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Glossed Over: Uncovering the Mental Distress of Women Lawyers

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Glossed Over: Uncovering the Mental Distress of Women Lawyers

Glossed Over: Uncovering the Mental Distress of Women Lawyers

According to the ABA, women make up approximately 37% of the legal profession. Yet, research indicates that female lawyers are much more likely to suffer from mental distress and contemplate leaving the profession. Struggles with earning less, decreased advancement opportunities and pressure to choose between family and career, are only a few root causes behind the mental health crisis women lawyers are experiencing. This unique course offers neuroscience nutrition and natural health strategies designed to help women thrive. Learn emotion regulating tools that can help us maximize our mindset for improved outcomes and discover self-care concepts every woman can incorporate for professional wellness.

Presenters

Patti McCartney
Attorney
DrPattiMcCartney.com

Transcript

- Hi everyone, this is Dr. Patti McCartney and I wanna thank you for joining me today as we discuss glossed over addressing mental distress among women lawyers. 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 cognitive behavior and lawyer wellness coach, and a licensed Texas attorney. I am also the founder of Inspired Counsel, which is an E-wellness and micro coaching platform for the legal community. I wanna begin with a quote that says, "Treasure your wellbeing as your greatest wealth." We all understand that life is about priorities and as lawyers we can so often put our work as our priority, but we really need to make a point of focusing on our wellbeing. Or as some of us may be more accustomed to hearing the term self care. I know that's a term lawyers don't usually apply to themselves, but hopefully at the end of this presentation you will see a greater need to do so. Today's learning objectives include learning how mental distress affects women differently, understanding the difference between women and men's brains, discovering how to distinguish between emotional and mental wellness and how to master both. Learning the new nutritional needs for women's brain health and discovering cognitive behavior tools to help you chart the course toward your ultimate success. I wanna start off by addressing what we are all familiar with, and that is the ABA model rules, specifically the rule regarding conduct, which is rule 1.1. We all understand our obligation to provide competent representation on behalf of our clients, and that competent representation means that we exhibit the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for our client's representation. A healthy mind is a critical component in our ability to function effectively and successfully perform our professional responsibilities. How practicing law affects women? In 2020, a groundbreaking study was conducted between, I believe the California Lawyers Association and the DC Bar. Looking at the disparities between the genders or as the study indicated, gender specific differences among male and female lawyers. According to the research women reported higher rates of overcommitment, higher rates of work, family conflict than men. Women also saw fewer opportunities for promotion. 25% of the women surveyed admitted that they were considering leaving the legal profession due to mental health issues, stress and burnout. More than 20% admit to moderate or severe depression symptoms compared to about 15% of men. Approximately 23% of women have moderate to severe anxiety symptoms compared to 14.5% of men, at least according to this research. And stress is a factor that is much more severe among women, again, according to the findings and the article citation is included for your reference or further reading. So now let's look at the differences in our brains. In one of the largest functional brain image studies ever conducted, there were seven unique traits that were discovered about women's brains and how they differ. I thought that including this would help us to have a greater understanding in the fact that we actually do have different brains. We process information differently and we respond differently. So according to this study, female brains are busier. I'm sure that comes as no surprise to us as women, that we have more activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is the front side of our brain, that the emotional centers of our brains are more active and the ACG works harder in women's brains than that of men's brains and women worry differently. So I think sometimes it may not be that women worry more, although that may be the case, but we certainly know that we worry differently. And the ACG is a part of the brain that acts as a bridge, which is used to help make connections for the processing of emotional, sensory, cognitive, and motor information. And enable us to transition easily between thoughts and feelings. According to this study, women also rely less on our visual and coordination centers of our brains. Women have larger areas in the brain dedicated to tracking gut feelings, and our brains are generally quicker at assessing the thoughts of others based on limited information. Our gut feelings and our hunches, again, are significant in the ways we think and respond, and our serotonin systems work differently in women versus men. So I hope you find some of that interesting. And again, the point for me is to bring awareness to the fact that we are different in every aspect, including our brains and the way we think, process and respond to information. How mental distress affects women. Certainly because of the statistics involving women's mental distress at greater rates than men, it is critical that we understand the differences and why they affect us in such a more significant manner than with regard to men and male lawyers. So we know that mental health issues affect women and men differently based on what we've already covered and that there are some issues which are exclusive to women. In evaluating women's mental health, it is important that we take a broad yet gender specific approach. For example, biology, for example, biology and more specifically hormones can play a pivotal role. Women understand that our hormonal makeup is different and depending on what season of life we're in, our hormones can be more active than other seasons of life, even during our professional practicing years. Now let's look at mental versus emotional distress. I think often these terms can get confusing. So I wanted to include this slide to help articulate the differences between the two. When it comes to mental health, that term applies to cognitive processes including attention, alertness, memory, critical thinking and reasoning. Whereas emotional health describes how we manage our feelings such as getting worked up or feeling overly sensitive. Examples such as that. I've heard it described as our mental health is our hardware in a computer and our emotional health is the software. So if that analogy helps explain it better, then I hope it clarifies the differences because again, I do know the terms are used interchangeably often. Now let's turn to the subject of nutrition and women's mental health. We know that women do have different nutritional needs, obviously, especially because of the different roles we play for those during childbearing years. We understand that nutritional needs are different and particularly for those who do have children while they're pregnant, more is demanded physically and nutritionally from our bodies. So we also need to recognize that our food choices can have a profound effect not just on our physical health, but also our mental wellness, including stress, depression, anxiety, and even obsessive compulsive disorders. So I wanted to quickly address or briefly address foods that can help promote mental wellness, which include nuts and seeds. I always recommend that firms or lawyers have nuts and seeds available in common areas or that we carry them in our briefcases or our handbags as a snack. If we're in a situation where we're not able to stop and have a healthier nutritious meal rather than grabbing something sweet or a carb-loaded snack, we can get nuts or seeds that are healthy as far as the nutrients, but also brain boosting foods as well. Fruits, again, I recommend having fruits either dried fruit, not sweetened dried fruit, but just naturally or organic dried fruit available, as well as fresh fruit in common areas. And for purposes of meals, vegetables and whole grains also tend to have more of an impact as well as lean meats and proteins. The diet choice I always recommend, I understand the keto diet is extremely popular and there is good research regarding the keto diet. However, worldwide, globally the Mediterranean diet has the longest standing reputation for overall health and acceptance throughout different cultures. So I personally am a big fan of the Mediterranean diet, which many of these foods that I've listed would be part of. Obviously if you're on a keto diet, they may not be as keto friendly and then you could consider other options that would be more appropriate or if you wanted at that point to consult with a wellness coach, do some research so forth. So let's turn to vitamin C while we're talking about nutrients and look at why it is considered the mind vitamin. Vitamin C is so tremendously important for our overall health, for our immune system, but it's equally important for our brain health specifically in protecting against fatigue, helping the body resist the symptoms of depression and by strengthening the adrenals and decreasing the production of cortisol. Cortisol again is the stress hormone. So there are times it is beneficial and that is referred to as the good stress, but the stress we're talking about here is the chronic stress. And I read a statistic that the majority of lawyers stay in the flight or fight state, which produces cortisol 70% of the time. So cortisol, if it is being overproduced, is depleting and putting a tremendous strain on our adrenals resulting in adrenal fatigue. So again, taking a comprehensive view of how stress affects us as lawyers, and then more specifically how stress affects us as women lawyers. I'm going to be speaking more about this a little bit further in the presentation, but aromatherapy is available in our foods as well as through essential oils. And one aroma therapeutic effect comes from consuming oranges. For example, if you have an orange or fresh orange and you're able to slice it and just smell the scent of the orange, that can reduce your stress levels by up to 70%. Think about that. And then of course you can consume the fresh orange and get the added health benefits of the vitamin C, but orange is a powerhouse fruit and antioxidant in whatever form you're enjoying it either for it's aroma therapeutic or in consuming it. Now let's look at maintaining your second brain. Some of you may have heard your digestive system referred to as the second brain, and the reason for that is the ongoing research that has clearly established the link between the digestive tract and the brain. And if you weren't already aware of it, 90% of your serotonin level comes from your GI tract. So again, stressing the importance of the gut brain health and of course low serotonin levels were believed up until very recently to be the cause of depression resulting in the need of antidepressants. So much that research has since been challenged. But with regard to serotonin and the importance of maintaining serotonin, you can see the connection to the importance of our diet with regard to not just our serotonin levels, but overall health. Okay, the digestive tract is equally important in its ability to communicate via your hormones and your neurotransmitters. So again, I hope you're are seeing the importance of why diet is not just for our physical health, but also having a healthy digestive system. So if we're not maintaining that our brain is suffering as a result. And this I find to be particularly challenging for lawyers because of the fact that we work such long hours, so often we eat at our desks or we don't eat full balanced meals. When we go to events, there are rarely nutrient dense options available to us. And so it becomes all the more important that we try and counterbalance that. And also with regard to the fact that our digestive system contains our microbiome or is made up of our microbiome, which is both the good and bad bacteria. So again, we wanna make sure that we're maintaining the good bacteria and we're not feeding the bad bacteria. And so again, that is going to be contingent not just on our food choices but certainly that does play a role. So this is a topic I explore much more in other presentations, but I just wanted to give you a brief introduction into the discussion between gut and brain health and to make you aware of the fact that what you're eating is impacting your overall mental wellness. In fact, when it comes to issues of depression, we will talk later about journaling and so forth, but on the topic of depression alone, research has been able to establish the connection or the link between what we eat and how it's affecting us even at that moment or later in the day. So again, when we're grabbing something quick for energy or we want something sugary and women tend to draw more toward the sweeter or saltier foods, then we need to be aware of how that may be impacting our mind at that moment and perhaps make a better choice or offset it in some way because again, while we're working, if we think we're consuming something to help boost our brain power and it's actually having the opposite effect, then we wanna be cognizant of that so we can make the appropriate changes and adjust accordingly. All of these topics are explained and covered in more detail on my platform as well as through my coaching services, and some of my presentations do address 'em in more detail. But again, because this is on women lawyer wellness, I don't want to leave out the important part of the role that our diet plays in our overall health and particularly for purposes of this presentation our mental wellness. Now let's turn to another key vitamin and that is vitamin D in your brain, despite its name, vitamin D is actually a hormone and you may have heard it referred to as the sunshine vitamin, and that is because the sun is our greatest source of vitamin D. If we are able to get out into the sun for 15 to 20 minutes a day, depending on where you live and the time of year, that's the usual recommended time to have that exposure to vitamin D in order to replenish what our body needs. The reality is that most Americans are deficient in vitamin D, and so it does have a toll on our overall health, including our mental health. And studies have shown the link between vitamin D deficiency with regard to depression and even dementia. So you can see why it's important that we supplement with vitamin D or that we make it a point to get out in the sun, which is challenging, again, depending on where you live and what time of year it is. There's also an app available online through the app store that can help track your vitamin D. I've heard of it, I'm not familiar with it, but I do know that's available if you're curious about keeping a record on your vitamin D levels, that may be something worth checking out. Low vitamin D can also cause fatigue, irritability, and deplete the immune system. So again, vitamin D is another one of those powerhouse vitamins that if you're not obtaining through your diet or in case of D, out in the sunshine, make sure to supplement it. And I always recommend that you pay close attention to the supplements that you get because some supplements are so loaded with synthetic ingredients that they are counterproductive. So if you do choose to get supplementation, I would encourage you to do a little bit extra research and make sure that you're getting organic or all natural so that they're not actually counterproductive because some synthetic vitamins are just a waste of money and are counterproductive. So that's a little off topic, but it is definitely worth checking into what supplements you are getting if you choose to go that route. I've included here a reference to an article that I found it is from 2021 and it captures a woman's details regarding the struggle she had with anxiety that stems back to her first year of law school. And so often is the case with lawyers. We find that the stress, anxiety, and even depression date back to our years in law school, and there has been a great push in recent years to incorporate more in the area of professional development and also wellness within the legal, within the law school environment to help equip law students more effectively so that we don't have the high risks and the high levels of mental distress within our profession. I don't know that we have reached a point where we're seeing the numbers reverse based on implementations, but there are some law schools that are taking greater measures. However, this lawyer does explain that based on a roommate's insistence, she did end up reaching out and speaking to a therapist and she credits that with actually saving her life and then continued to battle the issue going on into her professional life at different times. So I've included the link here if you wanna check it out and read it further. One of the interesting facts about women lawyers and our openness or ability to communicate in detail what we're experiencing is that it is challenging. It's challenging to find sources online of women who are able to open up. And again, this article is anonymous. I think that indicates the struggle that women have in sharing the details. One of the benefits of my platform is that it is different from a general coaching structure, and I find that particularly helpful for lawyers who wanna remain anonymous and have the resources available to them for coaching. So that is in part a recognition of the struggle we have as lawyers in general and particularly as female lawyers in reaching out or voicing, expressing ourselves and our struggles. So again, I would encourage you to read the articles, see if you find it beneficial for someone you know, or if you're struggling, perhaps it can be encouraging to you as well. Now let's look at knowing your non-negotiables, and what I mean here is that we all have values which are inherent to who we are. We bring those values into our law school experience, into our professional career, and there are principles that we have already decided in our lives that we're not going to compromise on. There are situations professionally where we may be asked to compromise or those may be challenged. So I think it's very important to remember and to have an ongoing discussion with yourself with regard to what goals are you committed to keeping, especially if you're in a situation where you're not happy with your job or you're not happy with the coworker and you feel like you're willing to endure that to get ahead, but the stress is taking a great toll on you both physically and emotionally or either way, physically or emotionally. If this is not you, that's great, it's wonderful, but there may be someone out there, especially a woman lawyer who is battling that and needs to be reminded that there are some values we need to hold fast to no matter what changes they require us to make either personally or professionally. I referenced here the McCrate report. This was actually done in 1994, and again, it looks back to the law school years and the fact that law students are not and have not been adequately prepared for the demands that come with practicing law. And I love being a lawyer. Let me just tell you, I feel so blessed to be a lawyer and that's why I am so excited for every opportunity to be able to help and encourage other lawyers, especially as a wellness coach and a naturopathic doctor. But nevertheless, there are challenges and demands that are unique to our profession. So it's important that we prepare ourselves as much as possible and sometimes the institution and system that we study in and then practice in are not sufficient for preparing us. So again, I would encourage you to make a mental list or even a physical list on the areas that you're not gonna compromise on no matter what your goals are. And that brings us to envisioning your ideals. So one exercise that can help you in this is closing your eyes. When you close your eyes, what do you see? When you're imagining your future or your ideal life, what does that look like? What are you imagining? What is it you wanna ultimately achieve? What is it that you're picturing your life to look like in five years? Where do you see yourself? Is it where you're at now? Is it at another stage or another level of your practice? Only you know what your ultimate idea of success is. We know success varies for each individual and ultimately you're running your race you're competing with yourself, not with others. So imagine what your ultimate professional goal is and then make sure that you're staying on that track and not allowing circumstances or events to take you off of that track and wherever your ideal is in the future, can you picture yourself there? So if you see yourself at a different level in your career, can you picture that? Do you know what that looks like? That's a great mental exercise, a great reframing and goal-oriented exercise that can help you picture and imagine where you wanna be because if you can't picture it, it's going to be much harder to reach it. So again, you have to set for yourself what your standard is and not let the world or the profession or your partners or your practice to find that for you. You have to know what your idea of success is and make sure that you're charting your course toward that goal. And if not, think about what changes you can make. Maybe it's talking to somebody within your profession, maybe it's talking to a professional, a coach. Maybe it's just tweaking certain areas of your life or your professional choices to get closer to that. But whatever that goal is, make sure you're staying on track for that. We all have events in life that can veer us off track, but it's up to us to make sure that we're pursuing the path we want and that we're charting that path. I understand we all have to pay our dues and we all have to take cases that we may not want to take or pursue paths that we think will get us to where we need to go ultimately, but it's not where we wanna be right now, but if that's costing your wellness, your satisfaction in your life, then it's definitely worth reevaluating or speaking to somebody about. As a woman, I think that those who have come before us have paid such a tremendous price for us to be in this profession and to be able to practice law. So it hurts my heart to think of the women who are are leaving the profession because of stress or mental distress or dissatisfaction when there are certain changes that can be made to give them more fulfillment and to help them achieve what they have sacrificed so much to accomplish. And that's what I wanna communicate here to my fellow women lawyers, is to make sure that if there is something in your practice that is causing you to have burnout or reach the level of mental distress, aside from the recommendations here prior to leaving the profession, speak to somebody, whether it's a colleague, a friend, or again, even a coach before you are willing to walk away. There are times where it's the right thing to do. There are other times where different choices can be made and we'll explore those a little bit further in this presentation as well. So let's talk about some wellness tips for women lawyers, exercise, particularly walking outside in the fresh air when you're walking around a track of a gym or you're walking up and downstairs in a building. Yes, that is still great cardiovascular health, but and a great aerobic exercise, but it's not the same as breathing in the fresh air, the recycled air that we're constantly exposed to. It's not the same as the fresh air that we're able to breathe in and enjoy out in nature. One of the recommendations I make is to consider walking meetings or taking phone calls on headphones while you're out. I also encourage lawyers to consider when you're on a Zoom call or a Zoom meeting to switch it to audio only so that you're able to be outside, even if you're able to sit in an outdoor coffee shop or on a bench, just get outside whenever possible while still doing your work. I understand this doesn't work in every situation, but perhaps you can grab your laptop and sit outside depending on the time of day and get a little work done out there. Anything we can do to change up our environment will help change our mindset and help stretch our brain a little bit and also have a reset mentally. So where the source of the stress is coming from, remaining in the same environment and working at the same pace in a structured situation, changing it up a little bit can help change our outlook, can reduce our stress, and also help us to enjoy our job by doing it a little bit differently. Again, I understand this doesn't apply to every situation or something we can do every day, but just making simple changes in the way we practice can reap great benefit overall. Also, consider keeping a food mood journal, and I touched on journals briefly a little while ago, but this is specifically with regard to tracking our food and mood. As I indicated, the depression journals where we're able to track depression and what we eat, even if you're not someone who battles depression. Just understanding the connection between foods and how it affects our mood. If we're more anxious, if we're calmer based on what we eat. So if you're eating foods and you notice a change in the way you're reacting or responding or you feel like you're not yourself or you're getting more stressed or more anxious or more fatigued, this is where it's beneficial to have something in writing or even on your cell phone or on your tablet, just someplace where you can document what you're eating and how you notice it affects you. Again, those are simple changes we can make once we're aware of them. Also consider creating or joining a mentoring network. As women, we have grown and advanced in our profession and we have done so with fewer mentors, and increasingly more isolation within the workplace. It's amazing to me that lawyers in general are considered the loneliest profession. There was a study done a few years ago and it documented of all the professions, lawyers tend to be the loneliest and even more unfortunate is out of that pool women lawyers tend to be more isolated and feel even lonelier. So this creates a greater need for us to have a network of other women lawyers that we can turn to or pick up the phone if we're feeling stressed. Others who relate to us. If your bar association has a women lawyers section, perhaps that's a place to network and to gain colleagues and gain resources to other female colleagues. Or perhaps it's just connecting with other women lawyers you know, and making it a point to have lunch once a week, get together after work and have a cup of tea or a cup of coffee or work out together or just have an event together, do something creative together, have some source of female lawyer mentoring so that we can encourage one another again to avoid the necessity of lawyers exiting the profession at such a great rate. If there are changes we can make to encourage one another and stay in the profession, then society as a whole benefits from the contributions we make to the profession, and of course, steeping away your stress with a calming cup of tea. Another suggestion I always make to lawyers and law firms is to keep herbs, organic herbs around to have for a calming or stimulating cup of tea. As a helpful note here, one of my favorite herbs is peppermint. I love peppermint tea, I love peppermint essential oil. Peppermint is an adaptogenic herb, which means if you need a calming cup of tea, you can have a cup of peppermint tea, but if you need a stimulating cup of tea, you can also have a cup of peppermint tea because it is one of the many herbs that is able to adapt based on what your body needs. There are other calming herbs such as lemon balm, lavender, camomile, bergamot, so many different herbs depending on what your choices are, but it is truly beneficial and a wonderful form of aromatherapy to make a cup of tea. Just inhale the aroma of it and just drink a cup of tea, and that's a great little reprieve from whatever the stressor is at that moment to just shift your focus off of that. Just enjoy the cup of tea and then feel recharged to get back to it to whatever your challenge is or whatever your demand is that day. Again, just a little micro break idea right there. More self care strategies. We all know the importance of getting adequate sleep, and yet most of us borrow from sleep more than any other part of our schedule, and we think that's going to balance out or that we're reaping some kind of benefit. But unfortunately, it's a system of diminished returns because when we sleep, our body stores or our brain stores our working memory, that's our short term memory. So if we're not able to sleep, we're not able to store that and make the transition from the short term to the long term memory. Also, when we sleep, our body is detoxing, our brain is detoxing. So if we're not getting sufficient sleep, your brain power is actually suffering. Aside from all the other aspects that poor sleep can have on our overall wellness, just know that a lack of good sleep is impacting your mental wellness as well and your body's ability to detox from the day. So again, this is not an area to borrow from, if at all possible, get to sleep while you can and try to get good sleep. If that's a challenge. Then there are also recommendations you can find online as well as through health professionals and even coaches to help get good sleep because it is critical for us as women, we multitask, we wear a lot of hats. We need to be at our best and sleep helps us get there. Also, prayer, meditation, mindfulness. No matter what your belief system is, it's important that you have that spiritual grounding. Whether you wanna meditate, whether you engage in mindful activities or if you're a person of prayer, having that, again, spiritual grounding, that source of getting outside of yourself and outside of your own problems can be extremely effective in reducing the stress and anxiety that you may otherwise feel. Feel humor and laughter therapy. Humor relieves stress and tension. It also increases your immune response. So here, consider watching a funny movie or looking at funny memes online. Just anything that can help create a chuckle or a laugh. Any source of humor or laughter, again, can help break up the day and give a release for the stress and anxiety you're feeling. And that's what we need in our lives professionally and as well as personally is to find other sources to channel or direct our stress into, to help get it out of ourselves so that we can function more effectively. Also, practicing positivity. Nobody wants to be around someone who is a downer or negative all the time. Sadly, there's the perception that lawyers are more successful if we are more negative or pessimistic, we can have a healthy skepticism and yet still remain positive. And it's important for our mental wellness that we stay positive as much as possible. So I encourage practicing positivity. This is something that I utilize in cognitive behavior, and that is taking a situation and reframing it into something more positive. So again, practice looking at situations, challenges, professional challenges, cases, difficult clients, and challenge yourself to think of it in a more positive tone or a more positive frame, if you will, and see if that helps shift the emphasis from being a situation that is stressful to one that is more effective and more positive. Also, consider music, sound therapy. Sound therapy is very well recognized throughout the world and has been throughout history. We fail to look at music in the sense of its therapeutic components and whatever your choice of music is, that's what I'm referring to here. Make sure you have your favorite songs on your playlist, on your iPhone or your smart device, your tablet, even on your computer stored and saved where it can be an easy go to. If you're feeling stressed, just play your favorite piece of music. If it's something uplifting that gets you elevated and excited and stimulates your thought process, or if it's a piece of classical music that you can lean back in your chair, close your eyes and just listen to, either way, it will have the same effect on you. If it's a piece that you've chosen that is one of your favorite tunes, and it can help, again, act as a stress breaker during the day. And after all, that's what we're looking for is just those little micro break stress relievers that can help us recharge and reset our mind frame and reset our attitudes and our outlook to be able to continue doing our job at our best level possible. Also, gratitude. Gratitude is tremendously effective. They've done studies that have tracked the minds of those who have approached life from a gratitude standpoint versus those who are more pessimistic and negative. These were measured through MRI studies and those who kept gratitude journals and expressed gratitude in the form of letters actually had healthier brains. So expressing gratitude is not just a polite or kind thing to do. It's actually a great mental health exercise as well. And tech detox, consider scheduling tech time off, taking a break from our devices. And I know we're all tied to our devices and it's hard to imagine a day or even an hour sometimes without them, but it's healthy for us mentally and also from the standpoint of getting a break from the EMFs that are emitted through our devices to step away. And again, just get outside, breathe fresh air, even if you need to have a colleague or an assistant cover your devices while you're gone if you're in a firm setting, but just have time where you take a break from it. Just again, to reprioritize, especially social media that can get to be so combative or so consuming. And I definitely encourage taking a break from social media, but even in a professional context, we feel so chained to our emails or our text messages. Whatever arrangements you need to make in advance to do so. I encourage you to schedule regular breaks so that you can have that as another opportunity to reset, reestablish your priorities, just refocus and come back with a fresher outlook. Also, allow comfort breaks, and these are different than what I've talked about so far, and they're just scheduling times again to perhaps engage in a little bit of yoga if you're a yoga person or taking a short walk, leaning back in your chair. Also, again, if you participate in meditation, if you have a mantra or a phrase, this is something that we use in coaching that summarizes who you are, a positive thought, a positive phrase if you don't consider writing one out and then saying that as a repetitive reinforcement. So again, just whatever meets the criteria for you and your setting to have a comfort break, make sure you schedule that and make it a priority in your workday. We've all heard of colleagues taking mental health days. Well, we need to take mental health breaks as well. And again, that's just allowing our minds to have that momentary pause, that reprieve, that opportunity to reshift and refocus and to gear ourselves up. We're not machines no matter how hard we try and push ourselves. We need to have those breaks, and it may be picking up the phone and calling a spouse or a child or a friend, just somebody who can help provide a little bit of a break from the day. Also, more self care strategies may include the incorporation of essential oils, aside from the aromatherapy benefits in terms of how good essential oils smell or products that contain essential oils may smell to us. The term aromatherapy is descriptive of the fact that essential oils are loaded with medicinal properties. For those who may not be familiar, essential oils date back thousands of years and have been recognized throughout the world for their medicinal benefits, particularly in the areas of mental wellness. A few examples of essential oils include many of the herbs we've already talked about in terms of teas, but camomile, lavender, lemon grass, bergamot, neroli, ylang ylang, geranium, clary sage, vetiver, all of these are relaxing essential oils. I always encourage lawyers or law firms to have essential oils in the form of diffusers in your welcome area at your front desk where clients or other attorneys are coming in. It's a wonderful way to set the environment into a calming, more relaxing environment, especially for clients who may feel very stressed in coming to meet with their attorney. Having that is a way of reframing the environment. I actually had an attorney write into me and say, of all the suggestions I made in another mental wellness course, that was his favorite in terms of a tip he walked away with, to incorporate into his practice, not just in your front entry way or your front desk area, but also through common areas. It can be equally effective if you have little tables or so forth in your common areas where a diffuser can be set up. And I also recommend roller bottles, and those are essential oils mixed with what we call carrier oils to help dilute them so they can be safely rubbed on your skin, on your pulse points, your wrists. If you rub each wrist or one wrist and rub them together. The benefits of releasing the essential oils, not just topically but into your bloodstream, can have tremendous stimulating or relaxing effect depending on the oil you choose. I also am a huge fan of essential oil inhalers. Those can be purchased. Those are items that I recommend and I encourage to include in any mental health first aid kit. Now, let's briefly turn to problem solving skills for success. One of the ways that women lawyers can excel is through the management of mental distress, which can be accomplished through the development of effective problem solving skills. I know this may seem somewhat ironic because as lawyers, we all understand that we are problem solvers at heart, and when it comes to our professional lives, I have no doubt that each of you are incredibly successful in your problem solving skills when it comes to your clients, where we run into issues are when we fail to apply those same principles to our lives both personally and professionally. So I've included a formula here that I hope can help you in offering a new approach to addressing and resolving problems. I also wanna briefly touch on emotion regulation, which is such a huge subject. It's going to be the basis of another course in the near future. However, I wanna explain the concept sufficiently here so you understand what that refers to. And it is the ability, as we've talked about practicing positivity and reframing. It's actually the cognitive skill of utilizing those tools to not deny a negative situation but confront the situation. Then reframe it. In other words, reassess or reanalyze it in such a way that you're able to confront and control the challenge rather than having the challenge control you, for example, articulating the problem or situation. Then switching the perspective from one of negativity to positivity like we discussed briefly earlier, and reframing it by stating it again in a more positive or from a more positive perspective and observe the reduction in stress. By doing so, just that simple switch or activity of reframing can act as a release of so much of the negativity, the stress and anxiety that we're feeling, cognitive behavior and neuroplasticity, which is the brain's ability to reshape and reframe and grow our concepts again, that are much more detailed than what is discussed here. So if you're interested, I would encourage you to check it out online, check out my platform, and explore the CLE that's going to be coming to address this in more detail. Just know these are powerful tools that we can use to manage our emotions regarding our situations rather than allowing them to manage us. I've also included some smart stress relieving exercises, and the smart is somewhat tongue in cheek because it refers to exercises that you can conduct on your smart phone. For example, if you start feeling stressed, grab your phone, open the notes section and start dictating. Start by saying, if I could change one thing today in my schedule or one area of my life, what would that be? Then just continue by dictating responses until you run out of ideas. Then implement those changes based on the ideas that you've dictated. Also, consider positive self-talk, and this is important so that you can reaffirm the strengths and the qualities that brought you to where you're at professionally. Rather than allowing a circumstance or situation to make you feel so negative or to threaten your competence or your ability to function optimally, reframe those. Dictate something positive about yourself. Again, in the notes feature on your phone, just think about and say something positive you like about yourself personally then professionally, then the way you do your job, consider what other people have said are your strengths and keep going until the stress is gone, and it may be a situation that you run out of time, but at least explore those and give your mind the opportunity to switch and to redirect the focus to something more positive rather than the negativity of the situation that is being perceived. I've also included a slide here, which I always do on the important contribution companion animals make to our mental health. Obviously based on my additional doctorate in animal naturopathy, I am a huge believer in animal wellness, both for them as well as having companion animals in our lives for the contribution they can make to our lives, as well as the contributions we can make to theirs. So I've included a couple of links. I would encourage you to check out if you are interested in learning more about how companion animals can truly bless and benefit our lives. All right, the key takeaways I hope you've gained from here are a recognition that there are real reasons as to why we respond differently, both personally and professionally than our male counterparts within the profession. And knowing what you want, envisioning what it looks like, and going out there to get it. Understanding that we have career choices no matter what situation we're in, and we can always exercise those to offer ourselves the best quality of life we are pursuing. Also, not to overlook the role that nutrition and natural therapies offer and the easy opportunities to promote them and to incorporate them into our lives, to promote wellness as well as cognitive behavior and neuroplasticity, considering the ways they can equip us with the tools to, again, exert control over those areas of our lives that threaten our peace and our ability to function optimally as well as making self care a priority. As a final thought, I wanna thank you all for sharing your time and for allowing me the opportunity to speak with you about a topic I am so passionate about, and again, a profession I feel so privileged to be part of. I do hope that something you've heard here today will benefit you or someone you know, and please remember that no matter what the challenge, what the circumstance, or even what the crisis may be, there is always help and there is always hope. Feel free to reach out and contact me if you have any questions or comments, and until next time, take care and be well.
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On demand
1h 4m 37s

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