What do the legal profession and the holiday season have in common? They are both intensely demanding. The holiday season triggers the full range of human emotion. The holiday season often brings up memories -- for many both bad and…
October 10th is World Mental Health Day and Law Student Mental Health Day. The legal profession is uniquely challenging to mental health -- law students, lawyers, and judges need to know how to find the right help. Highlighting the importance…
Your first question might be whether there really is a problem. Start with the warning signs below and you can have our help from there. Our clinicians can help anyone -- a colleague, family member, or friend -- who is…
One of the most important things for good mental and emotional health is to feel as though you have some control in your life. We all want to feel like we can improve our lives, our relationships, and our careers by putting in some effort. If it seems that we have no control in our lives, helplessness and depression soon follow. Yet, even in the most difficult times in our lives, if we identify ways that we can enact control (even in a small amount), we can feel empowered and hopeful.
Every year I make the same resolution. My resolution is to not make any resolutions this year. And every year, I break my resolution simply by making it. This is my way of taking away the guilt or pressure of making lofty goals that will most likely be broken sometime in the near future. This is our human nature: we get excited about change, start to make a change, realize that change actually takes hard work, get discouraged by that requirement, start failing in our efforts, judge our progress against our idea of what it “should” look like, and then stop making progress entirely. This is why so many people buy gym memberships at the start of the year and then stop using them entirely in March. This is also why gyms do not expand their space due to the influx of new members at the beginning of the year. They know that the numbers will decrease rapidly.
The holiday season is not unique in terms of the various hot topic conversations that often come up between friends and family members. However, this season may provide more opportunity for such discussions given the nature of getting together with people you may not see on a regular basis and therefore having less of a track record with said people in terms of successfully discussing difficult topics without ending in a knock-down-drag-out brawl that embarrasses Aunt Shirley’s sensibilities. Popular topics that ruin family events include such classics as politics, world events, religion, sex, and of course the ever-controversial issue of whether a food can be considered a side dish if it has marshmallows on top. Don’t get me started.
When you ask people what the holiday season means to them, you will probably get as many answers as the people you asked. For some, the holiday season brings up memories (some good, some bad, some ugly, some they hope one day to repress) of years past that they either wish or fear could be repeated each year. It can be difficult to know what to expect and how to prepare. I find it easy to feel overwhelmed and distracted by the bombardment of messages about the holidays (you should feel happy, you should spend time with family, you should throw parties, you should buy lots of stuff, you should make resolutions, you should or shouldn’t eat lots of sweets, you should compete with your neighbor for the most electricity used to light the exterior of your dwelling, etc.). By this time in the season, I’m tempted to start dreaming of life on a deserted island.
Contrary to popular belief, forgiveness is not a feeling. Forgiveness is an action. Done well, forgiveness can be freeing and can allow the person to heal from a painful experience and become more resilient as a result. But there are a lot of misconceptions and fears that surround forgiveness, what it is, what it is not, and what the result might be.
No one has ever said on their deathbed that they wished they had spent more time at work. Yet many of us spend most of our adult lives acting as if that won’t be true of our own deathbed experience. Given how fast-paced life seems in the moment, we are tempted to be somewhat shortsighted. Career is important, you need to pay the bills, and you want to advance in your career and make a difference. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem arises all too often when we stop being able to distinguish between what is good for our career and what is good for our lives and the lives of others around us. David Brooks gave a brief TED talk on this topic.
The change in the season means many different things to different people. When the season changes from autumn to winter (at least in regions where there is distinct variation between seasons), some people are excited about the holidays, winter fashion, and outdoor winter activities (think of your friendly neighborhood skiers, snowboarders, Santa impersonators). For others, the change in season is met with dread (lower amounts of energy, mood fluctuations, pessimism). While many people are negatively impacted by the colder seasons, there is a percentage of individuals who are affected to a significant degree, those who meet the criteria for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD occurs when the change of season produces depressed mood, low energy, irritability, change in sleep patterns, change in appetite, diminished concentration, and low motivation.