Well-Being Week in the Law is upon us. Well-Being has been a big topic of late, especially with the stress of the last couple of years living through a global pandemic. Law firms are hiring wellness consultants and coaches and subsidizing subscriptions to apps and programs like Calm.
Today, I’m sharing some quick tips you can implement to focus on increasing your feelings of well-being during your workday.
Identify and stick to your non-negotiables.
The law can be a demanding profession. If you’re working in a big firm or other high-pressure environment, it can be difficult to carve out time for yourself. Make it easier by focusing on your non-negotiables. What are the activities or hobbies that bring you the most amount of joy? Schedule these into your life and make time to protect them.
Try a little positive self-talk.
You may feel a little silly doing this, if you find yourself mired in negative thoughts or self-doubt, simply giving yourself a pep talk can really help turn it around. It can be short and sweet: “I’ve got this.” Or “I can do it.” If you struggle with positive self-talk, try keeping an email folder titled “kudos” where you store positive emails from colleagues or clients or supervisors. Write yourself emails when you do a great job at work and save it to that folder. Then read through those emails when you need a little inspiration.
Remember the Rule of 10s.
Is whatever stressing you out right now something that will matter to you in 10 minutes? 10 days? 10 months? 10 years? Often, the answer is no. Thinking about an issue in this way can help you maintain perspective when you start to catastrophize about a stressful situation at work.
Play pretend anthropologist.
Anthropologists study humans and our societies, past and present. To do so, they keep some emotional detachment from their subjects. When you’re dealing with a tough personality at work, try to do the same. Think about the actions of the person who is annoying or angering you as if you’re a scientific observer of their actions. You can even have a little fun by narrating their actions to yourself as if you’re creating a documentary about this special species of annoying human. Keep these thoughts to yourself of course—this exercise is intended to lighten your mood. Stay professional in your interactions.
Give yourself permission to take a real break.
We all procrastinate at work. Unfortunately, it often stresses us out even more, because we feel guilty about procrastinating and fall even more behind. If you’re struggling to stay motivated or feeling burnt out, give yourself permission to take a real break. Unplug from work for 30 minutes and take a walk. Plan and take a real vacation. And when you’re away, be away. Enjoy and savor your time outside of work.
Step away from the emails.
At times when you’re not working on a tight deadline or time sensitive project, take advantage of the lighter workload and stop checking email constantly. Don’t check emails periodically throughout the evening; instead, set your phone down and focus on your personal life. If you work in an office where some evening emails are always expected, set aside a 30-minute window to review and respond to them each evening. Grouping your time this way also makes it easier to bill.
Breathe in some fresh air.
A short walk outside is one of the quickest ways to refresh me. Breathing in some fresh air and taking in the world around me reminds me that whatever thorny issue I’m dealing with at work is a tiny blip in my life and a complete nonissue to the rest of the world.
Savor the little things.
Build little joys into your life. Maybe it’s a quick game of tug with your dog before work. Or going a few minutes out of your way to get a cup of coffee from your favorite local roaster. We spend so much time getting through the weekdays to enjoy the weekend that we lose lots of opportunities to little bits of joy in the daily grind.
Take a deep breath.
Even if you haven’t tried or didn’t like meditation, taking a few minutes to breathe in and out slowly, counting your breaths can help you mentally reset.
Remember Elle Wood’s wise words: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands!” Find an exercise you enjoy—it can be as simple as walking—and make time to fit it in at least once a week. More is better (the CDC suggests 150 minutes of moderate physical activity and 2 days of strength training per week), but aim for once a week to start building an exercise habit.