Wherever lawyers and legal professionals are gathered, you will find stressful and challenging places to work. Fortunately, there is more awareness of wellness programs and solutions than ever before. Wellness can show up in a new product, tool, app, or practice.
Here are a few of my wellness solutions that are helping me manage stress.
I am loving my Teknion height adjustable desk. As I write this column, I am actually standing. It’s a great way to move around more during the day from the standard “sit in front of my computer” pose. I find that standing at my desk works my core and keeps me more mindful of my posture. If your budget doesn’t allow for a height adjustable desk, make your own. Stack some items on your desk and raise your keyboard or buy a less expensive height adjustable converter.
My Fitbit died in 2018, and I finally bought a new one a few weeks ago. I bought the Fitbit Charge 3 and I love it. This advanced fitness tracker does so much more than track my steps, it monitors heart rate, all day calorie burn, all day activity tracking, reminders to move, sleep tracking, touchscreen, and smartphone notifications. I find I move more during the day with the reminders set to get me out of my seat (or my standing position) every hour.
While I don’t feel I’ve mastered meditation, I am practicing much more frequently. I enjoy the Headspace App and I can set a reminder to mediate for a few minutes at an appointed time during the day. While I do this infrequently, it is a nice calm in the middle of a busy afternoon. With a little trial and error, I have found my best time to mediate is before bed. I use the Insight Timer App. Insight Timer has more free meditations than most other Apps I have tried. There are guided meditations, music, timed mediations, and courses. While there is a free trial on the home page of the App, simply scrolling down and tapping opens 24,000 free mediations that are designed for specific purposes such as dealing with anxiety, boosting your self-esteem, or improving your sleep.
It seems that everyone is Marie Kondo-ing their clutter, and I’m not immune to the challenge. In May, Lawyers Mutual moved offices, all the way across the parking lot from Weston II to Weston I. I love our new space. It is light filled and modern. The best part of the move was also the hardest part, the office purge. We had multiple purge parties this year as we continue to move towards being a paperless office. I don’t think Warren Savage will mind me sharing, but Warren and I love our paper. And our offices were full of it. On bookshelves, the desk, the table, the floor. We had paper everywhere. And I can’t speak for Warren, but I was not that person who could say, “I know where everything is.”
I actually knew where nothing was. I could never find anything. That fabulous manuscript I wanted to go back to and reference? No clue where to find it. That great article that I printed and hole punched and considered putting in a notebook? Nope, can’t find that either. The hotel registration I printed out just in case? Beats me.
The purge was painful. At one point, I had to stop looking at the paper (because I wanted it all) and just start tossing it in the blue recycle bins. And on my many trips to the bins, I most often found Warren standing there with his papers in hand, also trying to decide whether to let go. On one of my trips, Warren was standing there with his BARBRI study guides. Yes, you read that correctly, his BARBRI STUDY GUIDES. From 1996. The good news is that both Warren and I Kondo-d our space. He released the study guides, as I released tons of paper and clutter into the recycle bins, the trash cans, and the donate boxes.
I’m benefiting from less paper and it is directly related to my wellness. As I was forced to get my electronic files in good order and pare the paper down to the necessities, the resulting calm not only made my office look better, it made me feel better. My workspace is more of an oasis than a Bermuda Triangle and I feel calmer and more in control.
I’m a fan of time management tips, articles, and books. My writing coach, Daphne Gray-Grant, recently wrote about a process for establishing a shutdown ritual, her way of transitioning out of the workday. As she describes it, her shutdown routine focuses on tasks that require low energy, don’t need a lot of brainpower, help with organization, and allow her to feel ready to take a break from her work at the end of a busy day. Her ritual is written on a clipboard beside her keyboard and includes eight steps. It generally takes her 30 minutes at the end of her day. Her steps include things such as responding to her coaching class members, responding to social media, tracking product sales, and reviewing bank accounts.
My newly established shutdown ritual involves 4 steps: update my calendar, eliminate Post-It notes by doing the task or moving it to my calendar, update my “to-do” list and schedule my “3 most important things” for the following day. I plan my shutdown ritual for the last 30 minutes of my day. It allows me to leave the office feeling in control of my desk and knowing that when I walk in the next morning, I won’t start the day overwhelmed.
It should not be surprising, but these wellness solutions feel great. I hope you will take some time to determine what wellness solutions you can apply to your professional and personal life.