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Thriving in the Face of Uncertainty: Mindfulness for Lawyers

Lee Holcomb 04 / 07 / 20

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:

  • Try to keep regular business hours.
  • Don’t forget to take breaks.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Take a brisk walk-outside, ride a bike, jump on your kid’s trampoline, play tag with your kids or dance with your dog.
  • 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.

Rest: While you’re at home, it’s a great time to get some deep sleep. Sleep is critical to your overall health and well-being. Unfortunately, many of us don’t make sleep a priority. that deep sleep can improve learning, mood, and energy levels; regulate hormones; slow the effects of aging; and boost the efficiency, success, and productivity of our businesses. Sleep also gives the immune system a chance to regroup (something vitally important in recent weeks). Here are some tips that have helped me over the years:

  • Get a full eight hours of sleep each night and keep a regular bedtime/waketime schedule.
  • Notice when your body is tired and take a rest (instead of reaching for that third cup of coffee or snack to push through).
  • Try to meditate for a few minutes a day.

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, lawyers are navigating unprecedented waters.

 

Mind: It’s crucial to stay calm, focused, and positive. Simply bringing awareness to your breathing and allowing it to slow down. By focusing on a gentle inhale through your nose and a longer exhale, you can help control your heart rate and calm your mind.

  • Try out gentle yoga exercises.
  • Eliminate news and social media intake except as necessary to know essentials – start with twice per day and refrain a couple hours before bedtime.
  • There are many online resources you can try at home. My go-to is Insight Timer.

Family: Spend time with your family. If there is a silver lining to this virus, it has to be the slowing of our pace of life. Take advantage of it. Try hanging out with your kids, laughing with your family, and think of creative ways to make memories.

  • Lead by example and set a calm tone for your family.
  • It’s important to remember to be kind and considerate of others that might be prone to anxiety.
  • 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.

Stay nimble in the face of a swiftly changing legal environment.

About the author

Lee Holcomb
Lee Holcomb

Lee is the Director of Operations for Enterprise Legal Solutions with Legility. She started her legal career in 1998 in Tennessee with Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan. After the birth of her first child, she began practicing yoga to help her stay fit and manage the stress of balancing work and family responsibilities. In 2006, her husband took an overseas position with the U.S. State Department. Lee was at first reluctant to leave her firm, but her desire to have a second child led her to take a giant step. On December 23, 2006, with two small children, she boarded a plane to Poland. Shortly after she arrived in Warsaw, Lee began planning her return to the legal workforce. This would ultimately take her to India, where she essentially started over in a part-time position with an international legal outsourcing provider. In addition to finding a new career, her time overseas allowed her to deepen her yoga practice. In 2011, she received her 200-hour certification to teach yoga from the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Shala in Chennai India. In 2017, she finished her first book, Lifestyle Lawyer. Sometimes, we all need to go against the grain and do things that make us happier, more well-rounded, and engaged. Her goal is to share this passion for wellness, health, yoga, and meditation with others.

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