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The Mindful Lawyer: tips and tools for managing stress

The Mindful Lawyer: tips and tools for managing stress

By Alida Vandewiele

Health Wellbeing 

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As the corporate world becomes increasingly fast-paced, many people are looking for ways to manage anxiety and improve concentration. Mindfulness, the practice of being intentionally aware of the present moment, has over the past few years been embraced by high profile corporations, such as Google and Monash University, for its role in reducing workplace stress and improving academic performance. Whilst it is rooted in Buddhist traditions spanning thousands of years, there has been a resurgence over the last 20 years of researchers pointing to the benefits of mindfulness training for increasing health and well-being and in 2014, mindfulness practice even featured on the front page of Time magazine.

 

Have you ever fumbled over a client’s question and replayed that moment over and over again? Or perhaps had a manager question the quality of your work and feel flustered? Lawyers are very prone to experiencing demanding workloads and could benefit from incorporating mindfulness into day-to-day habits. For those lawyers new to mindfulness practice, below are some tips and tools to get started towards greater wellbeing and increased focus.

 

  1. Breathe

Breathing is a well-known mindfulness tool, and for good reason: conscious breathing is a great way to reduce stress and turn off the “fight or flight” response often felt when faced with difficult situations. To start, sit on a chair with a straight spine and feet flat on the floor. Slowly inhale for 5 seconds and then exhale for 5 seconds until you find a slow and steady rhythm. Maintain this for 1 minute.

 

  1. Guided meditations

A great way to learn how to practice mindfulness is by listening to guided meditations. ‘Headspace, a meditation app available on iPhone and Android, is a great place to start for short guided meditations suitable for all levels. Another valuable resource is ‘Smiling Mind, an Australian not-for-profit app and website focused on young Australians that offers free downloadable programs. These tools allow lawyers to practice mindfulness on their own or even start a mindfulness program with a group, in their firm or organisation.

 

  1. Join a class

Yoga and meditation are at the core of mindfulness practice and there are more studios than ever offering a large range of classes. With so many choices available, one size may not fit all and it’s recommended to try a few different classes, styles or teachers to find what works. With options ranging from Hot Yoga and Yin Yoga, to Hip Hop Yoga and hybrids such as Barre (a yoga and Pilates inspired workout incorporating ballet moves), there’s something for everyone.

 

  1. Put pen to paper

Adult colouring books and mindfulness journals are having a big moment right now. Not only does colouring bring us back to simpler childhood times, it also uses areas of the brain that enhance focus and concentration, leading to improved problem solving and organisational skills. Focusing on the repetitive patterns often found in adult colouring books has a therapeutic effect that helps reduce feelings of anxiety and deters from negative emotions. Adult colouring books and mindfulness journals are widely available, including in most major bookstores and Etsy. A popular and well-reviewed option is Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book.

 

By incorporating mindfulness in day-to-day life, lawyers can benefit from reduced stress, improved concentration and work performance, awareness of negative thought processes and enhanced interpersonal skills. Hopefully the above tips and tools help get you on your way to a more mindful legal practice. 


Disclaimer: Views expressed by commentators are not necessarily endorsed by the Law Institute of Victoria Ltd (LIV). No responsibility is accepted by the LIV for the accuracy of information contained in the comments and the LIV expressly disclaims any liability for, with respect to or arising from any such views.

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