Judge Primeaux offered some great practice advice in this recent post on his blog. The topic is dealing with stress. The post opens:
Stress takes its toll in the form of burnout, substance abuse, failing relationships, depression, and even suicide.
Judge Primeaux offers seven tips for dealing with stress in the legal profession. In addition to his list, here are two suggestions from me.
First, treat maintenance of your physical and mental health as part of your job.
Judge Primeaux once coined the most accurate one word description of practicing law that I’ve ever heard: corrosive.
It’s corrosive mentally and physically. Don’t apologize for coming in late or leaving early so you can get a workout in. You are not going to be doing anyone any good if your body breaks down.
And most of us aren’t in our 20’s anymore. Getting our bodies in shape is not a couple of week project. It takes commitment.
On the mental side, you have to find a way to check out mentally. It’s often difficult. You can wake up and realize that you’ve worked every single day for 2-3 months. Or, as in my case as I write this, haven’t taken a vacation for at least a year. That’s not ideal.
Like working out, vacations should be considered part of our job. Performance will suffer if you never check out mentally.
Yoga and meditation are also both worth considering. I’ve tried yoga lately and have found it to be great for reducing anxiety.
Second, and this one is hitting close to home for me right now, family first. Yes, there are times when you have to miss a family event due to work. But in general, if you want to have a happy life, you have to prioritize your important relationships over your legal career.
By “family” I don’t mean just your immediate family. I’m also talking about significant others, close friends–anyone who is important to you. Prioritize your career and/or making money over your personal relationships and you will wind up miserable. No matter how big your bank account is.