When you’re surrounded by possibility, happy people, innovation, growth and the ability to make something happen at work, people tend to be in a better mood, have a lower perception of stress, and make better lifestyle choices.
On the other hand, imagine a job where you’re expected to be cynical, you’re constantly brought into situations that have already gone wrong, someone’s been hurt and/or you have to constantly look for all the problems that might happen. Even worse, what if you have to get right in the middle of multiple fights, arguments and threats?
If you’re a lawyer, the second scenario may be your reality; therefore, it’s no wonder you may experience high bouts of stress, boredom, cynicism, depression and poor lifestyle habits (such as reverting back to junk/comfort food) such as when you’re working 70 hour weeks on trial.
A lawyer’s lifestyle can be incredibly unhealthy, mentally and physically, and it has made many attorneys more prone to substance abuse and addiction. The substance abuse is often the legal liquid kind from Bourbon to Vodka and addictions can be anything sugar and coffee to working till you can’t keep your eyes open a minute longer.
Law is a service industry with expected levels of ass-kissing, unreasonable demands and solicited advice that is often ignored. Much of law is cleaning up (or trying to prevent) the messes others created. It’s also been shared that at a junior level, you’re often, just doing menial tasks that the client (i.e. in-house counsel) can’t be bothered to do themselves, which causes more resentment that can’t be expressed because this is just how it goes and “you were warned.” This cycle is a recipe for stress that needs to be stopped.
Realizing that “we are the choices we make” can drive your health is empowering. As a lawyer, you know what to expect as far as highs and lows, you can predict what “bad habits” you might slip back into when you’re on trial, living away from home for a month or while spending hours prepping for your case.
There are ways to incorporate new “habits” that still give the same comfort levels you need. In fact, these new habits will strengthen your mind and body to cope better, sleep more soundly, and then crave new foods, habits and vices.
Begin with something you know you’re supposed to do, but may not be doing regularly or efficiently.
Start with something as simple as sleep. Sleep is a learned behavior that can be retrained. Start by setting a cool temperature in your bedroom, unplug from all electronics an hour before bedtime, keep electronic distractions away from your bed and make your room as dark as possible (even the clock, cable and charging lights should not reflect light. These simple adjustments will make getting 7 hours of restful sleep possible. For sleep feedback, download the Sleep Cycle or Sleep Bot app on iPhone or Android and/or wear a Fitbit, Intel Basis or Apple watch to bed and track your progress.
Lawyers expect to spend years of their life under stress, due to the demanding expectations and time intensive lifestyle. It’s time to make changes in a non-obtrusive way to permanently reduce stress levels, by gradually altering the lifestyle behaviors that either lead to being sick or being healthy. I’d choose healthy, simple and fun every time. Wellness is much more than the absence of being sick.
You’ll be feeling less stressed, more acute and more productive while simultaneously increasing the time you have for yourself just by incorporating small daily behavior/choice shifts. When you “find” hours in the day and still get all of your work done (plus more), life can only get better.
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