Practicing self-care is easier said than done when you are in a challenging profession such as law. While many consider self-care a luxury, it is actually a necessity, especially for those of us in the legal profession. Prioritizing self-care can be difficult, but is worth the commitment. Take the time to invest in developing a self-care plan now, periodically reassess, and modify as needed. YOU are worth the investment.
Creating Your Well-Being Toolkit
A simple way to develop a self-care plan is to use the six dimensions of well-being identified by the American Bar Association (ABA) National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being as a framework. Doing so will enhance your legal career, help avoid burn out, and better protect the clients we serve. Each and every day we have an opportunity to identify and develop the essential mindset and practices that will support us personally and professionally.
Physical. Strive for regular physical activity, proper diet and nutrition, sufficient sleep, and recovery; minimize the use of addictive substances. Seek help for physical health when needed.
Emotional. Recognize the importance of emotions. Develop the ability to identify and manage our own emotions to support mental health, achieve goals, and inform decision-making. Seek help for mental health when needed.
Social. Develop a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support network while also contributing to groups and communities.
Spiritual. Develop a sense of meaningfulness and purpose in all aspects of life. Being in nature helps with grounding.
Intellectual. Engage in continuous learning and the pursuit of creative or intellectually challenging activities that foster ongoing development; monitor cognitive wellness.
Occupational. Cultivate personal satisfaction, growth, and enrichment in work; financial stability.
Implementing Your Well-Being Toolkit
To begin instituting a self-care plan, try to incorporate at least one new activity or habit for each identified category. Start small. Look to the lowest hanging fruit. Set realistic, achievable goals. Remember, something is better than nothing. As lawyers, it may be helpful to consider self-care as being productive. It is giving your clients (and others) the best of you instead of what’s left of you.
When you get stuck, seek help. Every state has some form of lawyer assistance program available. Many have free counseling for a period, and some have recovery meetings just for lawyers. The point is that you are not alone.
Some may struggle with the physical well-being aspect. Seek help from nutritionists and/or physical fitness experts. Your doctor is a good first point of reference and should have resources to refer you too.
Another valuable resource are coaches and consultants. Coaches keep you on track and consultants help you find direction. Mentors are also a crucial part of being a lawyer. It has been recommended to have three in every practice area you do, including practice management if you are a firm owner. Talk with your colleagues about who they use to overcome challenges. Build a network of support, so that you are not alone with any challenges you may be facing.