Bench & Bar

JUL 2018

The Bench & Bar magazine is published to provide members of the KBA with information that will increase their knowledge of the law, improve the practice of law, and assist in improving the quality of legal services for the citizenry.

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By: Yvette Hourigan K Y L A P D I R E C T O R Sure you're smart enough, but are you to practice? mentally fit | JULY/AUGUST 2018 50 S ignificant attention has been given to the high levels of dis- tress and the growing mental health crisis occurring within the legal profession. 1 e practice of law, with its soaring rates of anxiety, depression, addiction, and other mental illness, was deemed an unsustainable profession. e ABA/Commission on Lawyer Assistance Program Well-Being Task Force was formed to give guidance on how to right the ship and improve lawyer well-being. 2 Out of desperation comes willingness. More and more lawyers are becoming less willing to sacrifice their families and their health for the practice of law. ey're embracing healthier lifestyles and rec- ognizing that incorporating certain practices into their daily habits will improve their personal and professional lives and also help them avoid the deadly consequences of maintaining the status quo. ere are some fairly simple practices and habits you can commence that will improve your physical and mental health. Making a few changes now may minimize your risk of reaching a personal or professional crisis due to depression, anxiety, or addiction. In this and in coming issues of the Bench & Bar we'll discuss "the 3Ms": movement, mindfulness and meditation. We'll explore the benefits of incorporating these practices into your daily routine, including heightened resilience; reduction of your anxiety and stress levels; and improved complex decision-making. IS THE STRESS OF PRACTICING LAW REALLY THAT BAD? In a nutshell, conflict-based stress is bad for you. Very bad. It causes the brain to secrete hormones that harm the areas of the brain where depression and other mental health issues originate. e long-term effect? "If stress is chronic, repeated challenges may demand repeated bursts of vigilance. At some point the vigilance becomes overgeneralized lead- ing us to conclude that we must always be on guard—even in the absence of stress. And thus the realm of anxiety is entered." Dr. Robert Sapolsky, Lawyers with Depression, e Stress Depression Connection, May 11, 2008, www.lawyerswith depression.com. ere are basic changes we can make in our lifestyles at any age, which can be transformative for us, and can result in tremendous improvements in our mental, physical, and brain health. It's not just for younger lawyers, either. Middle-aged lawyers, those "baby boomers" who are quickly aging into the "silver tsunami" are fol- lowing suit. ey're doing so not just to improve physical health, but also to maintain mental acuity—and the conversation of how to improve the quality of our lives as lawyers and return to the time when we actually enjoyed the practice of law is expanding. All of the research and scientific studies indicate that we will perform better when we incorporate the 3M's into our lifestyle: MOVE- MENT , MINDFULNESS , and MEDITATION . In this edition of the Bench & Bar, our focus is on movement. Why? Because exercise makes you smarter. e Harvard Health Blog reports that regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory and thinking skills. In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and sweat glands pumping; appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. e hippo- campus and the amygdala are the areas of the brain damaged by chronic stress due to the over-secretion of hormones. It's proven that exercise helps reverse that damage, and helps maintain better brain health. KYLAP

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