Stress, anxiety and depression are not uncommon in a lawyer’s life. According to a survey conducted in the USA by John Hopkins University in the 1990s, lawyers are 3.6 times more prone to depression than other people. India is the country with maximum depression in the world according to recent reports. I know a few things about that.
I have been working as a lawyer since 2012 and have been fighting depression for quite some years now.
My lived experience tells me that depression is not uncommon in the legal sector of India. When I talk about it, people around me opens up and confides in me about their troubles. After all, being a lawyer is a demanding job. The profession has its own host of factors that causes stresses and strains.
You have to deal with clients, senior attorneys, other advocates, judges, mediators, receivers, clerks, notaries and the police. You need to interact with professional personnel from other industries such as accountants and IP specialists. All in all, it is essential for a lawyer to meet and deal with a lot of people – each with their own sets of demands and requirements.
You have to meet their demands and take care of their interests to succeed and shine.
It is not only the stress and strain involved in your work as a lawyer, but also the ruthlessly competitive market, coupled with the economic downturn that much of the world is witnessing today, that makes the situation worse.
You work 10-12 hours a day, six days a week. Even on Sundays you have meetings to attend. You get very little time to look after your own self – to take care of your mind and body. And yet, after all these, especially if you are a young lawyer trying to find your feet in the profession, you may end up getting a pittance in return of all your sweat, toil and burning the midnight oil. That’s the experience of the vast majority of young lawyers anyway.
There are a few who get paid well at law firms and senior’s chambers, but they have their share of different problems, like office politics or preferential treatment or inhumane work pressure.
Add a sprinkling of negotiations that go horribly wrong, client meetings that take unexpected turns, cutthroat competitors undercutting your rates, client’s who disappear without paying bills, judges who are unkind or unscrupulous, or just difficult matters in court where the chances of getting favourable orders are next to nil (remember, as a young lawyer, you often find yourself in a situation where you have very little choice to say no to a case even when defeat in the courtroom is staring at your face), and a few unreasonable clients, and the putridish of near-hopelessness is complete. All these are bound to have a toll on your mind, as it did, and still does, on mine.
Remember, being a lawyer is such a profession where work-related stress is unavoidable.
So, how do you deal with that? What are the ways and means through which you can keep yourself fortified?
My own struggles with depression as a lawyer have taught me some things and I am still learning. Here, I share with you my learnings around managing stress and anxiety so as to keep depression at bay and retain productivity as a lawyer.
1. Stop Lying to Yourself
The first thing my shrink told me was to stop lying to myself.
This made me introspect. I asked myself the following questions:
- What are the things that are holding me back?
- Do I think my responses to stuff around me are reasonable?
- Do I even like the person who I am?
- Where do I stand in life at this point?
- What difficulties confront me today?
- What steps can I take to overcome the same?
You will be surprised at how lucid the steps will seem once you answer all the previous questions with ruthless honesty.
More often than not, what stands between you and your honesty is your ego. This is not your fault. It is a sense ingrained in you through millenniums of human conditioning. Our civilization, culture and history has made us so.
It does not take an especially narcissistic person to think ‘I am always right!’. In heart of hearts, this conflated ego works against us. It makes us blind to the immediate realities. At times it turns us into rabbits in headlights. At other times, it makes us look at the world with rose tinted glasses and think that everything is alright.
Even in ancient India, the Abhidhamma Sutta of the Buddhists was developed as a school of psychology when these problems were felt and engaged with.
Modern-day practitioners of mental health have developed tools that help us get out of this shell of delusions. This whole thing can be regarded as a ‘perspective building exercise’. All you need is to go deep and broad inside your conscious mind. Think.
What if you did this?
Can you believe that one way to become truly powerful is to dismantle the person you have become?
Practice thinking about your own self in a structured manner, with an intention to discover your own bullshit.
You need to find and neutralize the traps you have laid for yourself.
You need to diffuse the triggers you have set up inside your head.
The way to do that is to discover the truth by looking at things you have trained yourself to not look at. The way is to examine your pain and discomfort, stuff that you resist even thinking about.
You have to question your own assumptions and deeply held beliefs and value systems you grew up with. That is the way that may lead you to freedom and peace.
Once you have discovered and mapped out your demons, the next step is to plan out how you will take them by their horns. Remember, your own mind is one of the most wonderful teachers that you will ever have. Make good use of it.
However, it would often be prudent to find another trained person or a coach to take you through that journey.
2. Do one thing at a time
This sage advice was given to me by a highly successful technology professional who is also a writer par excellence.
This got me thinking. Yes, we can poach an egg and talk to mom on the phone at the same time. But it is impossible, as per my experience, to do legal research for one case and draft the other reply to notice at the same time.
So, for things that require more mental energy, cognitive resources and will power, it is common sense to do one thing at a time, and to do that with unwavering focus.
This holds especially true for lawyers, corporate personnel and other multitasking professionals.
If there are multiple things to be done in the course of your job, then divide the day into multiple parts.
Assign each part to each of the many specific tasks. This method is called ‘chunking’.
Forget doing two or three things together, because writing a draft and consulting clients is different from making a sandwich and talking to a friend. The latter, unlike the former, can be done.
Even if you are able to multi-task, please don’t. Make it a habit to ruthlessly focus at one thing at a time. Focus on your work at hand as if nothing else exists in the world. There will be fleeting thoughts in your head about other things that appear pressing. Ignore everything. Let all thoughts pass. You will do nothing else until what you have set out to do is done.
This is the most valuable habit you can ever create, which will not only protect you from depression, but create the greatest work ethics.
This is something we tend to lose track of in entirety while struggling to find our feet as a lawyer. Every workday is loaded with n number of tasks – some tough, some easy and some intermediate. All these tasks need to be done.
When tasks pile up, you get bogged down. When you get bogged down, even the simplest tasks start feeling difficult to accomplish. This is exactly what leads to stress, anxiety and depression – which often come hand in hand like the three witches of Macbeth.
That cannot happen when you have created a habit of not thinking of anything else while working on one thing. When you start saying no to everything else when you are doing one thing, some people may scream for your attention initially, but you will soon be able to train people to let you do one thing at a time. You will also be able to train yourself to create and follow a schedule.
It is imperative for a lawyer who wants to avoid anxiety to maintain a planner or a diary.
It can be done electronically or in the good old method of maintaining a diary and a calendar.
One missed hearing, meeting or deadline can leave a serious dent on your career and your confidence. Once you have mapped and planned it all or as much of it as is feasible, you can take on one bull at a time – though it is advisable to not think of work as a bull or a necessary evil.
Instead, look at your tasks as a series of professional commitments which you must do – one by one.
Do not keep things in your head. Get it out on a piece of paper, or set an alarm. The less your burden your brain with, the better you will perform and the less anxiety you will face.
3. Stop being a perfectionist
A Swedish Mathematician named Gödel had established that no algorithm can be completely foolproof. This applies to life as much as it does to mathematics. You do a thing well because you do it to the best of your ability. That’s the only simple trick for success – performing the tasks at hand to the best of one’s capacity and give yourself elbow room for error.
If you can’t forgive yourself for mistakes you make every day, stress, anxiety and depression are inevitable. However, those won’t be your only problems. If you cannot allow yourself to make mistakes, you will not move fast enough in your career, you will not grow, and you will at best be an average professional.
That is because those who are willing to make mistakes are the ones who come forward and take risk, engage in innovation and experiments, get out of their comfort zone and pick up fights where they may even lose. No loss is permanent. But the fear of making a mistake cripples us, prevents us from doing anything worthwhile and keeps us ordinary.
It also gives us tremendous anxiety.
If you are not willing to make mistakes, the guy next to you who is willing to learn by making mistakes will speed past you and you will be left wondering what was missing in you that someone remarkably less talented is doing better than you.
Imagine that I am ready to make mistakes and lose, and I take 100 chances. I may win 50% of the time. Let’s say that you are very cautious and play only 10 times and win 100% of the times. Chances are high that I will still be better off, despite losing 50 times as I have played way more times than you.
You may not lose even once, and still be worse off. People who are afraid of losing, afraid of making mistakes, afraid of hearing a no – usually do not go very far in life, but are saddled with anxiety.
If you are a stickler for perfection, you will fall apart each time something you do turns out to be imperfect by your definitions, standards and judgments.
This has the potential to devastate your mental peace. So, instead of being a perfectionist, strive for constant betterment.
Law is a highly subjective discipline. There is always room for improvement. There can always be a better order from the judge or a better deal from the client. Thus, instead of striving for the unattainable perfect order or perfect deal which does not exist in real life, strive for constant improvement.
There is only one relevant question, and it is not am I good enough. It is not what if I screw this. It is not am I better than the rest in this race. The right question is how do I increase my chances of winning this time by even a tiny bit more? What can I do to increase my odds of winning? Is there any action left that I can take to improve my chances? What would it take to get better, even by a tiny bit?
For example, after you have drafted a petition, ask yourself: “how can I make this a better draft?” or “is there anything I can do to make the client be really happy about this?” After drafting a contract, ask yourself: “have I covered all the points, or are there any loopholes left?” Ask yourself “could I still do one more thing that would help my client to achieve his objective, or add a little more value that he will appreciate?”
Remember, you have to go one notch higher, not the best possible one that has ever been drafted by humankind. You can only take things to the next level, one at a time, and it is incredibly satisfying to do so.
Accept that you are a work in progress. Aim for getting better by the day, but don’t beat yourself up over not being the perfect one already.
This approach will help you improve your functions within your profession and fortify your mental health against severe breakdowns.
4. Accept that everything is not in your control
The observable universe is 93 billion light-years in diameter. It is so big that we cannot imagine that scale.
There are between 1078 to 1082 atoms in the known, observable universe. These are so many that our senses cannot grasp.
In this grand scale of things, compare how you, your known surroundings – your body, your home, your law school, your courtroom, your law chamber or your office fare. Doesn’t it all seem like a tiny speck of dust?
In this speck of dust, you are a lawyer.
Sadly, the legal education system and the professional world of a lawyer are highly competitive spaces. They charge and drive us to take control.
This applies to our studies. This applies to the courtroom where we wish to defeat the opposition lawyer from within the adversarial system of justice administration. This also applies to the client meet where the amount of control you exercise determines your quantum of remuneration.
The element of control is most prominently present in the professional life of a litigating lawyer. The one who controls the pace and flow of the proceedings is usually the one who gets a favourable order from the court.
It is no different for a law firm lawyer or in-house counsel as per my understanding. Even they have to keep a semblance of control despite things running towards utter chaos all the time. They try to build systems, control mechanisms and processes to achieve that, and even those things fall apart or fail frequently.
Notice how many times I used the word ‘control’ in the previous paragraphs? It is unavoidable to avoid this strife for control if you want to make something out of yourself as a lawyer. That is why it is absolutely necessary to learn, to know – when to let go.
It is crucial to internalize this simple, timeless truth that there are not many things in this world that are in our control. It is no different with our work. For everything we may even manage to control at a time, there are 10 others we have no control over.
We can only influence, strive and make our moves with all we have.
Imagine a game of football. Can you control it? Can you control how every player in your team moves and reacts and behaves? Not a chance. However, you can play the game. You can respond to every situation. You have to give up your desire to control to be able to play the game. Your sphere of influence and control does exist, but it is rather tiny, and you do what you can do with it. You do not worry about everything else that is absolutely, utterly outside your control.
You play. You do not try to control. You know that you will not win the game alone, there are other players involved. There is a referee. There are coaches, managers, climate, field conditions, linesmen and what not. You can only strive to perform your best in the midst of all these uncertainties.
And you will sometimes, sometimes, have your moment of glory.
And that’s how you must practice law.
The sooner you realize this, the more secure you get from mental breakdowns. A person who is a ‘control freak’ feels shattered when the reins slip away from his hands, which happens inevitably. Avoid being that person.
5. Take a Break, smell the roses, develop a self-care routine
Pilgrimages and healing springs have existed since millennia for a reason.
You must give your mind some breathing space. This is especially true since your profession as a lawyer takes a toll on your health on a regular basis.
It is important to take regular vacations. Of course, especially for young lawyers, it is not always possible to take off any time they choose to. Herein comes, once again, the need for planning meticulously and thinking ahead.
Like you plan your work, you need to plan your fun-time – a time away from work – preferably away from email, phone, messages and Whatsapp. Once you cleanse your mind and focus on things other than your work for some time – you are bound to become a better thinker and a better lawyer.
The vacation is as important to your career as is the time you spend in your work. If you do not take a break, you are highly unlikely to become a burnt-out, bitter, irritable lawyer a la uncle Scrooge.
A corollary to this is that you must not worry about going to your office on weekends and office holidays when you have to as long as you are clear about why you are doing so and how you will manage to take a break in the foreseeable future.
Taking every weekend off is not practically feasible all the time – especially if you are a young and struggling lawyer. However, you must have a clear way to deal with that situation. You must compensate for that lack of breaks. It could be through meditation or an altered diet. It could be through therapy sessions or finding some way to take a break during work days.
However, you cannot ignore the need of a break until you crash and burn. This, unfortunately, is exactly what many young professionals do.
You also need to develop a self care routine that works for you and addresses your mental hygiene. Most people simply ignore their mental health until they have serious depression and find it impossible to keep going any more! This is avoidable with a self care routine.
This is especially true in a country like ours. Here mental health concerns are not taken seriously by many employers but what is crazy is that even employees are relatively unconcerned about their own mental health. Moreover, out here, employment rules are honoured mostly through their breach.
Self care could be in form of engaging with a therapist, career coach, journaling, meditation, yoga, hitting the gym, and other conscious efforts to ease the creases of your mind.
Nonetheless, your mind is your mind, and it is crucial for you to guard it against all odds and oddities. If you can’t take a break, that is an alarming situation and you need methods to address that anxiety and stress before it becomes unmanageable.
6. Happiness, bliss and fulfillment don’t have to wait for money
This is often very paradoxical. We live in an age that is driven by consumerism – which, in turn, is driven by capital.
All relationships, as your Marxist uncle would nod when you say this, have an economic basis.
Even the happiness you feel may get determined by the caviar you nibble at while sipping on to your single malt scotch whiskey. Thereby comes this mad urge to earn more money – so that you may not merely pay your bills but also buy the materials that make you happy.
Lawyers are particularly vulnerable to this. This is because we get very little time for ourselves to enjoy after our tedious and mentally taxing professional commitments. So we think of buying the best things and earning a lot of money to lead a so called good life and make the most of whatever little time we get for ourselves. This is exactly where you need to take a step back and think.
You may also look around and think of the people whom you think are the happiest.
It is time to ask yourself the question: ‘are they happy because they are rich?’
You will be surprised by the answer that your own rational mind gives – ‘not necessarily’.
Different people find happiness in different things – some in pursuing their passion, others in cuddling with their pets, even others in chatting with their friends, while some in holding the hands of their beloved ones – in one, more and all of these.
Yes, some people also find happiness is doing their work because they see it as passion, craft or art.
So, do not confuse between money and happiness. It is great to earn lots of money, but you do not have to wait to earn before you can be happy.
This is a major reason that people get anxiety and depression. Chasing happiness makes any human being miserable. Especially when you put a condition to your happiness – I am only going to be happy when I buy that Ferrari! I am only going to be happy when I finally make partner. I am going to be happy when I become a senior counsel!
Please do not do that to yourself. Happiness if a place to come from, not a place to go to. You can never reach happiness by chasing it, just like you cannot catch your shadow.
You can practice being happy no matter what else is happening, and it is a great shield against any depression.
Do not conflate money, success, achievement with happiness or fulfillment. Because when you are happy and you need nothing external to achieve that state of happiness or bliss, you are way more likely to get where you want to get.
When you are fulfilled by looking back in gratitude at the blessings you already have in life, you become a force of nature. Remember, depression cannot coexist with gratitude.
7. Your physical health is key to your mental health
Okay, this is something that old grannies say. But old grannies, having been wizened by ripe life, are mostly right.
In the second century AD, Roman poet Juvenal had written this line – mens sana in corpore sano. It means ‘a healthy mind is a healthy body’.
The need to keep oneself free from afflictions was given primacy by our ancient ancestors too. Wellbeing has been crucial to us since the dawn of history. You need to pay heed to this wisdom from the continuous collective of humankind.
Work or other people do not impact your health. Your lack of care and attention to your own health is the real culprit. Only reason other people, or work makes a dent on your physical mental health is because you tacitly or passively allow such things to happen.
Do you go for regular and detailed health check ups? Have you educated yourself enough about your health? For example, when did you last check your vitamin B12 or D3 levels? Do you educate yourself about supplements and interventions that can make your physical and mental health better? Do you know if you consume enough dietary fibres? What do you do to build and maintain strong immunity? Do you know your own body composition, health of bones and body fat percentage? Have you read any books on health or subscribed to any online channels that educate you about the latest information from health sciences?
If you don’t, you are not caring about your health enough, and that is almost inevitably leading to a difficult mental health situation too.
Most lawyers never bother to check or learn enough about their own health, or even measure or track the same, leading to disasters. Many of us have made mistakes and then learnt how to take care of our health. Either way, the earlier you learn, the better.
There is no having a bright, shining, cloud-free mind without having a body that is taken care of. And what else can a lawyer strive more for?
8. Share with trusted friends
In the USA, there is a platform for depressed lawyers to come together and share their difficulties with each other, to give and take advice. It is called the Lawyer’s Depression Project.
Legal professionals and law students with diagnosed mental health conditions come together and participate in this platform. If the testimonials are something to go by, it has proved immensely beneficial to many of them.
Unfortunately, in India, we do not have any such platform.
Nonetheless, it is crucial to build an informal structure – a safe space where you can confide – in these regards. Never feel shy to ask for help. Had Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt not asked for each other’s help in the last century, Fascism would have ruled roost over Europe for many more years to come.
We all need help at times. It can come from a trusted peer – a friend or a group of friends, some fellow professionals who are suffering from the same or similar problems like you do, even from a family member or your loved one.
You need to create a safe space for yourself and your mind.
A space where you can share your innermost thoughts, fears, anxieties and vulnerabilities without being taken advantage of can be an immensely beneficial undertaking. It can be one person, it can be a therapist or coach, it can be a support group.
Groups are better because you also get to contribute to others. If you do not have a group, take an initiative to become a mentor or coach to other people struggling with mental health, stress or anxiety. It is not always hard to tell who needs help.
Don’t you know at least one lawyer who needs that space from you? Do you not know at least one lawyer you can trust and talk to?
Such a space can help you let it all off the chest, know that you are not alone and give you the joy of helping out people similarly afflicted as you are. Maybe, start with building a Whatsapp group or weekly meet up group?
9. Focus on the positives
Once again, let us recall that popular idiom – ‘the darkest cloud has a silver lining’. No matter how bad things are, there is bound to be an upside.
More often than not, there is more than one upside.
Even when you are struggling really hard and it all seems very dark all around – something good is happening around you. There is some opportunity hidden in every obstacle.
If nothing else, all your hardships are making you stronger – more adept as a human being to survive in this world and to thrive when your time comes.
Do not lose hope. Do not stop working on yourself. Keep the faith in life and your abilities to navigate whatever life throws at you.
Keep the faith in yourself that you will bounce back, like you have done every single time in the past.
You are not alone. You have thousands of years of human history – millennia of collective lived experiences – that moulds you into who you are every single second.
With this faith in the past, focus on the present in the pursuit of a bright future that is bound to come, sooner rather than latter. When you begin to take actions from a place of deep conviction, you shall find all the negativity fading like the darkest hours of the day fades to the sunshine of dawn.
10. Be generous on purpose
The Good Samaritan was a happy man.
When the Buddha went out in search of his dhamma, he realized that the meaning of life lies in annihilating dukkha that is sadness from the hearts of people and formed his Sangha to this end.
The history of human civilization is rich with examples of such people working to make other people less miserable. There is a reason why altruism has been held in esteem as a lofty moral principle since times immemorial.
Now suppose you are a lawyer. The absurdity of it all is affecting you like it had affected Franz Kafka so much so that it motivated him to pen the Trial. Your everyday work and life seems tedious and meaningless.
Now suppose, by making good use of the fact that you are a lawyer, and being empathetic to the plight of other people because our own life is bogging you down bit by bit every day, you start taking up their causes. It not only gives you a great opportunity to learn your trade, through it life gives you an opportunity to feel something that is beyond happiness – to feel bliss.
Generosity is not something that only others enjoy, the generous person enjoys far more. Have you ever met a generous person who was being miserable at the same time?
If you are miserable, the surest way to pull yourself up is to find a person who is more miserable and help that person. I dare say, you will never fail to find a person who is in more misery than you are, only if you get out of your head and go looking around in real life.
Now, financial constraints might be an impediment to your taking up of cases on a pro bono basis.
Even then, pro bono lawyering is not the only way in which you can stand beside the marginalized and the subaltern.
Many young lawyers in this country enroll themselves with the District Legal Services Authority of their district of practice. The DLSA offices, established under the National Legal Services Authority Act, is located in or around the district, trial or sessions courts of the district where you practice. Every year, you shall get an opportunity to enroll yourself with the same. Many lawyers do a terrible job of it, but what if you poured your heart and soul into it?
What if you ran a free helpline for people in distress?
Giving with no expectation of return will never fail to protect you from depression or self-pity.
You can also fight cases at a nominal cost, or only with enough money to cover your legal expenses involved in handling such a brief. Nowadays, many organizations like the Ford Foundation gives grants to lawyers who wish to contribute to society in this manner.
There are also organizations like the International Justice Mission and the Human Rights Law Network that employ lawyers who fight cases for one or more social causes. A simple online search in this regard can yield great results and enable you to reach a position where you can use your training as a lawyer to help the needy.
If not legal work, you can even simply do one generous deed every day. Even smiling at a person who does not expect a smile is sometimes an act of generosity. Even treating the service person with unexpected kindness is generosity. Every tried calling the cabin crew or the bus conductor as sir? They will be shocked but see their face gleaming with joy when you show them the utmost respect.
You can be generous by even counselling a victim or with a word of encouragement.
Why? Because once you start doing so, you get a feeling that no money or affluence can buy. You feel like you are being a part of the change you dream to see in the world. This will help you tap into your empathetic self.
This, in turn, will enable you to embrace yourself for who you are.
This is not only a great hack for being in great mental health, but also probably the greatest thing you can do for your legal career. Everyone loves a lawyer who is ready to give more than he or she wants to take and they get disproportionate results in life.
11. Do not severe your connections from people who care for you
When you are in depression, or on the verge of it, you are likely to want to cut off from the world, especially the people who love you and care about you. That is what happens almost always. And that is a great mistake that makes a bad situation terrible.
We may also feel too weak to support those who depend on us and disappear.
Prima facie, being there for those who count on us seems like an easy task. After all, why would one even think of turning their back on the people they care for?
However for someone suffering from anxiety, depression and having to contend with a stiff workload, reaching out in itself can be a tedious task, leave alone the urge to stand beside your near and dear ones in their hour of need.
Having someone to depend on you when you yourself are gasping for breath can indeed seem to be a tall order. This is how depressed people get alienated and lonely. I speak from personal experience.
Do not let this happen to you. People who are depressed and lonely seek solace in substance abuse and often take to suicide as the ultimate solution. What such a person needs is tender loving care, words of affirmation and positive advice.
That person is you. Stick close to people who care for you. Tell them what you are going through. Surviving alone is very difficult in this situation, but with the help and intervention of people around you, you are very unlikely to go down.
You know who those people are. Tell them well ahead of time. Do not wait for a crisis. Do not try to fight this alone. Do not let it slide too far before you ask for help.
Talk to the person you think you can talk to. Then talk to a few more. Do not stop until you have a gang to back you up.
12. Get sufficient sleep and have your meals in time, find a rhythm of discipline
Once again, we veer back to the point of discipline. Once again, from the ancient Spartans to the modern day Japanese, history – through past and present, bear testimony to how discipline makes individuals, civilizations and cultures thrive. It is discipline that makes heroes and leaders – successful professionals and entrepreneurs – out of sincere human beings.
When the human civilization was in its tumbling toddler days of prehistory our ancestors used to live in communes. Then, they began to live in clans and then as families – from the joint families of not so distant past to the nuclear families of our EMI-laden post globalization reality – the bulwark has, till date, been held together through discipline. It is a part of our core instinct.
My shrinks have been stressing on the need for discipline in life to lead a healthy, balanced one time and again. All mental health professionals advise their patients to practice discipline in life whenever they find that it is necessary to impart such advice for the sake of their patients’ wellbeing.
It is important that you eat wholesome, nutritious and balanced meals and get as much of restful sleep as your body requires.
Sleep is often an undervalued ally. You can measure your sleeps with cheap wristwatch like gadgets these days. Getting quality sleep will change your life and help you to get over mental health issues very fast.
13. Exercise and meditation
“It is a truth universally acknowledged” that a sedentary lifestyle makes you feel all lethargic and down, while sweating it out makes the happiness inducing hormones flow from your glands.
The need for regular exercise has, once again, been stressed upon by all mental health personnel whom I have ever met and engaged with. The internet and self-help books are filled with this advice, as are books, journals and blog entries on exercising for wellness and wellbeing.
While there are some simple exercise regimens that you can learn online, the more advanced ones need professional guidance from gym trainers, fitness experts and meditation therapists. This holds true not only for more complex exercises including those that involve weights, but also for yogic asanas and meditations.
You may have a tendency to think that you need some complex system to start with, but that is no reason to postpone exercising or meditation. You must find the simplest way to do both, and something you can start today.
I recommend youtube yoga videos that you can do in the bed. Just search for yoga in bed in youtube. Find 5 minutes guided meditation sessions online. Later, you can graduate to more complicated stuff. Getting started with even the easiest possible step is critical to your success.
It is true that guided meditation techniques like pranayama and vipasana has yielded positive results in removing mental blockages and negativity, and, consequently, in improving functionality and productivity of many individuals. It is not difficult to enroll yourself in such programs.
14. Seek professional help
This bit is extremely important. In a country like India, a considerable amount of social stigma surrounding mental health persists despite all scientific advancements. Here, everyday issues faced by the persons suffering from mental health issues can be ignored not only by the society at large but by the immediate surroundings of the victims and even by the victims themselves.
Even a simple action like visiting a regular physiotherapist and asking them to administer basic and progressive muscle relaxation techniques and therapies on you can go miles in improving your mental and physical faculties. It can enable you to cope better with your everyday stress and strain.
It took me fifteen years of feeling blue that I was able, with a lot of help and encouragement from a deeply caring partner, to seek and obtain professional mental health assistance. The professions of counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists exist for a purpose. Without timely intervention, a victim can take drastic steps involving harming the self and others. Have we not all heard of somebody or other who could not take it anymore and either break down, lash out or end their life?
So take your stand today. Mental health issues have reached epidemic proportions across the world in this day and age.
And yet, you will find many who will try to brush your issues aside.
For example, they might chide you for some mistake done by you all ‘because you were feeling upset’, when the reality might be so that there are genuine, rational and scientific reasons behind whatever weighs and bogs you down, or cages, chains and chokes you up.
There is very little awareness even among the lawyers’ community in India about the issues that plague their profession. It is perhaps necessary to conduct a survey in India like the one conducted by the John Hopkins University of the USA in the 1990s. One can be almost sanguine that such a survey will show that the lawyers of India are extremely prone to depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. And yet, there is scant support system among the professional community of lawyers against this ailment. Not many research based literature has been generated to spread awareness on the same either. The same holds true for other stressful professions as well.
If you are suffering from depression and other mental health problems, you need to come out and seek help. You deserve to lead a life without suffering and stigma. If you yourself are not afflicted by the same but know someone who is in need of help, you must help them in their struggle.
15. Engage your brain in learning new skills
Just like gratitude and depression cannot co-exist, learning and development and depression cannot co-exist. A person who is improving himself cannot engage in anxiety, stress or self-pity.
Just like physical exercise keeps depression at bay, so does exercising your brain to learn new skills.
This is a great reason why you should never stop learning, if the fact that you become a better lawyer every day by doing so is not enough reason to engage in learning and development activities every day.
You could learn a new skill like playing the piano or playing chess as well. You could learn a new language. Or you could begin to develop expertise in a new and unfamiliar area of law.
We can help with the last one. Here are some courses that can fire up your brain with amazing learning experiences every single day:
EXECUTIVE CERTIFICATE COURSES
Students of Lawsikho courses regularly produce writing assignments and work on practical exercises as a part of their coursework and develop themselves in real-life practical skill.