When I transitioned from being a student to a practicing lawyer, my lifestyle dramatically changed overnight. The long hours and the stressful nature of my job made it imperative for me to prioritize my mental health. With urgent requests coming in from Clients at all hours of work, a lot of late nights, deliberation, trial & error to figure out how to take care of myself and manage my mental health while working as a lawyer.
Through this post, I am gonna share a few tips from my life, that significantly help my mental health management. None of these tips should substitute professional mental health advice.
1) Regain Control – At work and in life generally, a lot of things can happen which can cause a negative emotional response from us. In the context of work, the most common thing that impacts my mood is when I have to cancel my plan, work late or work over the weekends due to last-minute requests either from my clients or my colleagues. Unfortunately, this is not a rare occurrence for me especially when deals are live or things are moving very quickly. While this may be incredibly upsetting at times especially when I have something else planned for the day. To deal with such situations, I implement a five-minute rule which helps me get my emotions back on track as soon as possible. The rule is simple, you get full five minutes to be upset about any given situation, however, once those five minutes are up, you have to remind yourself of the three magic words – “Can’t change it”. Basically, you need to be aware of the fact that feeling miserable about something that you cannot control doesn’t really help the situation which sometimes is quite difficult when your logical mind is shut off and in the heat of the moment things are really stressful.
2) Keep Broad Perspectives – So what I mean here by this is that put efforts into not succumbing too much to tunnel vision and thinking that my professional life as a lawyer is too normalized in my mind. Normalizing the negative aspects of my lawyer’s life such as frequently working late or taking work calls in the middle of birthday dinners, has happened to me before. This particularly means that I have not been putting emphasis on resting and recovering mentally after I finish my work. This is because everyone around us these days is doing the same thing and we, therefore, downplay the impact it has on our mental health. On the flip side when I normalize the positive side of my work life, which I do like, I tend to undervalue those things in the long run and tend to forget how lucky I am to have them, especially when things get really busy and stressful at work and all I can focus on is the negative stuff. For instance, I am lucky to be part of a profession that allows flexibility in terms of where I work which allows me to work from home when needed as well as being in a profession that pays me quite decently for what I do.