Lawyers are great at taking care of others but tend to fall short in caring for themselves.
That fact is glaringly apparent from the ABA Report on Lawyer Well-Being, which found a profession in crisis and said “the current state of lawyers’ health cannot support a profession dedicated to client service and dependent on the public trust.”
Among the findings: alarmingly high rates of depression, substance abuse, suicide, anxiety, compassion fatigue and burnout.
The report proposes a broad plan of action ranging from in-house wellness training to beefed-up lawyer assistance programs.
But the first line of defense is self-care.
“Impairment in lawyers due to poor well-being can lead to counterproductive actions,” says a team of researchers from the University of Alabama in their study A Qualitative Examination of Self-Care on Lawyers. “This is especially problematic as their professional services often influence important matters in others’ lives. Based on the potential risks involved when lawyer well-being deteriorates, the need for self-care with these professionals is crucial.”
Treat Yourself Like a Billionaire
Lawyers tend to become so absorbed in clients, cases and deadlines that self-care slides out of sight. That’s a mistake, says Deep Patel, author of A Paperboy’s Fable: The 11 Principles of Success, named the #1 best business book in 2016 by Success Magazine.
“Entrepreneurs and business leaders who have built long-term, successful careers have learned this lesson (often the hard way),” Patel writes in Entrepreneur. “They know first-hand that even during the busiest of times, you have to carve out space to take care of yourself.”
It is inspiring to know that some of the busiest and highest-achieving people on the planet make self-care a priority. How they do it varies widely. Warren Buffet plays the ukulele. Former President Obama shoots hoops.
10 Self-Care Tips from the Pros
Here are some other examples of self-care in action.
- Carving out “me time” – Reshma Saujani (CEO of Girls Who Code). For a half-hour each day, she does anything she wants, with one stipulation: it can’t be related to work.
- Meditation and mindfulness – Oprah Winfrey. “Meditation is a heightened state of being that lets whatever you’re doing be your best life, from moment to astonishing moment,” she writes in her online magazine.
- Daily exercise – Richard Branson. He starts every morning with cycling, surfing or working out. He claims it doubles his productivity. “I seriously doubt that I would have been as successful in my career (and happy in my personal life), if I hadn’t always placed importance on my health and fitness,” he writes on his blog.
- Eating healthy – John Mackey (CEO of Whole Foods). He travels with his rice cooker and says the biggest obstacle to a healthier diet is breaking old, established habits.
- Learning to say no – Seth Godin. “The short run always seems urgent, and a moment where compromise feels appropriate,” he writes. “But in the long run, it's the good no’s that we remember.”
- Unplug from technology – Bill Gates. He reads for an hour before bed every night. Once a year he goes camping for a “think week” with nothing but books and solitude.
- Bake cupcakes – Marissa Mayer (former Yahoo CEO). She even keeps a spreadsheet of her delicious creations.
- Play games – Stephen Gillett (co-founder of Chronicle). He is a top-rated video gamer who says World of Warcraft is not only fun but teaches him valuable lessons in leadership.
- Get a good night’s sleep – Jeff Bezos. If he doesn’t get eight hours, he says he loses his mental edge the next day.
- Being in the moment – Arianna Huffington. She begins each morning with silence.
What about you? How do you practice self-care?
- ABA https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/images/abanews/ThePathToLawyerWellBeingReportFINAL.pdf
- Entrepreneur https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/326643
- The Jury Expert http://www.thejuryexpert.com/2014/11/a-qualitative-examination-of-self-care-in-lawyers/