Regular practice of proper self-care is critical, but rarely taught in Law-schools. Few parents instruct children to take ‘Mental Health Days’ off from school starting from the third grade. Growing up in homes that emphasize mental health maintenance are often offset by prevailing pressures from our cultural system to be competitively productive, at our own expense. As simple as self-care sounds, we must focus on simple things that are often ignored: As part of self-care, sleep sufficient hours and focus on low and slow breathing.
Eat good stuff for fueling your system and not adding sludge. Exercise routinely or practice Yogic Mindfulness, Meditation, and Relaxation Techniques. Organize and manage Time through cognitive restructuring and de-escalate conflicts using active listening techniques. Pursue joy, passion, and curiosity; brainstorm the top five activities you once loved or have wanted to try and pick one and commit to it by scheduling one hour each week for it; call or meet a friend and share information about your activity
Utilizing Social Support Systems
Actively seeking friends and giving up isolation is good for you, ask trusted friends about their views, share your queries and concerns, and if required, access professional mental health care. Recognize what is not self-care. A recent article by a psychiatrist describes a patient who practiced self-isolation under the guise of small scale “self-care” efforts and encouraged its readers to not let self-care become an obsession. Social support systems with healthy boundaries are a critical element of proper self-care which feels relaxing but can also feel tough. Now that the value of self-care is understood and also well established, companies regularly offer relaxing, short-term, self-care solutions for profit.
Their marketing targets our innate potential for insecurity for which real self-care would render us resilient. Quick relief in the form of products, may often appear to be more effective than more sustainable forms of self-care offering steadier and slower returns. The new-aged ‘retail buying therapy’ is probably the polar opposite of actual therapy. While companies find it very profitable to market alcohol as a short-term solution to early motherhood stresses, it actually exacerbates problems. The struggle to strike a balance between quick self-care attempts with longer-term investments is best captured by the quote that says that true self-care cannot be used to escape from one’s life, but rather creates a life style where we don’t feel the need to escape, in the first place.
Use Professional Support
Professional support can ensure proper self-care practices. When engaged in healthy practices ( like Helen Bukulmez who created a Hiking Lawyers group and shares how hiking helps heal the legal brain). Yet the rudimentary self-care practices are often critical and the most ignored. Sufficient sleep is easily the most fundamental element of self-care and an ultimate form of relaxation, and yet is totally neglected? Sacrificing sleep is no reliable symptom of work addiction but where is the support to hold you accountable at times when friends and family just don’t? Professional peer support can be a very effective social connection for self-care. When supported by positive social circles outside the legal profession, office peers relate to similar issues and challenges, whether by putting client needs before your own due to zealous advocacy, or by exposure to vicarious trauma in certain legal practice areas. Check out the support groups organized for the legal community.