A recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins University surveyed 100 different occupations. Of those 100 occupations, lawyers were the most likely group to be depressed. Other surveys found that lawyers are more likely to commit suicide than any other profession and that 15-20% of all lawyers in the United States struggle with alcoholism or some form of substance abuse. Many lawyers experience extreme stress and burnout during their careers. California Lawyers magazine found that, if given a chance, seven out of ten lawyers would change their profession. Did you know that Freedom Detox offers quality depression therapy in Charlotte, NC? Call us now to learn more.
These alarming statistics are probably not that surprising to those who are lawyers. Between the adversarial nature of the profession, the loss of control over their schedule, and the disruption of personal relationships, many lawyers struggle with feeling unhappy, trapped, and demoralized by their profession. The stigma surrounding mental illness in the legal community, like other professional communities, keeps many attorneys from seeking mental health care.
Addressing these negative feelings may be difficult for most lawyers. Here are some tips that can help you when you're feeling distressed:
- Maintain Balance: Neglecting your health and well-being can lead to making mistakes in your legal work as well as put you at a higher risk for professional burnout. In order to take care of your clients, you must take care of yourself.
- Delegate Responsibilities: Be familiar with and utilize the personal and professional resources you have available to you. If you feel yourself struggling with your mental health or substance use, reach out to the resources that can help you get back on track.
- Acknowledge the Stress: Practicing law is stressful, accepting this reality is important. Not succumbing to it is even more crucial.
- Use Your Strengths: No one is perfect. Capitalizing on your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses allows you to focus on what you are truly good at. Overextending yourself or agreeing to take on cases in an area of the law that is outside your expertise leads everyone involved in disappointment. Saying no and relying on your strengths is okay.
- Take Stress Management Seriously: Taking time to do things that relieve your stress is healthy and helps you maintain focus on your legal practice. Find ways to channel your energies a few times a week that don't involve the law. Go for a run, take a painting class, or take time to reconnect with friends and family.
- Set Priorities: Put your efforts and focus on things that are truly important to you. Saying no or taking back your time from things that aren't important to you is necessary.
- Be Realistic About Your Goals: Set your expectations and your goals based on what you have experienced and accomplished in your past. While it may take you a little longer to achieve goals because of your busy legal practice, working towards them consistently is more important than getting results quickly.
- Give Yourself Permission to Make Mistakes: Everyone makes mistakes. Understanding why you made a mistake and finding a way to prevent it from happening again is vital. Most mistakes teach us something about ourselves or the way we do things. Look for what you can learn rather than just focusing on the mistake.
- Be Aware of Your Emotions: If you find that you are stressed out all the time, use that information to help you balance your work life and personal life. Make changes to help you reach your equilibrium.
- Unplug Regularly: Schedule time away from your smartphone, computer, and other devices that lure you into working when you should be relaxing and avoiding the stress of work.
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