A few years into your practice, you might be feeling a little burned out. You probably have been staffed on some doozies, have pulled at least a few all-nighters, and have seen cases and deals drag on for years at a time. Most people’s response to significant stress or burnout is to take a long vacation, somewhere remote with little to no Blackberry access.
But what about when you are at the end of your rope? Sometimes, like when you find yourself snapping at partners or inventing illnesses to “work from home,” taking a vacation is like putting a Band-Aid on burnout.
So how can you recharge? Try these healthy tips:
• Make self-care your first priority.
What is self-care? It is making time for yourself and taking steps to nurture yourself in a healthy way. Finish this sentence: “When I have time to myself, I will…” Maybe you will get more sleep, go to that yoga class you’ve been wanting to try, or get a massage. No matter what your method of taking care of yourself, schedule regular self-care time and make it happen.
• Pick a reasonable time to leave the office every day, and aim to leave then.
No, you will not always be able to leave at 7:00 pm on the dot, but take advantage of remote access as much as you can. If you plan to leave at a certain time every day—with the expectation that you can finish what you need to finish when you get home—your life will seem (and feel) more manageable.
• Cook more meals at home.
A life of takeout and restaurant dining is convenient, but always eating on the go can make you feel unsettled and stressed out. Cooking at home will help you unwind, allow you to understand and control the ingredients you put into your meals, and may help you feel more distant from the office. Cooking can also be a great creative outlet. Try cooking at least one more meal at home per week.
• Practice positivity.
Try this out for three weeks: take everything negative you would like to say (about a partner, about a client, about an assignment, about your lack of sleep, or about yourself) and turn it into something positive. If you can’t do it, then simply don’t say anything. You will slowly learn not only how to filter your negativity, but also how to transform it into something positive.
• Start making plans again.
Once you are a little more senior, you should have some degree of control over your schedule, and you can delegate work to junior associates. So start making plans again! Yes, it may be depressing to cancel a few events from time to time, but canceling plans on occasion is significantly less depressing than being afraid to make them in the first place.
• Make physical activity a daily habit.
Making physical activity a daily habit in your life increases your chances of staying active as you get older and can also boost your mood. Able to walk to work? Do it. Stressed out? Try yoga. Cramped in your office all day? Try running outside. Schedule at least ten minutes for some sort of physical activity each day, and stick to that schedule.
Practicing these simple and healthy tips can help you get your professional and personal life back into balance. But if things are really bad, and you are on the verge of leaving your firm or the law, find someone to talk to: a mentor, a partner, or someone in your firm designated to handle associate development. Giving a voice to your discontent and talking to someone who can help you will allow you to take back a little bit of control in your life.
Megan Grandinetti is a New York city-based attorney, health coach, and yoga teacher. Megan’s work as a health coach focuses on improving the health and wellness of busy professionals. Find out more about Megan (a.k.a. “Health Coach Meg”) by visiting www.healthcoachmegnyc.com or her Facebook page.