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How to not burn yourself out as a lawyer

13rd December 2018

The legal profession can be one of the most stressful career paths.
 
Lawyers continuously face huge challenges dealing with workplace stress and 'burning out'. When you are working extremely long hours with large workloads, it is sometimes impossible to avoid. The difficulty with the profession comes from the constant burden of basing your working life around the client. This inherently comes with inconvenient deadlines, unwanted phone calls and sometimes no consideration for the time difference!
 
In 2018, over 82% of junior lawyers reported feeling regularly or occasionally stressed with a further 26% being severely/extremely stressed. Then you take into account the people who choose not to enter the profession for this reason, those who have dropped out and those who suffer from serious mental health conditions.
 
What can be done to prevent this?

Here are some of the key symptoms of stress:
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Physical changes: Headaches, skin, colds, aching muscles and digestive problems.
  • Drinking and smoking: Alcohol is a depressant and smoking is an unhealthy habit.
  • Eating: comfort eating or skipping meals.
  • Mood swings: being short-tempered and hot-headed, but also having serious lows.
  • Panic attacks
How to manage stress:
 
If you are feeling any of these symptoms, especially if it is a combination, there are some things you can do to help you manage.
 
  • keep a diary: in this day and age, an online (secret!) blog has become a popular way for people to get out their feelings in a rather cathartic way
  • confide in a friend or colleague
  • take on less at work: this may not always be possible, but delegation is a key skill every employee must learn
  • be healthier: eat well, exercise and avoid alcohol and smoking. This may hard to do in practice, but the results always show people having more energy
  • prioritise: rushing work or attempting to tackle many things at once is never a good idea. Delegate and prioritise.

There is always the option of seeking professional help. This is not something to shy away from, and there is no reason it has to be public knowledge. Confiding in a professional could be the fastest and most effective way of tackling stress.