Preventing Stress: Lawyers Share How They Stay Mentally Healthy
In this week’s series on depression and substance abuse in the legal world, we’ve covered various angles of these issues. But now let’s hear from the lawyers themselves on how they try to handle stress in this notoriously stressful industry:
“The practice of law is extremely stressful. Most days carry great intensity which makes is easy to lose perspective. To combat this, I find two general rules helpful: First, take regular vacations in which you really get away from the office—including emails and texts. It is necessary to cleanse your mind and focus on something other than work. This will necessarily make you a better lawyer. Second, I find it important to avoid going into the office on weekends. Even if I have work to do, I prefer to do it at home. I know the work week will be laborious, so it makes a huge difference to unwind and rest over the weekend.” —Marc Lamber, a personal injury attorney in Phoenix
“A very smart friend of mine once said, ‘You better enjoy yourself during your time here. This is the vacation. When you die, you go back to work.’ Yes, it’s a little twisted, but I think it’s sage advice.” —Paul Menes, who practices transactional entertainment and digital media law for clients throughout the world
“Keep it all in perspective and remember that time with family and friends is more valuable than money or things.” —Jesse Klaproth, a lawyer in Philadelphia whose firm focuses on employment law, whistleblower law, and consumer fraud class actions.
“Aside from yoga and pilates, I make sure to recognize every day that being chosen as a lawyer by my clients is a privilege, not a burden. In a world with so much suffering, I am able to use my skill set to make dreams come true for families and businessmen alike.” —Renata Castro, an immigration attorney in Pompano Beach, Florida.
“I have been lucky to not let the stress and depression get to me. But, if I feel it, I try to breath and turn my focus to all of the good that is getting done. Then I go back to the old sports analogies: If you are open, take the shot. If you miss, hustle back on defense and when you get the ball back don’t be afraid to take the open shot again the next time.” —Tor Hoerman, a personal injury lawyer specializing in mass tort in Edwardsville, IL, St. Louis, MO, and Chicago, IL.
“I spend time with my children who are still very young and keep things very simple: Swinging on the playset is magical. Watching a butterfly is a showstopper. Laughing over silly faces is natural. They remind me daily that the important things happen around me every day and to participate in them fully.” —Francine E. Love, who practices business, arts and employment law in Uniondale, New York.
“Run. Exercise. Lift Weights. Rinse. Repeat.” —Andrew R. Shedlock, who practices securities litigation and investment fraud in Minneapolis
“I am a big believer in taking mental breaks. I absolutely do not work on Sundays. I also limit my work on Saturdays and will take a break over the holidays. And when my clients try to raise a fuss about it, I quickly ask them about their holiday break. Their expectations cannot lead me or I will be unhealthy. There is nothing wrong with catching up with a TV show or even cleaning my house without thinking about work. There has to be moderation in all things.” —Pamela Williams Kelly, whose firm focuses on legal issues in family, immigration, entertainment/fashion, and probate/wills in Memphis, Tennessee
“I was a professional athlete prior to law school, so for me physical activity is an absolute must. I happen to live next to one of the top mixed martial arts facilities around, so I try to get in there as much as possible after work. There is nothing better then wrapping up your hands and hitting the gym for a boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Muay Thai session after a long day. Also, I intermittent fast until lunch time with just black coffee and try to lay off as many carbs as possible. My energy levels have spiked dramatically since I started doing this.” —David DiNatale, who practices real estate and corporate law in South Florida
“Recently, I began daily meditation, affirmations, and visualizations. I also spend more time reading for pleasure and writing in a journal (recommended in a book I read called The Morning Miracle.) All of those activities help me start my day feeling calm and being focused and productive. I also recommend another book I read recently called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less about staying focused on what’s really important in all areas of your life and ignoring the rest.” —Tina Willis, a personal injury attorney in Orlando
*This is the last part of our five-part series on mental health, substance abuse, and wellness in the legal industry. See the rest of the series here.