The first of the year is the time when many people set resolutions. Some of the most common include pledges of personal growth and stress management Lawyers deal with some of the highest stress levels compared to other professions. Stress is damaging for many reasons. One of the main reasons is that stress can cause several serious health concerns. Chronic stress can even shrink the brain’s prefrontal cortex, causing memory loss and memory retention issues. It’s common for people to become engaged in negative habits to deal with stress, including drinking, drugs, developing eating disorders, and other compulsory behaviors like sex addiction, shopping addiction, and gambling.
What are some more positive ways to deal with stress? In this article, you will learn four tips designed to help improve stress management for lawyers.
How Many Lawyers Report Being Stressed? A Look at the Numbers
Most lawyers have reported being stressed at work. Around 70% reported that the pandemic had increased their stress. Additionally, 44% of lawyers said they wouldn’t recommend this profession to others. Women are more likely to struggle with being stressed at work than men. This is a growing problem due to the high-stress work environment of being a lawyer. Lawyers are expected to be on top of their caseload while also expected to maintain professional empathy toward each client even if they find a client difficult or emotionally taxing (and let’s not forget providing appropriate supervision to their support staff). They work longer hours, must pay back law school debt, and must concern themselves with furthering their career or growing their practice.
With all of that piling up on the shoulders of an attorney, there is no wonder that being a lawyer is one of the top 30 most stressful jobs.
However, dealing with the high-stress work environment doesn’t have to lead you to overwhelm. Consider using these four tips on stress management for lawyers.
Self-Care for Lawyers: Prioritize You
Give yourself time for some lawyer self-care. Self-care looks different for everyone. Make time for a hobby you enjoy, meditation, exercise, time with family, and taking care of your mental health.
Eating healthy helps with handling stress. The best way to begin an eating pattern that may help you with your stress is by talking with a dietician or nutritionist about what you specifically need for your body. Fad diets are depriving, temporary, and not tailored to your personal needs. They will not help you. Talking with a nutritionist or dietitian can help ensure you get what you need to fuel up properly. Exercise helps combat cortisol levels, move your body, go for a walk, set up a home gym, or go to a public gym. You don’t have to start with deadlifts and running 15 miles a day. In fact, before starting any exercise routine, it is best to talk with your doctor to find out what might work best for you. It is okay only to start out walking even just a couple of times each week or riding a stationary (or actual) bicycle. Anything that gets you up and moving is acceptable.
Practice mindfulness. Meditating and practicing mindfulness have been shown to help lower stress levels. Disconnect for a little each day, even if it is just for five or ten minutes. It is completely normal if your thoughts wander. If you’re unsure how to get started, start with guided meditations. There are lots of easy ones to follow on YouTube and Spotify. Your emails can wait, there’s nothing truly interesting with that Facebook feed, and there is never good news that seems to be waiting for us online or off. Unplug. Let your mind rest for just a few minutes each day.
If you need to seek mental health help, there are resources available through your local bar. You can also ask for a recommendation from a friend or your primary doctor. There is no shame in asking for help with stress management.
Lawyer Vacation Time: Get Away from the Office
Whether you work from home or in a traditional office, you need to step away from the work setting from time to time. Your vacation time is essential. A vacation doesn’t need to be some elaborate destination somewhere unless that’s what you look forward to doing. A vacation can also be lounging on your couch in your pajamas, reading a book, or vegging out watching Netflix or Discovery Plus (we don’t judge!).
Plan this time, let your clients know that you will be out of the office, inform the court and opposing counsel so nothing is scheduled while you are out, and outsource areas that you need back-up on. If you are a solo lawyer, you need a network available for vacation, but it is a doable endeavor. There’s no reason why you cannot unplug and take a vacation to refresh.
Boundaries for the Stressed Lawyer: Protect Your Time (and Your Sanity)
Set boundaries for when you are available for work and when you are not available for work. And stick to them! While you are working, give yourself proper breaks. People are at their most optimal when they give their brains time to rest and refresh. You can implement productivity techniques (to use as a boundary to enforce breaks with yourself) like the Pomodoro method, or unplug every ninety minutes.
Lawyers tend to work 50 hours or more a week. These long, all-consuming hours tend to result in both overwhelm and burnout. You can’t function at your best if you are overworked, overwhelmed, and burned out.
Keep your personal life and work-life separate. Don’t answer that work email or work text at dinner. It will still be there in the morning or whenever you return to the office.
Many offices are returning to remote working once again as we continue to maneuver through the pandemic. Stressed lawyers reported during the initial shutdown that they felt isolated and more stressed and depressed. Lawyers also reported overworking or being expected to work more round the clock since their offices are home. If you are working from home, whether by choice or because your office has moved to a remote work model, it is even more crucial to implement these work boundaries so you do not become overwhelmed or burnout.
Another option to deal with stress at work for lawyers is automating.
Legal Automation: Stop Doing More Work Than Necessary
Tech for lawyers has come a long way to help with day-to-day tasks. Legal automation is an essential tool for lawyers because it cuts down on mundane tasks. The lawyer is free to focus their work-related time and energy where it matters most: their clients and handling the tasks that lawyers are licensed to perform. In this current age of lawyering, many tasks can be automated. You can automate your calendar to help you be more productive. You can automate legal tasks like client intake, contracts, payments, and more.
Law firm automation saves time, energy, and money. Automation can increase revenue for law offices as well.
If You’re Working on Reducing Stress, What Should Be Your First Step?
Although stress management for lawyers is a personal concept, you’re likely in need of some time to think about your first step. Schedule a vacation and evaluate the areas you need help with the most. Outsource where you need to outsource and automate in the areas you can automate.
LawDroid offers legal document automation and a customizable chatbot you can use to handle client intake and more. Let LawDroid be the first to greet your potential clients on your website. LawDroid is both convenient for you and your potential clients. Try LawDroid today with a 30-day free trial.
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