"Law is not a profession it is a feeling." – Alan Dershowitz
The job of an attorney requires much more than just the physical act of practicing law. In fact, there are countless aspects to maintaining and pursuing a successful career in this field. While many would agree that working for oneself allows one to maintain complete control over these factors, others tend to disagree. Regardless of their personal opinions on the subject, most would also agree that all attorneys experience high levels of stress during their careers, especially when they first begin practicing law. The average workday for lawyers consists of 12-16 hours depending on which state the attorney practices in as well as what type or specialty area he/she practices under such as litigation or corporate law.
The key to avoiding a mental and physical breakdown due to the stress of practicing law is to remain in control of all factors outside of your career. While this may be easier said than done, there are some tips that can help attorneys stay grounded and avoid 'burnout'.
Here are 5 ways for lawyers to avoid burnout:
1. Work efficiently & effectively.
This tip relates more to those who work for themselves or in a small firm setting as opposed to those working within larger firms where the workload is not as intense per person.
Always strive to take care of business efficiently instead of putting it off until later which will cause you much more stress down the road when you have an entire pileup of things to take care of.
This includes having all your files and documents organized so that you can find them quickly without going through piles of paper, emails, or hard copies in order to locate them.
2. Take frequent breaks from work/focus on a hobby/shopping/etc.
There are some days where work seems to be slowing down, causing you to put off taking care of business for the sake of finishing it up even though you know it can wait until tomorrow. However, if this is becoming a habit then you should remind yourself (daily) that there will always be more business and therefore more work to do at any given time; whether now, tomorrow, or next week. If trying to refocus does not help, you should take a short break from work. This will allow you to get your mind off of the task at hand and onto something else that will also refresh you mentally and physically.
For example: take a walk outside/shopping/cooking/clean around the house/etc.
3. Practice self-care & mental health management.
There are many things we can do for ourselves to improve our mental state which can be done in five minutes or less such as breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or a quick walk outside just to name a few. No matter what option one chooses, he/she needs to frequently (daily) practice it in order for it to become a habit which makes it easier and more effective when one needs it most.
4. Eat well & exercise daily/weekly.
Regardless of whether or not you work out, you should be eating a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and fish; avoid sugar (processed foods) as much as possible. You can also try working in some light exercises into each day without having to spend too much time on this task depending on your schedule which could include things such as walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, going for a walk after dinner, or just plain old house cleaning.
The more frequently one practices these tips will determine how effective they are at avoiding burnout during one's career but when used together often enough can even help you to become happier with yourself and the work you put into your career; allowing one to enjoy their job a lot more.
5. Enjoy life outside of work/spend quality time with family & friends.
The most important aspect to avoiding burnout is to have an enjoyable personal life which can be achieved by doing at least some of the above tips on a daily or weekly basis depending on how much time one has available in his/her schedule.
Life should never revolve around practicing law, and because it does not for many attorneys, they find themselves resentful towards their careers; making them more susceptible to physical as well as mental breakdowns which are both avoidable if they would simply take control of all factors besides their practice such as spending 5-10 minutes daily practicing something for their enjoyment. Enjoy your life now before it's too late to begin enjoying the things that matter most in life which are time spent with family & friends and a healthy body & mind; two of the most essential aspects to living a well-rounded, happy life.
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