It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time to discuss wellness. Today’s topic: tips on recognizing and responding to anxiety.
I’ll cut straight to the chase: I recommend The Legal Burnout Solution: How to Identify and Manage Attorney Anxiety. It’s by Cynthia Sharp and Rebecca Howlett and appears in the latest report from the ABA’s Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division.
I’ve mentioned Cynthia before. I first encountered her through her work with The Sharper Lawyer. Later, I heard nothing but rave reviews for a presentation Cynthia did for the Bennington County Bar Association. Finally, I was honored that Cynthia referenced me in a post she did for the ABA Journal on how best to respond to negative online reviews.
A few years ago, Cynthia and Becky Howlett started The Legal Burnout Solution. They’re doing good and important work. Their piece in the GPSolo report shares great strategies on identifying and managing stress. While I urge people to read the entire article, I’m going to highlight a paragraph that resonated with me.
I’ve often used this space to remind legal professionals to make time for interests outside the law. When Jennifer Emens-Butler was with the Vermont Bar Association, she did the same via her Pursuits of Happiness column in the VBA Journal. Well, now we can add Cynthia and Becky to the chorus — and we can introduce a new word to our lexicon! Here’s one of their tips to manage anxiety:
- “Have fun! On average, children laugh 300 times a day, whereas an adult generally laughs only 17 times per day. Often as attorneys, we over-prioritize our work and under-prioritize play, even to the point of ‘stresslaxing’ where we worry about what we ‘should be’ doing when we are trying to have fun. Consciously set aside time to do activities that bring you fulfillment and joy and make you laugh! Channel your inner child and do the things that brought you joy when you were younger—have a water balloon fight, go to an amusement park, play in the mud. Whatever the activity may be, give yourself permission to relax and play and just be in the moment. Laughter is medicine!”
They are so right! And I LOVE the term “stresslaxing.”
I’m terrible at practicing what I preach. At countless CLEs and in numerous blog posts, I’ve urged legal professionals to consider not just time away from work, but time that they’re fully away from work. For example, setting and honoring boundaries, or, making sure that vacation includes a vacation from devices. Alas, not only do I rarely take time off, when I do, I reflexively, or perhaps compulsively, respond to work matters that, in a vacuum, I know can wait until I’m back.
Why? Because I constantly worry that I should be available and responding. That’s stresslaxing. It’s not good and I know I’m not alone.
Instead, all of us should heed Cynthia and Becky’s advice:
When making time for something outside the law, fully commit to enjoying it! It is perfectly okay to do so and it is exactly what you are supposed to be doing when you’re there. Also, for you supervisors, strive to ensure that your employees know that it’s not only okay to be fully away, it’s healthy and it’s expected.
Previous Wellness Wednesday Posts
- It’s healthy for legal employers to value employees as people
- Meet David Rocchio: The Move to Movies
- Wrapping up Well-Being Week: my self-report of significant bread-making violations
- The 253rd legal ethics quiz: Emotional Well-Being & my Kentucky Derby picks
- Connect & Contribute
- I Made Bread
- Stay Strong
- With 40 Wellness tips, the ABA has at least one for everyone
- R.I.P. Charlie Kryst
- Aiming for Well-Being
- Wellness, Emotional Regulation, and the power of “What’s Important Now?”
- A lesson from my dad, Nandi, and The Foo Fighters: find & experience awe
- Ask the Question
- Wellness Wednesday: Set communication boundaries with clients & opposing counsel
- Yes, wellness includes the results of my first moot court competetion
- Wellness Wednesday: It’s okay to ask for help. Bar Assistance will listen and support you
- Wellness Wednesday: Set communication boundaries with clients and opposing counsel
- Wellness Wednesday: Compassion Fatigue
- Wellness Wednesday: A message from Justice Eaton
- Jessica Burke: “Well People Do”
- Wellness Wednesday: Schitt$ Creek and Paddles
- Wellness Wednesday: Be Kind to Lawyers
- Civility Matters. Especially Now.
- Coping with COVID-19 Related Stress & Anxiety
- Wellness Wednesday: Unplug
- Well-Being is an Aspect of Competence
- Wellness Wednesday: Survival Skills
- Wellness Wednesday: Make time for what (and who) matters
- Wellness Wednesday: Risk & Response
- Do summer your way
- Wellness Wednesday: Meet Alison, Shireen, Samantha, and Alison
- Reach Out, Check In
- Wellness Wednesday: Mentor Someone
- Wellness Wednesday: Joan Loring Wing
- Wellness Wednesday: Law Day & Pro Bono
- Get your sleep
- Take a Chance on Being Nice
- Attorney Wellness: We’ve Only Just Begun
- Be Kind to a Lawyer Today
- Be Nice to Someone Today
- Wellness v. Well-Being
- Wellness Wednesday: Meet Molly Gray
- Wellness Wednesday: Judge Garland & My Cousin Vinny
- Shakespeare, Pink Floyd and Wellness
- Wellness Wednesday: You are not an impostor
- Wellness Wednesday: “N O” is “O K”
- Wellness Wednesday: Stop it!
- Wellness Wednesday: Meet Jeff Messina
- Lawyers Helping Lawyers Part 2
- Lawyers Helping Lawyers: Keep it on the front burner
- Lawyer Well-Being: a call to action
- Anxiety, Stress & Work-Life Balance for Lawyers
- Make time for what matters
- Lawyer Wellness: resolve to find 6 minutes for yourself
- 108 is way too many
- Workplace Happiness
- Make Wellness a Habit
- A pledge by legal employers to focus on lawyer well-being
- Legal Ethics & the Water Cooler
- Wellness Wednesday: Island Vines
- Wellness Wednesday: on ponds, puffery and paltering
- Wellness Wednesday: Neil Diamond, the Lock Screen, and National Mental Health Day for Law Students