Overwhelmed with the holidays, feeling nostalgic, or having a hard time coping with it all? Finding yourself riding unusual highs and/or lows after the election? Experiencing fallout from “spirited” Thanksgiving conversations? While some may think of this as “the most wonderful time of the year,” the truth is the bustle of the holiday season can be stressful for anyone, and for overachievers – such as many attorneys – this time of year can be especially difficult to manage. But in challenge also lies opportunity, the potential stress highlighted by the season may also be a great moment to consider strategies to enhance wellness too. If your New Year’s Resolutions include improving your mental well-being, here are some ideas to ponder.
I was recently shocked to find out just how many people swear by it. If you do not know how, there are a number of books (including downloadable regular and audiobooks) that will teach you. They even have audiobooks that promise to hypnotize you into improving your positive thinking abilities and decreasing anxiety, all while you are falling asleep. Do they work? Some are highly rated so it seems that for some people they do. If you are looking for a low effort solution, download a book, grab some headphones, and see what happens.
It is amazing how well volunteering can ground you when life seems to be spinning out of control. If you want to take on pro-bono cases, visit the YLD site at http://flayld.org/get-involved/pro-bono-information-opportunities/ or contact your local legal aid organization for more information. Otherwise, there is no shortage of non-legal opportunities to volunteer around the holidays, whether vets, children, animals, the hungry, the homeless, or another interest group inspires you. The YLD also has some community service ideas for you here: http://flayld.org/get-involved/community-service-projects/. Make the time and there is a strong likelihood you will get back in good feelings at least what you have given in effort, and you never know who you might encounter when getting involved with like-minded individuals – you could end up meeting your new best friend.
Exercise, Drink More Water, and Improve Your Diet
Sure you want to look good, but do not discount the mental health benefits of exercise and a proper diet… Just in case you have not thought enough about this already (now go grab another holiday cookie!).
Let’s be honest: no one wants to think they need help, and many lawyers are particularly attuned to believing there is some kind of stigma associated with asking for help because they wrongly think they should be able to handle it all on their own. (We are masters at persuasion and denial, after all.) But this kind of thinking is neither accurate nor healthy. The Florida Lawyers Assistance Program is a resource for law students, attorneys, judges and support personnel staffed by individuals who understand this perceived stigma and are experienced at working through it. And while the FLA Program is best known for assisting with alcohol or substance abuse issues, it is for much more than that. The FLA Program professionals are trained to assist with a wide range of mental health concerns such as depression (whether situational, periodic, or constant), anxiety, bipolar disorder, and others. The Program can also assist attorneys successfully navigate difficult transition periods in their lives (new jobs, divorce, children), or cope with the illness or loss of a loved one. Whatever the reason, the FLA Program is 100% confidential (read more about the steps taken to protect confidentiality here: http://fla-lap.org/), calling is free, and the person you speak to will be familiar with the unique issues that attorneys face. You may call either on behalf of yourself or on behalf of someone you care about, and you may remain anonymous if you prefer in either instance. If you do not live in Florida, there is a Lawyers Assistance Program in every state that provides roughly the same services, so Google it.
The stressors of life sometimes ebb more than they flow. When they do – as is common this time of year – do not be afraid to care for your mental well being much the same way you would prepare for a trial — be proactive, do your research, plan for the unknown, and do not be afraid to ask for help.