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A Lawyer's Guide to Cultivating Wellness in the Workplace

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A Lawyer's Guide to Cultivating Wellness in the Workplace

Over the last three decades, numerous studies have documented the mental health crisis facing the legal profession. As lawyers, our sedentary lifestyles, poor eating habits, sleep deprivation and chronic stress are common culprits. Although many strides have been made through lawyer assistance initiatives and programs, lawyers and law firms must take actionable steps to improve their professional lives. Wellness s not a new concept but has gained recognition over the last several years as a means of transforming the work space. This course examines the core causes of distress among most lawyers and offers proven solutions to the mindsets that threaten our mental and physical health. Learn how nutrition. Neuroscience and natural therapies can improve concentration, confidence, and calmness to help you achieve optimal wellness and success.

Transcript

- Hi everyone, this is Dr. Patti McCartney. For those of you who are not familiar with me or my work, I am a board certified naturopathic doctor, an animal naturopathic doctor, a lawyer wellness coach, and a licensed Texas attorney. I am also the founder of Inspired Council, which is an E-wellness and micro coaching platform designed exclusively for the legal community. I wanna thank you for joining me today as we discuss A Lawyer's Guide to Cultivating Wellness in the Workplace. As a roadmap for our discussion today, I've included the learning objectives, which are understanding how we got here as a profession, recognizing the need for lawyer wellness, overcoming the stress habit, creating a culture of positive wellness. And lastly we're going to look at some self care concepts for improved wellness. How we got here, over the last three decades, numerous studies have taken place throughout the country, which have revealed that we are in fact, a profession facing a mental health crisis. In response to those findings, the National Task Force On Lawyer Wellbeing published the Path To Lawyer Wellbeing, practical recommendations for positive change. This was published in 2017. The report was commissioned by the ABA as a response to the overwhelming number of lawyers who were, and sadly, still are battling impairment issues. The result was a list of recommendations that were intended to improve the current legal climate to one that is more embracing of wellbeing. Despite these efforts, mental health and addiction continue to exist at crisis levels for the legal profession. This demands positive and profound change in order for us to have a sustainable profession into the future. According to the research, the overwhelming consensus regarding the sources of lawyer stress and anxiety pointed to client expectations, the long hours the majority of us keep, sleep deprivation and poor dietary habits, as well as a lack of regular exercise. Two common factors used to assess personal and environmental effects and whether they cultivate stress include one, cognitive reappraisal, which refers to the perception of a thought or situation that prompts a stressful reaction, and secondly, a coping response regarding how someone perceives their environment. We will delve into these a little bit more later in the presentation. Now let's consider the biology of stress. In 1974 medical doctor Hans Sawyer, a Hungarian chemist and endocrinologist first identified coined the term stress, first as a medical student, and then as a practicing physician. Dr Sawyer observed the fact that a majority of his patients who suffered from different diseases often displayed the same or similar signs and symptoms. This began a lifelong quest for Dr. Sawyer which eventually led him to the discovery of the stress theory. We now know that stress occurs when the brain perceives a threat and a stress response system is triggered. That system activates a flood of biological responses, which result in the release of adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormones. Now, I want you to note here that adrenaline is classified as both a hormone and a neurotransmitter and is called epinephrine when it acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and is referred to as adrenaline when it acts as a hormone in the blood. We all understand that a little bit of stress is good and perhaps even beneficial to your daily routine or your ability to function, however, chronic stress, when the brain remains in a perpetual fight or flight response can be detrimental. And it is estimated that lawyers spend approximately 70% of their time in a fight or flight state. Overcoming the stress habit. Sadly research has indicated that most of the habitual stress or chronic stress we suffer as lawyers actually began while we were in law school, thus by the time we get out and past the bar, begin practicing so much of that stress is elevated and exacerbated by the habitual nature of our body's response to it. So understanding how we can alter our response from one of habitual stress to one that is more measured can help us in preventing the more detrimental effects that stress can cause our overall health and ability to function. Speaking of our ability to function professionally, let's now turn to the professional responsibilities we are all so familiar with. Looking at the ABA model rules of professional conduct 1.1, which governs our obligation to provide competent representation to our clients. And that competent representation means we exhibit the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation, reasonably necessary in our representation. We know ABA model rule 1.3 governs our responsibility with the client lawyer relationship. ABA rule 1.16 A2 is also included because it reminds us of our responsibility to withdraw from representation if our physical or mental condition materially impairs the lawyer's ability to represent the client. Of course, there the key word is going to be materially. And so much of this is going to be self governed unless someone else in our profession or in our firm observes our behavior strain outside of those guidelines. Now let's look at the four A's of stress, which is a model of stress management designed by the Mayo Clinic. The first A stands for avoiding unnecessary stress. So if I asked you right now to think about what it is in your daily routine, that you find to be a stressor, what event is it that triggers a stress response in you? Can you identify it? If you're able to, go ahead and write it down right now, or type it on your smartphone, make some kind of note of that stress trigger and think, is there something you could change in your daily routine as a means of avoiding that stressor? The example given here is steps you can take to make a commute more enjoyable, or if the source of that stress is an individual, perhaps creating some form of physical separation or even a barrier. Now I do understand this isn't always possible for us as lawyers, especially if that person may be opposing counsel or a difficult client, or even in certain cases, a judge or some other individual. The goal is to just think about the sources of your daily stress and then analyze as to whether there are steps you can take to minimize those effects. The next A stands for alter. Here, the goal is to communicate clearly and let people know your expectations, which can make a world of difference in the stressful situation, for example, respectfully asking someone to alter the way they are treating you. Here, the key is to remember, to use the word I in phrasing statements, when addressing someone about how you feel. Or state your limitations in advance. The example given is I only have five minutes to talk. This does help frame the situation where someone understands how important your time is and how brevity should be the focus rather than trying to create a longer or more stressful situation with regard to time management, for example. The third A stands for Accept. Accepting the situation can ease much of the stress when avoiding and altering don't work. Accepting can involve talking to someone about how you're feeling, this can be calling a friend, having coffee with a relative, or even scheduling an appointment with a coach or a therapist, and forgiving yourself and others. It is an important element of accepting stressful situations. And moving on is much easier than sitting around and stressing about uncontrollable situations. I wanna make a couple points here with regard to talking to someone about how you're feeling. I know lawyers are very cognizant of the impact the public or their peers may have on them, and because of that, it makes it more difficult for us to reach out for help, or just to find somebody that we're comfortable in confiding with. But this is extremely important to help us let go of the situation and help process. Also with regard to forgiving yourself and others, we will learn in a little while about a concept called maladaptive perfectionism. But just know for now that it is extremely important that we learn to forgive ourselves and show self-compassion as part of our overall mental health regimen or protocol. The fourth A stands for adapting, changing your standards and expectation of stressful situations, which can help you better cope with stress. Again, on the perfectionism, the key here is it's fine to strive for perfectionism and we all do as lawyers, but not to the point that we lose perspective. And instead of making everything a point of perfectionism, give ourselves a little bit of a break. For example, choosing to cook dinners that are easier to prepare, but make your family just as happy. It doesn't have to be the perfect meal at the perfect time all the time. Not replaying stressful situations over and over in your head, this is called ruminating. And as lawyers we are trained to analyze, but the point when it becomes unhealthy is ruminating and having those thoughts play over and over like a recording that is looping in our heads. We need to be able to accept the circumstances, analyze our way through our cases, but not through our flaws, to the point to where we become obsessed with them. Then it hinders our ability to not just function in our jobs, but function in our everyday lives. I understand some of you may be saying "Easier said than done," but that's what this course is hoping to achieve is making you aware of the fact that there are simple tools we can incorporate. And then there are those of us who are dedicated to assisting you and all lawyers in working through the mental challenges that we face and achieving optimal wellness. Finally changing your focus to more positive aspects in your life. It's always easy to get caught up in the negative rather than focusing on the positive. This is where gratitude journals come in so handy. There are even apps that are available or just making a conscious effort to count your blessings. If you will focus on the positive aspects of every day, find three things to be grateful for, three things to appreciate in your life every morning, every evening, getting into that mindset will help you shift your attention from the negative situations and that weigh you down to help create more perspective. Now, those who know me know one of my favorite words in all of the English language is perspective because it says so much and it is so powerful for our lives. I truly believe our perspective shapes reality far more than reality shapes our perspective. By changing our perspective, we can ask ourselves if the stressor we're ruminating over now will even matter five years from now? Will it matter a year from now, even six months from now, will you remember what you are stressing over, what you are dwelling upon that is stealing your concentration and your ability to focus and just find the joy in the day? Again, creating a frame of the way you see a situation and shifting your perspective may make all the difference. I'm not saying your stressors are going to automatically disappear, but perspective can help you realize this isn't the most catastrophic event. A bad ruling isn't going to impact your life long term, a disagreement with a colleague or a difficult opposing attorney that you are dealing with isn't going to change your life. That shouldn't threaten your peace. It shouldn't make you feel like you are overwhelmed. It is easy to do that. These are all challenges that are unique to us as a profession. I once read of a surgeon who said the difference between what he does and what lawyers do is he doesn't have someone on the other end of the operating table trying to undo everything he does as a surgeon. Yet we, as lawyers do have that. We are in a combative and adversarial profession by nature. We wanna help people, but it is important and imperative that we be able to work through the stresses that challenge us on a daily basis and challenge our mental health enable for us to be able to continue our pursuits in helping others. So those are the goals of the four A's of stress, again, this model was not designed for attorneys, but it does have some helpful information that we can tweak and apply to ourselves. How stress impacts chronic illness. We all understand that stress can impact the way we feel, but many of us may not be aware of how it actually impacts our overall physical health. In fact one of the key principles of my practice and my business is how our physical health impacts our mental health and how our mental health impacts our physical health. I believe that connection is often overlooked in alopathic or conventional medicine, whether it's through therapy or through primary care medicine, but as a naturopathic doctor, I'm a part of a system that has a holistic approach and understands that as human beings, we function on all levels and all of our body lead systems, all of our organs work together. And so our physical and mental health are more closely related and aligned than we actually think. I include here a 2012 study that was conducted to determine the connection between stress and chronic disease. This was really the first time that a clear connection was established between chronic stress and a loss of the body's ability to mount an adequate inflammatory response, resulting in the promotion and progression of disease. Of course, if our body is more inflamed, it impacts our immune system, which is our key to being able to resist and overcome the sources of illness or disease that threaten our overall health. We've learned a lot about that going through the last couple of years with COVID, but understand that again, what many have suffered physically in turn impacted their mental health and what we have endured mentally through lockdowns and loss of loved ones, loss of income so forth has in many cases impacted our physical health. The study found that inflammation is controlled in part by cortisol, which as we've already discussed is a stress hormone. So again just know that the stress you're feeling, that your body is absorbing, is coming out in other forms if it's not managed and properly controlled. The anatomy of anxiety. Anxiety has the same physical and biological characteristics as stress. Anxiety is often confused with stress and many consider it to be the same, but it is not. The primary difference is that stress-induced neurotransmitters and hormones remain elevated when you're at the point of anxiety and that results in repetitive worry or thoughts that can cause panic attacks, again, this is ruminating on a situation, a case, an outcome, a conversation to the point that you obsess over it, that your thoughts build and build to the point of having a panic attack, that is a perfect example of anxiety. Anxiety can become clinically concerning or clinically significant when the feeling persists, even when the threat is gone, in other words, the person you had that argument with is gone or that hearing is over and yet you continue to dwell on it and play it and let it loop in your thoughts and become more and more anxious. However, in the case of anxiety, even when it's gone, you continue to dwell on it to the point that it impacts your day to day function and relationships. Anxiety can manifest itself in various disorders, such as the maladaptive perfectionism I mentioned earlier, which we will explore a little bit further in a moment. Now let's turn to some common anxiety symptoms. Think about your life and consider these psychological and physical symptoms and see if any of them apply to you or even someone you know. Psychological symptoms can include continuous worry over matters that are disproportionate to the effect of the event, this is not just looping the thoughts in your head, this is taking something that in the context of the parameters or the scheme of things is very small compared to the attention and the worry that you are allowing your mind to focus on or attribute to that situation. Also overthinking ways to address and resolve all possible worst case scenarios. This is challenging for lawyers because we're trained to think about all possible scenarios. We're trained to be able to analyze a situation from all aspects, but just know that this can also work against us when it comes to allowing our focus to dwell on the worst outcomes of any situation, to the point to where that is all we're focused on. I've read numerous studies that document the belief that lawyers are more successful based on their negative outlook or the more pessimistic they are, the more successful they are. But just think about that from the standpoint of your life as a whole, you don't wanna become so pessimistic that it interferes with all your personal relationships, with your friendships, with your family, with the way you view life in general, beyond just the practice of law. So again, even though we're trained as that, that is one of the more difficult and delicate balances that we need to strive for in order to maintain optimal wellness. Also perceiving that situations and events are threatening even when they are not. Again, this is where we're blowing things out of proportion and we're overanalyzing. And we're thinking that a situation is going to have a much greater impact than it could possibly have. And that is where it's beneficial to stand back, take a moment, or shift your focus to some other situation, some other thought, just to try and reframe if you will, or regulate the emotions that you're attributing to that situation. Next is if you find yourself having difficulty in coping with uncertainty, again, this may not apply as much to lawyers as others because we are trained in the ability to process and analyze. But at the same time, if we can't reach that logical conclusion and we anticipate uncertainty, that can become a greater source of angst and anxiety and stress upon us. Again, these are anxiety symptoms, not just stress, but to the point to where they've elevated. And struggling with concentration. If you find yourself having difficulty in being able to concentrate day to day, you may wanna think, is that based on a lack of sleep, is it based on just poor eating habits, or maybe you need to get out and get some fresh air. If that doesn't change your ability to concentrate, then you may want to explore if it's something a little bit deeper, and if so, that's where it may be beneficial to talk to somebody, whether it's somebody in your sphere of influence, or it is a professional in the form of a coach or some other form of wellness professional. Physical attributes may include fatigue or sleeplessness. Often we find ourselves sleep deprived due to our own actions in pushing ourselves harder. But if you're having trouble going to sleep, then think about what it is that's creating that obstacle for you to be able to get rest. Again, all of these are warning signs and they're worth exploring to see if there's changes you can make individually and if not, seeking out help. Trembling, twitching, is this just based on nerves before you get up and speak in a boardroom or meeting or a conference? Or before you use speak in a mediation or in a hearing? Or are you constantly finding yourself twitching and trembling? Nervousness or being easily startled, if all of a sudden everything is startling you or you find yourself continually nervous, think about that, if you're sweating profusely, even though it's not a temperature related situation, that's a sign of anxiety, and digestive upset, this could be to an extreme where it's impacting the way your body eliminates or the way your body processes or keeps food down and frequent irritability, we all have days, especially when we're sleep deprived, where we become a little bit more irritable or we're caught up in our work and we're in the zone, and we may be a little bit more easily irritated, but that's not what it's talking about here. If you find yourself having a short fuse, so to speak on a regular basis, that could also be a sign of anxiety. Neuroplasticity, if you haven't heard this term before, neuroplasticity describes the brain's ability to rebuild and rewire our brains at a cellular level. Neuroplasticity is a more recent discovery in the last few decades in the field of neuroscience. What neuroplasticity reveals is that our brains are much more flexible and able to adapt and adjust than was previously believed. As lawyers this allows us the ability to break free from the old thought patterns that so often occupy our brain to the point that many of us even succumb to it. One of the greatest challenges of mental health within our profession is the impact that our job duties has on us. And again, dating back to our days in law school. Allowing those preconceived views and perceptions to shape the way we respond to stress. On our outward appearance, and for those who know us, we may seem to be perfectly in control, but if we're unable to shift our focus from the more detrimental ways that we are perceiving our practices and our circumstances to those that are more positive, then we will continue on this cycle of this mental health crisis within our profession. So the key here is understanding that neuroplasticity allows us to reshape our thoughts in order to minimize stress, make better decisions, and yes, ultimately to focus more effectively. Exercises that can aid us in redirecting our neuro pathways as part of the neuroplasticity process and making our brains more flexible, include writing with the wrong hand, juggling, even playing chess. Those are all exercises that help stretch our brain. Usually anything that can help stretch and make our brains more functional or more flexible can make us more functional. There are numerous examples that are available online, and you can even contact me for additional examples and exercises. I do include those on my site and also in my coaching services that I offer to lawyers and firms. But I have some that I'm happy to share with you in the form of additional recommendations and worksheets. Now let's turn to a deeper look at maladaptive perfectionism. I've included here, a sad but poignant case study regarding an attorney named Gabriel McConnell, who was a bankruptcy lawyer and partner at Sidley Austin's Los Angeles office. On Sunday, October 14th, 2018, Gabe received an email. He then kissed his wife goodbye, got in his car, drove to his office, and in the parking garage there, pulled out his gun and committed suicide. Following his death, his wife, Joanna Lit, who is also an attorney learned about maladaptive perfectionism while searching for an answer of what could explain her husband's tragic behavior and devastating outcome. And she recognized many of the symptoms in her late husband's last month, but sadly, it was too late to help him. Maladaptive perfectionism, which again is a topic I explore in depth in another presentation but I do wanna address sufficiently here. Is an unhealthy perception of perfectionism. It lacks any self empathy or self-compassion. It's based on standards that are so high they're impossible to attain, or nearly impossible resulting in feelings of shame, self doubt in feelings of inadequacy, leading to extreme anxiety. In the case here, his wife Joanna wrote an article entitled "How Big Law Killed My Husband" in which she pours out her heart and explains that the couple met the first year of actually the first day of the first year of law school. How they shared every class together and set side by side, and Gabe graduated third in his class, how we excelled at everything he did, but couldn't seem to understand or appreciate that. The month prior to his suicide, Gabe had been struggling with a case involving Mattress Firm. He was preparing their bankruptcy filing, but there was something different about this case and the way it impacted him. And the way Gabe seemed to obsess over the details and getting everything right. One Sunday after he had worked all day, Joanna called Gabe at work to check on him. He expressed to her his concern about how he felt like his body was shutting down. Joanna told him she would come pick him up and they would go to the ER. She then explains how after he got in the car, as they were driving, he expressed to her that if he went to the ER, he felt like his career would be over. Not knowing what to do, Joanna then called a colleague to ask if she had noticed anything different, explaining that, explaining what was going on with Gabe. After not getting much information, Joanna drove him home and allowed Gabe to rest and make sure he was rehydrated before making the trip to Delaware to pursue the filing. What happened with Gabe occurred in the downward spiral of a month. Joanna goes on to explain various circumstances and her frustration in not knowing how to help him. She even asked him to consider quitting his job, that they could sell their beautiful home and move off, make changes, have a break, enjoy their lives, and Gabe expressed to her, he could never do that, he could not quit a case or leave a client behind. Sadly Joanna points out the poignant and yet ironic response of Gabe that he could not quit a client, but he could commit suicide rather than disappoint a client and those around him. She observes how he was committed and obsessed with his idea of being the perfect husband, the perfect partner, the perfect son, the perfect uncle. Every role in his life, he demanded perfectionism and would not allow himself any sense of compassion, any sense of understanding or forgiveness. So again I've included this here for purposes of understanding how perfectionism can help us strive to accomplish more to a certain degree. But when it becomes unhealthy to the point to where suicide is a better alternative, then withdrawing from a case or even leaving a firm, we definitely need to reach out and seek help. As in so many of these tragic cases where loved ones are left behind, the symptoms are observed far too late to be able to help. One of the benefits of workplace wellness within the legal profession is that we strive to make lawyers aware of these signs and these symptoms and the warnings that are there if we know how to interpret them, to be able to help one another. Joanna states in her article, that the world was a much better place with Gabe walking around in it, and I'm sure it was, and I'm sure it is for all of us. So again if you find yourself in this situation where you're striving for perfectionism beyond a point that is healthy to the point, it is overwhelming your life, please reach out, please seek help. Please know that there are those of us who are here, who are more than happy to help you. And if this doesn't apply to you but someone you know, again, encourage them to seek the help and reach out. Nobody wants to be in the same position Joanna was. So now that we've covered what maladaptive perfectionism is, let's look at confronting some cognitive distortions. According to Psychology Today, the term emotion regulation refers to the ability to exert control over one's own emotional state. The reason I'm using this to follow the maladaptive perfectionism and the reason I did include such a sad story is to help create an overall picture of how dramatic the results can be, and yet how significant our ability to confront those attitudes, those behaviors, those mindsets can also be. And that is the goal of this presentation is to let you know what we can do, what steps can be taken to try and avoid outcomes such as Gabe's. The point here is that we don't have to be slaves to our thoughts, our thoughts are shaping our behaviors, but our behaviors can also shape our thoughts. Reframing also known as cognitive reappraisal, which I discussed or referenced at the beginning of this presentation is a form of cognitive therapy, not a denial that a problem exists, but it provides a method by which you can recognize and confront the problem or situation in order to reframe it and transform the way we assess the problem and altering our response to the problem resulting in a positive rather than negative outcome and approach to problem solving. Now, I wanna look briefly at a discussion regarding food and prioritizing the foods that can power our brain. You may be wondering why I've included this in a CLE presentation, but that goes back to my earlier discussion and comments regarding the holistic approach, that natural health and naturopathic medicine, as well as lawyer coaching has with regard to mental wellness. And part of that includes an understanding of how the foods we eat impact our mental health. We all understand that processed food is unhealthy, but there is recent research that indicates how these dietary choices can actually impact our mental health. Since approximately 70% of the American diet constitutes ultraprocessed food. This is certainly something worth drawing attention to in order to aid us in making more positive choices. One solution I recommend is offering catered meals or bringing in a chef to prepare a meal, if not on a regular basis, on a periodic basis to offer a break from foods that are brought in, or that may be available in an nearby restaurant or fast food source. Another option is including brain boosting snacks, such as nuts and seeds. So what you may be depleting in one area or in one meal, you're making up in another. So whatever we can do, whatever ways we can tweak or enhance our diets by having better choices will improve our overall health, including our mental health. And what we have seen through research is by assisting people in making, the dietary choices to improve their mental health, they end up improving their overall health as well. So those who may be battling depression or anxiety who are also confronting a chronic illness will notice overall benefit across the board by improving the way they eat. Earlier I mentioned the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal, and I've included it here as one of the exercises in writing your thoughts down. This can be an individual or firm or office exercise. One of the ways that I writing can be incorporated aside from gratitude, journaling, or even depression journaling is through writing a book jacket for your life. Now this may sound a little bit more emotion based or creative based than most lawyers are used to, but consider your life as the story you wanna tell. Not just professionally, but personally as well. Now, picture that being a book. What do you want your book jacket to say? What do you want it to tell the world about you? From a workplace wellness standpoint, this exercise can help you gain focus and shift away from the daily grind, the demands of your work, which can so often cause you to lose sight of the fact that you are more than your job. You are more than the profession. To put this in further context, I want you to notice that Gabe chose to commit suicide in the parking garage of his work, as if to signal it was his work in his mind that had become so overwhelming and the measure of his life. That even though he and his wife were making plans to celebrate their 10th year wedding anniversary, approximately a month later, he was so lost in his perception of himself and his unrealistic expectation of perfectionism that he felt like he had no other alternative but to end his life and chose to do so in the parking garage where he worked. For some, the prospect of creating lists is also beneficial and they find tremendous satisfaction in checking off each item that is put on the list. This can be simple or small tasks that you perform every day, or it can be broader, more detailed lists of items that are unusual or unique to that particular day. The lists can also be as detailed or specific as you want, depending on how you respond to checking the items off. And if you are the type of person who enjoys making lists. For many, that is just too defining and too specific an activity. So it's just a question of whether this is something that you find enjoyable or works for you or not. Next let's turn to a discussion regarding the five whys exercise. This is an exercise primarily used in business that has been adopted by the Workplace Wellness Model for purposes of analyzing and increasing our problem solving skills. Specifically the five whys is a problem solving exercise that can aid in identifying and analyzing the root cause cognitive health threats, once properly identified, we are then able to identify and address the issue at its core. How it works. For lawyers, the process begins by writing down the problem or the stressors. Now this is an exercise that can be done either individually or corporately as a firm or a group. Then ask why the problem exists, building on that response, then keep asking why up to five times. Five is not a magic number. Sometimes it needs to involve more than five why questions, but the goal is to keep honing in and drilling down to further explore the root cause of the problem. This process helps identify the core stress trigger, allowing lawyers to address and resolve the problem. As lawyers, we are trained problem solvers. So I'm not suggesting that this is something we're not able to do every day in our work, but this is an exercise that helps us focus and hone our analytical skills in more specifically to reach a root cause stressor behind a problem. So that's something you may wanna try in practice, just pick a situation, a stress trigger, and then ask why is this so stressful? And then in response why whatever your response is, and keep asking that the why question and seeing where it leads you, we're very good at using that ability in our profession. We're not always so great in applying it to ourselves. So I think this works particularly well for lawyers because it does utilize tools that we already have in our toolbox as a profession. Now let's look at mental health first aid in the workplace. One of the best measures a lawyer, law firm or organization can offer is a cognitive care and mental first aid kit to all lawyers and support staff within the workplace. These can be as simple or comprehensive as desired. Notice that I did include support staff because when we're looking at programs that benefit lawyers, when we expand it to include the legal community, that should include support staff, even lawyer families, those who are impacted by our lifestyle. We put a lot of demands on our support staff, and oftentimes we overlook how it impacts them in a mental health or from a mental wellness perspective. So when I suggest offering first aid kits, it's not just to lawyers, but it's to lawyers, support staff, even if you have law student interns, because again, we know that many of these issues do develop at the time of law school for law students. And if we are able to address and resolve and retrain the brain at an earlier stage, then hopefully we will have less of a dramatic outcome further on. And we all understand that law students represent the future of our profession. So we definitely wanna invest as much as we can in their mental health and their wellbeing whenever possible. Now let's consider practicing contemplation. So no matter what your personal belief system is, whatever that encompasses, that belief system should be part of not just who you are, but how you practice. And what I mean by that is whether offered corporately or encouraged privately, practicing some form of contemplation should be encouraged in the workplace. Examples of this can include meditation, yoga classes, on an individual level that can include prayer, mindfulness, and again, even personal meditation. Incorporating companion animals. I say this in every course that I'm blessed to present, but because of my animal naturopathic doctorate, it's no surprise that I'm going to incorporate them into my presentations and into my workplace wellness programs. I believe animals give us far more than we are able to give them, and we represent the source of their complete love, their complete dependence, but also their complete comfort. So whenever we are able to draw on that ability of animals to comfort and strengthen us, we should do so. And that is no less than in the workplace. If you have animals at home and you have a stressful day and you start stroking your dog or cat, and you notice your blood pressure going down, that is a perfect example of the ways we benefit from utilizing animals in a mental health setting. Numerous studies have backed this up and have demonstrated the benefits and the attributes of companion animals and mental wellness. One study, which was conducted in 2012, examined how dogs at work affected perceptions of job satisfaction. And the study discovered that those with dogs tested significantly better in job satisfaction than those without dogs. Again, for people who are pet parents or pet guardians, this really comes as no surprise. Oftentimes we fail to consider how we can incorporate them in the workplace and work friendly or pet friendly work environments have proven to be incredibly successful as supported by this study. And there are numerous other examples we can point to. Due to these benefits, and increasing utilization of the role of workplace. Due to these benefits, companion animals are increasingly utilized in the role of workplace wellness. Horses, although not actually companion animals are also frequently being used. And this is in the context of a work retreat or a horseback riding exercise. Horses are incredibly therapeutic. Equine therapy has established its benefits and the evidence is overwhelming as far as the incorporation of horses when it comes to the whole spectrum of physical and mental wellness. So I definitely encourage firms to consider adding this on as a firm-wide activity, if you're not comfortable in horseback riding, just being around horses, petting them, stroking them, again, that interaction has proven to be very successful from a workplace wellness standpoint. There are actually some wellness spas and wellness retreats that have their services centered around the benefits of equine therapy and utilizing them for wellness. Okay, breaking up the day. I think this is one of the greatest challenges for lawyers, for all of us. We are all used to just zeroing in, focusing our attention and pushing ourselves through, on any given deadline and continuing on until the work is done. The only problem with that is that's not good for our overall health, it's not good for our mental wellness. Numerous studies have established the multitude of benefits in taking five, and this includes adding focus, greater engagement, elevated productivity levels, greater job satisfaction, and increased cognition. All of my wellness suggestions here are intended to be beneficial and available on an individual as well as on a firm basis. So even if your firm does not offer workplace wellness, considered availing yourself of the options either individually or as a firm. So if your firm does not offer workplace wellness options, that is one of the reasons why I created my platform to provide individual workplace wellness resources so that you are not dependent on your firm to make those available to you. Years ago, I heard a doctor say "In the end, we have to be our own best doctor." and in the end, we have to be our own best therapist too, to the extent that is possible, we need to put in place the resources and avail ourselves of the opportunities to promote wellness from a proactive possibility or from a proactive standpoint, whenever possible. Obviously there are some times where the situation or the challenge has become so great that we're no longer able to resolve them on our own. And that is definitely when we want to reach out for more specific help. Obviously the suggestions that I have here for micro breaks are just a few of those that are available to you. So I would encourage you to explore for yourself some additional thoughts or options, and of course, feel free to check out my website or even write to me, send me an eail, if you have additional questions with regard to other workplace wellness or stress relieving activities, one of the best and most enjoyable is simply savoring a cup of comfort. Simply stocking your kitchen or break room with a variety of organic herbal teas can have tremendous effect in offering a micro break option for de-stressing or even stimulating as the case may be. I've also included other workplace wellness ideas here for the sake of time, I won't go over all of them. I've included a slide regarding the value of setting goals. We know that goal setting is an incredibly successful way to get out of the current stress trigger and focusing on the end goal. As lawyers, we can get so focused that it's easy to lose sight of where we see ourselves a year from now, picturing ourselves there, imagining what that life will look like. And then striving toward that, but not allowing ourselves to get lost along the way where we would never be able to reach that goal. That is the most devastating thought imaginable is to become so focused on the daily routine and the challenges of the day that we lose sight of why we got in the profession to begin with, or what we ultimately wanna accomplish professionally and with our lives overall. Key takeaways here. Recognizing that the profession is in crisis and the status quo will no longer suffice. Stressful thoughts can be reworked into more positive thoughts. And contemplative practices should be encouraged individually as well as firm wide. Finally, it is critical that we prioritize self care for ourselves and as a firm, as well as a profession, as a whole. As a final word, I wanna say as a lawyer, as a naturopathic doctor, and a wellness coach, if I can do one thing to help fellow lawyers feel a little bit more satisfied in their work, a little bit happier in their lives, a little bit healthier.

Presenter(s)

PM
Patti McCartney
Attorney
DrPattiMcCartney.com

Course materials

Handout

Credit information

Jurisdiction
Credits
Available until
Status
Alabama
    Not Offered
    Alaska
    • 1.0 ethics
    October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Available
    Arizona
    • 1.0 professional responsibility
    October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Available
    Arkansas
    • 1.0 ethics
    October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Approved
    California
    • 1.0 competence issues
    October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Approved
    Colorado
      Not Offered
      Connecticut
      • 1.0 ethics
      October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Available
      Delaware
        Not Offered
        Florida
        • 1.0 mental illness awareness
        May 31, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Approved
        Georgia
        • 1.0 ethics
        Unavailable
        Guam
        • 1.0 ethics
        October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Available
        Hawaii
        • 1.0 ethics
        October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Approved
        Idaho
          Not Offered
          Illinois
          • 1.0 mental health/substance abuse
          October 23, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Approved
          Indiana
            Not Offered
            Iowa
              Not Offered
              Kansas
                Not Offered
                Kentucky
                  Not Offered
                  Louisiana
                    Not Offered
                    Maine
                      Not Offered
                      Minnesota
                        Not Offered
                        Mississippi
                          Not Offered
                          Missouri
                            Not Eligible
                            Montana
                              Not Offered
                              Nebraska
                                Not Offered
                                Nevada
                                • 1.0 aamh (substance abuse-addiction-mental health)
                                December 31, 2025 at 11:59PM HST Approved
                                New Hampshire
                                • 1.0 ethics
                                October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Available
                                New Jersey
                                • 1.0 general
                                October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Approved
                                New Mexico
                                  Not Offered
                                  New York
                                  • 1.0 ethics
                                  October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Available
                                  North Carolina
                                  • 1.0 ethics
                                  Unavailable
                                  North Dakota
                                  • 1.0 ethics
                                  October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Available
                                  Ohio
                                  • 1.0 professional conduct
                                  Unavailable
                                  Oklahoma
                                    Not Offered
                                    Oregon
                                      Not Offered
                                      Pennsylvania
                                        Not Offered
                                        Puerto Rico
                                          Not Offered
                                          Rhode Island
                                            Not Offered
                                            South Carolina
                                              Not Offered
                                              Tennessee
                                              • 1.1 ethics
                                              Unavailable
                                              Texas
                                              • 1.0 general
                                              Unavailable
                                              Utah
                                                Not Offered
                                                Vermont
                                                • 1.0 attorney wellness
                                                October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Approved
                                                Virginia
                                                  Not Offered
                                                  Virgin Islands
                                                  • 1.0 mental health/substance abuse
                                                  October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Available
                                                  Washington
                                                    Not Offered
                                                    West Virginia
                                                      Not Offered
                                                      Wisconsin
                                                        Not Offered
                                                        Wyoming
                                                          Not Offered
                                                          Credits
                                                            Available until
                                                            Status
                                                            Not Offered
                                                            Credits
                                                            • 1.0 ethics
                                                            Available until

                                                            October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                            Status
                                                            Available
                                                            Credits
                                                            • 1.0 professional responsibility
                                                            Available until

                                                            October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                            Status
                                                            Available
                                                            Credits
                                                            • 1.0 ethics
                                                            Available until

                                                            October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                            Status
                                                            Approved
                                                            Credits
                                                            • 1.0 competence issues
                                                            Available until

                                                            October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                            Status
                                                            Approved
                                                            Credits
                                                              Available until
                                                              Status
                                                              Not Offered
                                                              Credits
                                                              • 1.0 ethics
                                                              Available until

                                                              October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                              Status
                                                              Available
                                                              Credits
                                                                Available until
                                                                Status
                                                                Not Offered
                                                                Credits
                                                                • 1.0 mental illness awareness
                                                                Available until

                                                                May 31, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                Status
                                                                Approved
                                                                Credits
                                                                • 1.0 ethics
                                                                Available until
                                                                Status
                                                                Unavailable
                                                                Credits
                                                                • 1.0 ethics
                                                                Available until

                                                                October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                Status
                                                                Available
                                                                Credits
                                                                • 1.0 ethics
                                                                Available until

                                                                October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                Status
                                                                Approved
                                                                Credits
                                                                  Available until
                                                                  Status
                                                                  Not Offered
                                                                  Credits
                                                                  • 1.0 mental health/substance abuse
                                                                  Available until

                                                                  October 23, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                  Status
                                                                  Approved
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                                                                    Not Offered
                                                                    Credits
                                                                      Available until
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                                                                      Not Offered
                                                                      Credits
                                                                        Available until
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                                                                        Not Offered
                                                                        Credits
                                                                          Available until
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                                                                          Not Offered
                                                                          Credits
                                                                            Available until
                                                                            Status
                                                                            Not Offered
                                                                            Credits
                                                                              Available until
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                                                                              Not Offered
                                                                              Credits
                                                                                Available until
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                                                                                Not Offered
                                                                                Credits
                                                                                  Available until
                                                                                  Status
                                                                                  Not Offered
                                                                                  Credits
                                                                                    Available until
                                                                                    Status
                                                                                    Not Eligible
                                                                                    Credits
                                                                                      Available until
                                                                                      Status
                                                                                      Not Offered
                                                                                      Credits
                                                                                        Available until
                                                                                        Status
                                                                                        Not Offered
                                                                                        Credits
                                                                                        • 1.0 aamh (substance abuse-addiction-mental health)
                                                                                        Available until

                                                                                        December 31, 2025 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                        Status
                                                                                        Approved
                                                                                        Credits
                                                                                        • 1.0 ethics
                                                                                        Available until

                                                                                        October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                        Status
                                                                                        Available
                                                                                        Credits
                                                                                        • 1.0 general
                                                                                        Available until

                                                                                        October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                        Status
                                                                                        Approved
                                                                                        Credits
                                                                                          Available until
                                                                                          Status
                                                                                          Not Offered
                                                                                          Credits
                                                                                          • 1.0 ethics
                                                                                          Available until

                                                                                          October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                          Status
                                                                                          Available
                                                                                          Credits
                                                                                          • 1.0 ethics
                                                                                          Available until
                                                                                          Status
                                                                                          Unavailable
                                                                                          Credits
                                                                                          • 1.0 ethics
                                                                                          Available until

                                                                                          October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                          Status
                                                                                          Available
                                                                                          Credits
                                                                                          • 1.0 professional conduct
                                                                                          Available until
                                                                                          Status
                                                                                          Unavailable
                                                                                          Credits
                                                                                            Available until
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                                                                                            Not Offered
                                                                                            Credits
                                                                                              Available until
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                                                                                              Not Offered
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                                                                                                Available until
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                                                                                                Not Offered
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                                                                                                    Available until
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                                                                                                    Not Offered
                                                                                                    Credits
                                                                                                      Available until
                                                                                                      Status
                                                                                                      Not Offered
                                                                                                      Credits
                                                                                                      • 1.1 ethics
                                                                                                      Available until
                                                                                                      Status
                                                                                                      Unavailable
                                                                                                      Credits
                                                                                                      • 1.0 general
                                                                                                      Available until
                                                                                                      Status
                                                                                                      Unavailable
                                                                                                      Credits
                                                                                                        Available until
                                                                                                        Status
                                                                                                        Not Offered
                                                                                                        Credits
                                                                                                        • 1.0 attorney wellness
                                                                                                        Available until

                                                                                                        October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                                        Status
                                                                                                        Approved
                                                                                                        Credits
                                                                                                          Available until
                                                                                                          Status
                                                                                                          Not Offered
                                                                                                          Credits
                                                                                                          • 1.0 mental health/substance abuse
                                                                                                          Available until

                                                                                                          October 19, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                                          Status
                                                                                                          Available
                                                                                                          Credits
                                                                                                            Available until
                                                                                                            Status
                                                                                                            Not Offered
                                                                                                            Credits
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                                                                                                              Status
                                                                                                              Not Offered
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                                                                                                                Available until
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                                                                                                                Not Offered
                                                                                                                Credits
                                                                                                                  Available until
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                                                                                                                  Not Offered

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