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The life of a lawyer, especially a solo or small firm practitioner, is often stressful. Stress itself is not necessarily a bad thing. Our body’s reaction to stress actually helps us to meet the sudden demands and extra tasks that we face as busy lawyers. However, too much stress too often—chronic stress—takes its toll on our physical, mental and emotional well-being. That affects our personal lives and our ability to serve our clients. The trick is to eliminate some of the stressors in life, and build our resiliency for the stresses we cannot change. Try to incorporate some of these practical tips into your daily routine over the coming weeks in an effort to help reduce your stress—and add some quality of life into your busy life.
1. Give your office a stress-reducing makeover. Poor lighting can cause eyestrain and contribute to fatigue; another source of stress is tension and pain caused by bad chairs with poor support; an improperly positioned computer monitor and keyboard can strain neck, eyes and hands; noisy offices can inhibit concentration and add to frustration. If you are in charge, changing any or all of these can make for happier, healthier and more productive staff. Also, consider adding a watercooler in the office to promote increased consumption and better health.
2. Take a mini-vacation every afternoon. Take a five-minute break each afternoon to practice imagery—a popular relaxation technique. Imagery is sitting back and remembering a favorite event such as a vacation or a round of golf. Try to use all of your senses: hear the sound of the surf, smell the salt air, feel the sun on your skin, see the colors of the setting sun. Enjoy the moments again, then get back to work!
3. Enjoy the process, not just the outcome. Many of us live for certain moments or events. We ignore much of work and life between those special moments, causing us to miss much of life. And by so living, we become hurried and impatient trying to get to another special moment or highlight. Consciously focus on the process of what you do instead. Learn to enjoy each aspect in the process. Learn to enjoy life.
4. Re-create a favorite date or favorite family outing. Remember all the good times you’ve had with your family, spouse or significant other? Do it again and relive the good memories while creating new ones. You’ll have fun, and the people you love will thank you!
5. Plan a real vacation for enjoyment. Plan your time off from work to ensure that it really is quality time. Taking occasional time away from the office for relaxation is fine, but your body and mind need at least a week of vacation to clear out the accumulated stress. There is a huge relaxation benefit to simply planning a vacation, too. Browse travel review websites, look at the pictures and enjoy the images. Besides, better planning leads to better expectations, which leads to a more enjoyable vacation. But be sure to leave time in your vacation to do nothing but relax—rushing to do everything on vacation isn’t really a vacation!
Reid Trautz is a lawyer, author, speaker, and blogger on the issues of business process improvement, technology, legal ethics and effective practice management. He is co-author of “The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success: Essential Tips to Power Your Practice.”
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