Rainmaking Recommendation #240: How Are You Doing?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

This may seem like a strange Rainmaking Recommendation, but I have a question for you? How are you doing?

I ask because May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the first week in May is Well Being Week In Law (WWIL).  It’s also because mindset is probably one of the most important aspects of becoming a Rainmaker. 

This has been one of the most challenging times in our history for mental health. While I cannot speak for everyone, at first, being locked into my home affected me considerably.  Until recently, I only left my apartment to run errands when I needed items for my home and life. And even while masking up, disinfecting, and using hand sanitizer, still, I wound up contracting COVID twice (luckily, both times were very mild cases).  Now, before you ask why I didn’t have these items delivered, I decided for my mental health that it was necessary for me actually to go out and do my own shopping.

I have worked from a home office for more than a dozen years, and I have lived alone for a long time as well.  Many people used to ask me if I was lonely. And until the pandemic, my answer was always no.  I was alone but never lonely.  This was because when I did want to see people, I could go out. 

And then the pandemic hit, and for the first time in my life, I actually got lonely over these past 14 months. 

I am now fully vaccinated and feel a little more relief that I can go about my life with a bit more freedom.   Yes, I am still cautious, but I am also not as paranoid as I was for the past year. 

The legal industry has always had a mental health and substance abuse problem.  That’s not a news flash.  And it’s not a news flash that it’s gotten worse since the pandemic began.  Between the isolation, the fact that many attorneys are not only trying to meet billable requirements but also take care of children in their home, the loss of a true sense of work-life balance (which never really existed in the legal profession for those in Big Law and the Mid-Market), it is no wonder that the ALM’s 2021 Mental Health and Substance Abuse Survey shows that this year more lawyers are saying they are more depressed and anxious then they have been in the past.

I am not a psychologist or psychologist.  I’m just someone who has struggled with bouts of “situational depression” during my adult life. An event or trauma triggers situational depression.  And grief is one of those emotions that can cause a situational depression – the loss of a loved one (for me, it happened twice – the loss of my mother 20 years ago, and the loss of my father 3 years ago), or in the most recent case, the loss of our ability to come and go as we please.  And make no mistake; many are grieving for our “former” lives. 

And this is what many lawyers who have never experienced depression are likely feeling but cannot name it. 

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Bar, there is no stigma in asking for help.  One of the best posts I’ve read on this topic is from a friend, Lindsay Griffiths, the Executive Director of International Lawyers Network (again, not a psychiatrist/psychologist), entitled It’s Okay to Breakdown.   In it, she suggests that if you are feeling depressed or anxious that you seek professional help.  Although she wrote this post at the beginning of the lockdown, it is even more apropos today – because while we are beginning to see an end in sight, for some, it feels a long way away. 

So, I’ll ask again – How are you doing? 

And, it will behoove you to ask your clients, colleagues, and friends the same question. 

Your mental health is one of the most important things you can take care of, and if you are down, there are professionals you can speak to if you are experiencing mental health issues that seem overwhelming.  And there are small changes that you can make to make you feel better:

  • Watch a funny movie
  • Exercise
  • Play with a pet
  • Cuddle a baby
  • Meditation
  • Get out into the sun
  • Walk-in nature
  • Eat foods that can help elevate your mood (did you know there are foods like chocolate, salmon, leafy greens  that can boost endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine – these are the natural feel-good  chemicals in our body – just google it)
  • Self-care activities
  • Celebrate the little wins

Let me know, in the comments or by responding, what you are doing to feel good. 

To become a Rainmaker, you have to have the right mindset, which we will discuss later.  However, to get to that mindset, you have to be mentally healthy.

Take care of that first. 

And by the way, just in case you’re interested, I am and have been very happy over the past few months once I learned to deal with the pandemic in my own mentally and physically healthy way.  

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