Lawyers have a range of unique stress, especially at this time of year. Here’s how and why you should handle it this holiday season.
Are you excited about holiday celebrations one day and overwhelmed by them the next? Do inflated expectations interfere with your ability to appreciate your real experience?
Balancing the workload of a practicing lawyer over the holiday season is a pain.
Or maybe the source of your seasonal pain is being home for the holidays when you’ve been neglecting human relationships because of your workload – whether for the past month or decade.
“Pain is a kind of shortcut to mindfulness. It makes us suddenly aware of everything in the environment. It brutally draws us into a virtual sensory awareness of the world much like meditation.”
Now re-read that in an Australian accent because Brock Bastian is from Melbourne, and it’s fun. For the full experience, you can listen to Brock’s TEDx Talk in which he explains why we, as individuals and collectively, need to be braver about pain. Spoiler alert: To also feel joy.
Bringing that point home, avoiding pain only causes more pain.
“It is often people’s attempts at reducing or avoiding pain that blossom into negative habits. Whether that is using alcohol to reduce anxiety in social gatherings, putting up walls to protect yourself from feeling vulnerable, avoiding someone due to an unresolved conflict, or speaking aggressively in order to keep others at a distance as to reduce feeling vulnerable.”
Lucky for us, our colleague Dr. Shawn Healy outlined some tips to balance your instinct to avoid pain with a better ability to confront it in a post on the blog for our clinical services.
Once you’re mentally prepared to deal with pain, you need the right tools to work through it.
“When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage. And when you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience.”
Every lawyer should hear health psychologist Kelly McGonigal’s TED Talk, and remember that we have a few groups across our service areas to help with support in a few different formats. For lawyer-moms: SuperMom (monthly; in collaboration with the Women’s Bar Association). For solo (+ small practice) lawyers: Solo | Stress Connection (monthly; online). For recovering lawyers: Peer Support Group Meetings (various frequencies + locations across the state).
We shared a range of healthy responses to this season’s stress in our program at Mass Bar Association on December 12th. You can access it on demand here. (When you register, you will receive a link via email and your member profile will also contain a permanent link to the MBA On Demand version of the program.) You can listen to a useful preview of the stress-fighting material in this podcast.
But you don’t need to watch a full program to get started. Pick one or all five of these great options to improve your responses to stress from our clinical team, who regularly offers ways to improve how you handle stress on the clinical blog.
>> Make imperfect decisions to confront difficult ones. See this post.
>> Record both consolations and desolations to gain an objective perspective on your days. See this post.
>> Reflect on your regrets to motivate your care for others and living your values in real time. See this post.
>> Think beyond the zero-sum game to unlock new solutions to existing problems. See this post.
>> Practice mindfulness to reduce anxiety. See this post.
The weight of planning for growth in your career can multiply the stress of practicing law exponentially.
Your career development depends on your networks. If you aren’t networking strategically, you’re consistently missing opportunities to feel control over your professional growth and the benefits it brings. Find out what you need to do differently to see real traction from your networking efforts.
Like the holiday season generally, networking and social events can be a unique challenge when you’re trying to improve yourself in ways the crowd is not. Whether you’re sober or paleo, resisting gossip or overspending, get tips to maintain and build your resilience in a new post from our clinical team (written for sober lawyers and broadly helpful).
TIME MANAGEMENT + PRODUCTIVITY.
Responding to stress in healthy, proactive ways requires some of your limited and valuable time. But knowing that it’s worth the investment doesn’t add more hours to your day. So if you know you could manage your time better, start a healthy domino effect by prioritizing that.
Earlier this year, we published a 3-part series to help you reclaim your time. The first gives you the 5 steps you need to organize projects to increase productivity in your law practice. Then find out how you can manage others to increase your own productivity. And finally, stop fighting with chaos over your time by managing the many, many obstacles to time management.