Lawyers aren’t immune from the mental-health implications of the COVID-19 crisis. As social distancing has continued, the isolating practice of remote work has become the new normal. So it’s critical that we, as lawyers, are mindful of our well-being and the well-being of our colleagues, family members, and friends.
Below are several strategies and resources that we recommend for establishing self-care and strengthening mental health not only during the COVD-19 crisis, but also in the months and years to come.
Take advantage of individual counseling and community support groups.
- The State Bar of Michigan’s Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program (LJAP) offers numerous resources and confidential services for lawyers, including a helpline at (800) 996-5522.
- LJAP’s Twitter Account identifies some additional resources, including, for example, listings of community support groups that meet virtually during the COVID-19 crisis.
- The Disaster Distress Helpline provides free, around-the-clock crisis counseling and support for coping with the mental and emotional consequences of the pandemic. The helpline number is (800) 985-5990.
- Lawyers may also start or join Peer Support Groups focused on the obstacles presented by legal practice during the COVID-19 crisis and more typical times.
Develop habits and practices that reduce anxiety and promote mental well-being.
Self-care habits and routines are key to supporting mental and physical health, especially in times of crisis or increased stress. We recommend the following habits and practices to reduce anxiety:
- Maintain a strong sleep schedule.
- Exercise regularly, even if it means simply taking a walk outside.
- Eat a well-balanced diet (and no, chocolate rabbits don’t count).
- Set aside time to relax and engage in the indoor hobbies you enjoy.
- Take advantage of Opportunities to Build Resilience, a trait that is crucial for personal and professional well-being.
- Cultivate social and community connections through technology such as Zoom.
For tips on how to manage anxiety, consider Science-Based Strategies to Cope with Coronavirus Anxiety.
Leverage technology to enhance well-being, self-care, and mental health.
Social media is a blessing and a curse in the COVID-19 environment. On the one hand, it can be hard to “disconnect” from the crisis because of how readily we can access social media. But, on the other hand, technological advances have created opportunities to promote mental health.
Below are some smartphone applications aimed at promoting mental health through practices such as mindfulness, meditation, self-reflection, and habit-setting (a number of which are offering free or reduced-cost services during the COVID-19 crisis):
- Aloe Bud
- Better Me
Take action to address and relieve business-related stress.
Financial security is a significant mental-health concern during the COVID-19 crisis. Be honest about the financial issues that you and your firm may be facing, and be proactive. For helpful information on managing your law practice, consult the State Bar’s Practice Management Resource Center or call the helpline at (800) 341-9715.
Finally, consider donating some of your time to pro-bono work. Giving back to the community is a great way to de-stress and make a difference during this crisis. The State Bar of Michigan has created a repository of pro-bono opportunities, which can be found here.