Our thoughts are with all those affected by the gas leaks and emergency evacuations in Merrimack Valley. Due to these events, the North Andover Support Group Meeting for Lawyers in Recovery scheduled for Sept. 14 has been postponed until the…
We all feel fluctuations in our moods (from elation to deep sadness). Some people feel this range of emotions to a lesser degree (find it hard to feel intense emotions) while others feel it to a greater degree (find it hard not to feel intense emotions). A common question we get is, “How can you tell the difference between a low mood and something more serious like depression?”.
In the life of a new associate at a medium or large law firm, it is not uncommon to sacrifice time with friends and family in favor of working long hours each day, working into the evening or on weekends at times when looming deadlines approach, and work with multiple superiors (partners and senior associates). In addition to the challenge of learning new aspects of the law, managing your time to complete the volume of work assigned to you, and trying to maintain your personal life in some fashion, the challenge of saying “no” becomes one of the most common sources of stress among new associates.
The stats are alarming which indicate that before entering law school a student is just as likely to have experienced depression as any other adult in the general population (which is about 7%). After one year of law school, 32% of law students experience depression. It keeps rising to 40% by the end of the third year. So what is it about law school, and in particular the first year of law school that is so stressful to law students? While there are many sources of stress in the first year of law school, two particular stressors stick out as significant for many students: the Imposter Syndrome and the Socratic Method.
I’m not the first to post this caution, which is found on a number of addiction oriented sites, but if you are new to looking for help for addictions, your web searches may lead you to something called “Narconon,” which is both a program and now a facility in Florida (land of a thousand rehabs).
It sounds a lot like Nar-Anon, doesn’t it, and also like Narcotics Anonymous. (NA is like AA for drugs; Nar-Anon, with no “c,” is for significant others of drug addicts.) But it’s neither of those.
There is only one of you in this world. Economic principles of supply and demand indicate that given your limited supply, you are priceless. Trust me, I’m a psychologist, I know these things. Therefore, I would never attempt to assign anyone a price, but I will take the non-controversial position that you are worth more than a Ferrari.
Much research has been conducted to examine the effects of meditation from reducing anxiety, increasing attention, and slowing down the aging process on your brain. In a nutshell, meditation can be an effective practice. And while meditation might not be recommended for everyone, the usefulness of meditation can be wide reaching. So, let’s assume that you have read a meta-analysis on the effectiveness of meditation programs and decided that meditation might be helpful to you in your management of anxiety, stress, attention, and so on. Now what?
Stress management is a big industry these days. Whether its relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, mindfulness or therapy, there are many options for how we can better manage our stress and anxiety in life. When lawyers come to talk with me about how to manage their anxiety and stress more effectively, they often expect to be told to practice some mindfulness or deep breathing technique (which are great by the way, so yes, please do them). But for some types of stress and anxiety, a different approach can be more effective, and more fun.
As high achieving professionals, lawyers are genuinely busy people. Too much to do and not enough time to do it in. But what if the busyness that most of us busy people face on a daily basis is not due to pursuing some professional or personal goal but instead a distraction from something else? What if we are busy but not productive? I often tell people that as human beings we are motivated by two basic drives: to pursue pleasure and to avoid pain. And avoiding pain is stronger. Given this fact, we can understand a lot about why we do what we do by understanding what we find painful, or uncomfortable, and how we typically respond to that discomfort.