’t adequately be there for anyone in your life if your mental health is in disarray.
Tip #5 – Technology is Your Friend
You have the benefit of practicing law in the midst of a legal tech explosion. The marketplace is filled with devices and software options to make your professional and personal life easier. From the law office management systems that keep your law office running efficiently to meditation apps that keep you calm, there is so much out there to assist you. I know many legal professionals shy away from tech innovations, but don’t be among that group. Find ways that technology can make your law firm run more efficiently and profitably, which can translate to less stress for you.
Tip #6 – Pay Attention to Your Physical Health
Your physical and mental health are undeniably intertwined. By making the effort to take care of your body, you can also benefit your mental well-being. For one, you should strive for some form of physical exercise most days of the week. Even if you aren’t a gym person, take a brisk walk around your community. Dance classes, hiking, or sports teams all work as well. The endorphins produced during physical activity help reduce the stress that legal work can bring.
You also need to pay attention to what you’re putting in your body. A well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables can keep you feeling good physically while promoting clarity and thoughtfulness.
Tip #7 – Practice Time Management
I know it’s a struggle when you have a hundred tasks to complete within the span of one workday, but effective time management can help you get through it all without pulling out every hair on your head. First, take the time to plan your day before things get too crazy.
Each morning, make a list of everything that needs to get done and develop a strategy to make it happen. Prioritize your tasks, so you can handle the most important ones first. But remember, it’s okay if you cannot get to everything on your list. Things pop up during the day, but when you practice time management, you will see that you can still get more accomplished.
Tip #8 – Write it Down
When you’re laying in bed awake at night with your mind racing through all the things you don’t want to forget, grab a pen and do a brain dump. Just write it all down. It will clear your mind and provide you with a written reminder for tomorrow.
Tip #9 – Acknowledge How Far You’ve Come
Many attorneys are so driven towards the next case win or professional success, that they forget to reflect on how far they’ve already come. It’s extremely important to acknowledge your accomplishments. By considering what you’ve done, you become empowered to handle the challenges that lie ahead. So, take a minute to pat yourself on the back. You deserve it.
Don’t let stress end your career… or even worse… your life. Take the time and effort to take care of yourself, so you can best deal with the stresses of the legal profession.
About Erika Winston:
Erika Winston is a freelance writer with a passion for law. Through her business, Personal Touch Edits, she helps legal professionals deliver effective written messages. Erika is a regular contributor to TimeSolv and a variety of other publications.