If you are looking for ways to make the best of your career in law and life more generally, here are three of our favourite tips from Clarissa Rayward, also known as “The Happy Family Lawyer”. We recognise that mental health is an important issue facing the legal profession, and that’s why LawCPD is committed to creating educational materials that can equip lawyers to improve their wellbeing.
Clarissa is a nationally renowned advocate for wellness in the law who has launched many initiatives to support lawyers in their professional lives, including “The Club”, which holds an annual retreat. Read on to discover our favourite tips from Clarissa for a happier life in the law.
1. Nurture your relationships & social connections
"Shift your village to one that is good, that is encouraging, that is powerful."
Relationships and interconnections are at the root of our makeup as human beings: we are social by nature. When we deny ourselves this fundamental need - for example, by focusing on one aspect of our life (career) to the detriment of other areas - relationships suffer, and so does our wellbeing in the long term. By shifting our mindset to be more intentional in how we build and nurture our connections with others - family, friends, work colleagues, clients - we give ourselves more space for happiness.
Say "Thank you"!
The people you choose to surround yourself with - your "village" - are often a great source of support and ongoing motivation. Share your gratitude with them, and let them know they matter.
Hug your loved ones
Did you know that hugging someone releases oxytocin - a hormone that impacts our capacity to feel trust and empathy? So give your day a boost by sharing a hug (note: gift-giving is also a great alternative if you are not a hugger!).
2. Switch your mindset and adopt a 'glass half full' attitude
"Lawyers are more pessimistic than most people. But to be happy you need to be able to train yourself to see the good in situations, even when things are difficult."
Lawyers are trained to excel at identifying potential problems or issues and planning for the worst-case scenario. It is a great skill to have in the professional sense but unfortunately can impact how we perceive the world. The good news is that optimism is also a skill that can be built over time by training the brain to change our mindset in a particular context. Not only will switching your mind to see the "glass half full" help you see new opportunities and make you a happier person, but it will also help you build resilience; especially useful when dealing with stressful situations.
Count your blessings
Take a moment to practice gratitude daily: write a quick note in a notebook or involve your kids to make it a fun and shared experience. You will be surprised at how much impact taking a daily moment to reflect can have on your overall mindset.
Live in the moment
This is not about living "Carpe Diem" but about being mindful that every moment passes and must be lived through (even the bad ones). Look for the good in any situation and become more aware of what you are doing when you are doing it.
3. Take care of your health
"To be the best at what you do, you need to take care of yourself."
Healthy living is not a new concept, and most of us are aware of how exercise, good diet and sleep can benefit our general wellbeing. But, sometimes, it can look like a far cry from our busy and hectic day-to-day reality. Instead of trying to implement a new, full-blown health and exercise plan that is likely not to be sustainable or compatible with your lifestyle - start by slowly integrating healthy habits in your daily life and build up from there. You won't regret it!
Add light exercise during your day
You can add more movement to your day by taking up new habits such as scheduling a walking meeting with a colleague, practising your stretches while using the dictaphone, or getting off the bus one stop early to walk home.
Take care of your sleep
We might not all need the same amount, but restorative sleep is essential to maintain your health. Start by establishing set patterns around your sleep habits (for example by going to bed and waking up at the same times every day) and reduce noise and stimulation in the half-hour before going to bed (sorry, no mobiles or reviewing case files allowed!).
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