When you live, eat, and breathe the lawyer life, it can be easy to let caring for your physical and mental health get away from you.
But consistently skipping the gym and surviving on late-night takeout may seem like it’s helping you do better at your job in the short run, but in the long run those choices will build up and negatively affect both your personal and professional life. You can’t do your job well if you’re unhealthy.
Read on for some common health areas that busy lawyers tend to ignore, and the quick and easy changes you can make to get back on track.
Not getting enough sleep?
When you’re consistently getting less than seven or eight hours of sleep each night, not only does it make mornings less pleasant, but it can hurt your overall productivity.
- Memory problems: A lack of sleep makes it harder to maintain information.
- Negative attitude: When you’re not well rested, it’s more difficult to stay positive and upbeat when interacting with coworkers and clients.
- Deteriorating physical health: Sleep gives your body a chance to reset, regulate your blood sugar and blood pressure, and fight illness.
- Put the phone down: Stay away from any electronics at least 30 minutes before bed to help your brain rest.
- Put the coffee down: Avoid caffeine later in the day. Instead, try a minute or two of movement—a brisk walk, jumping jacks in your office, etc.—to feel more alert.
When you’re working 70+ hours a week as many lawyers do, fitting in the suggested 30 minutes of exercise a day can feel impossible. No matter how little time you have, though, getting in at least some exercise most days of the week can make your work more efficient.
- Better brain power: Exercise brings oxygen to the brain, leading to better focus at work.
- Better mood: Exercise releases endorphins, making you feel more alert and positive.
- Lower stress: Exercise is a great outlet for the stress that can build up during the work day. You can get your body fit and clear your head at the same time.
- Walk to and/or from work: This is the simplest way to fit exercise into your schedule and commute at the same time.
- Go early in the morning: Starting your day a little earlier so you can exercise helps wake up both your mind and your body.
Eating the wrong foods?
Late nights at the office usually means lots of take out. Getting healthy, well rounded meals is not easy when you don’t have the time or energy to cook for yourself each night.
- Bad moods: Not making the time to eat can lead to long, cranky days.
- Work productivity lowers: If you’re not eating the right food to fuel your brain, your energy level and productivity will suffer.
- Physical health: Unhealthy eating can catch up to you. It can lead to heart problems, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and other conditions.
- Meal prep: Come to work prepared. Take time on the weekend to prepare and pack reheatable meals for lunch and dinner.
- Healthy snack stash: Always stash things like protein bars, nuts, and other healthy snack options in your office so you can avoid that bag of potato chips calling you from the vending machine or the treats in the break room.
Need a break?
Does it ever feel like the work is just piling up and there is no end and no break in sight? Not having the opportunity to step away from the job can cause unhappiness in your personal life as well as cause your performance at work to suffer.
- Worse outlook at work: When you feel chained to your desk it can create a negative outlook on your job and make it difficult to get motivated.
- Hurt relationships: When you are always consumed with work—even when away from the office—your relationships can suffer.
- Increased stress levels: Not having time to decompress, socialize, or even just do laundry can raise stress levels, which in turn have negative physical and mental health consequences.
- Stand up: You can take a break without even leaving your desk. Just stand up, shake your body out a bit to get the blood flowing, do a few stretches, and you’ll feel reenergized and focused.
- Practice mindfulness: Get into the habit of carving time out in your day to put your phone down and be present no matter how little time you have, such as during your lunch break.
- Get some fresh air: No matter how busy you are and how much work there still is to do, you need to take five minutes to breathe some fresh air. Maybe you can’t take a substantial break, but even a few minutes will help.
Do your best to create a more balanced lifestyle when you find yourself in the middle of a busy period. Don’t forget that even though work is important, your health is most important of all. Be proactive about your health and your body and your job will thank you.