Thriving in the Face of Uncertainty: Mindfulness for Lawyers
The coronavirus pandemic has created rapid changes and uncertainty throughout business and legal environments across the entire world.
Everyone is currently facing an unprecedented situation and finding a “new normal” across multiple areas of their lives while wondering when or how things will go back to normal. It’s hard for us to grasp that life goes in spite of this global pandemic.
While our work, home, personal lives, and economy are constantly changing, one thing that is certain is that all of us are under more stress. With so much uncertainty in our future, it’s more important than ever to find ways to stay positive, resilient, and creative each day.
Lawyers under particular stress
It’s no secret that the legal industry is a stressful one. Lawyers face incredibly high-pressure work environments under normal circumstances – and today, that pressure is only increasing. From remote work arrangements to large contract review projects (force majeure clauses are suddenly incredibly relevant), lawyers are navigating unprecedented waters.
The difficulty of trying to keep up with our everyday tasks plus the added pressures of children home from school and other routine disruptions adds even more stress. Here are some tips as you adjust to a new routine:
- Work: With virtual and remote work becoming the norm these days, it’s important to create a space that is purely for work, put some boundaries in place for yourself, and remember to take breaks. As a veteran remote worker (10+ years and counting), I’ve had plenty of time to test and develop ways to set work boundaries. But many people are being thrown into a new remote work routine—with kids and spouses at home, pets running around, and stressed co-workers also struggling with a new work environment. If you are a novice in the remote work department and want to make sure you are doing your part to keep a professional edge to your meetings, here are some ideas that might help:
- a. Try to keep regular business hours.
- b. Don’t forget to take breaks.
- c. Take a few minutes prior to each call or email to think about the tone you want to set and the message you want to send.
- d. Check out the following tips for leading virtually. Harvard Business Review's "What it takes to run a great virtual meeting."
- Move: Movement is a vital part of each day. Exercise plays a key component of stress management and mental health.
- a. Challenge yourself to stay active and break a light to medium sweat each day. No need to go to 100% capacity right now if that doesn’t feel good to you.
- b. Take a brisk walk-outside, ride a bike, jump on your kid’s trampoline, play tag with your kids or dance with your dog.
- c. It’s also a great time to try out online yoga classes. Check out yogawithadriene.com and www.davidgarrigues.com. Or support a regional yogi such as Renegade Yoga in Knoxville— one of my personal go-to resources.
- a. Get a full eight hours of sleep each night and keep a regular bedtime/waketime schedule.
- b. Notice when your body is tired and take a rest (instead of reaching for that third cup of coffee or snack to push through).
- c. Try to meditate for a few minutes a day.
- a. Try out gentle yoga exercises.
- b. Eliminate news and social media intake except as necessary to know essentials – start with twice per day and refrain a couple hours before bedtime.
- c. There are many online resources you can try at home. My go-to is Insight Timer.
- a. Lead by example and set a calm tone for your family.
- b. It’s important to remember to be kind and considerate of others that might be prone to anxiety.
- c. Call family members or friends. Not to talk about the virus, but to tell them you love them and are looking forward to seeing them again soon. This will help you and your friends have a better mindset about our current world situation.
As we engineer our new daily lives and maybe our “new normal,” look for ways to support yourself, your family, and friends as we work together to find ways to beat this virus and thrive in the face of uncertainty.
Lawyer well-being week is May 4-8, 2020
I’m proud to be a participant in the first national Lawyer well-being week sponsored by the National Task Force on Lawyer well-being and the ABA. You can catch my webinar Healing with Breath, Mindset, and Diet—the science of stress and well-being on May 4, 2020.