The Mindful Lawyer

By Jennifer L. Colagiovanni posted 08-05-2019 11:40


By now you’ve surely heard about mindfulness as a tool for reducing stress and being present in the moment. And while almost everyone can benefit from incorporating elements of mindfulness into their daily lives, it seems lawyers are particularly well suited to benefit from a mindfulness practice.

A recent article in the ABA’s Law Practice Today points out that, by nature or training, lawyers are constantly overthinking, reflecting, and planning for negative outcomes that may never arise. This causes stress, anxiety, and even general pessimism. Lawyers are taught to “stick to the facts,” advise their clients on the risks and realities of the situation, and work to find solutions to problems. It’s quite literally the nature of the job. It is also what makes lawyers prime candidates to benefit from incorporating mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the practice of being present. Mindfulness can improve our ability to reduce stress by keeping us aware of what is happening in the present and at the same time, not overthinking about the past or the future. This allows us to harness the power of our thoughts. Thoughts control emotions, and emotions often control our actions. So by harnessing the power of our thoughts, we can change our responses (or reactions) to challenging situations. Like yoga, mindfulness is a practice, and by practicing this intentionality with our thoughts at different points during our day, we will stay more present.

Interested in dipping a toe in the mindfulness pond? Here are some easy ways to incorporate a few minutes of mindfulness practice into your daily routine.

  • Start your day doing something you enjoy. Take a walk. Exercise. Read a chapter of a book. Listen to a song you love. All you need is a few minutes.

  • If the idea of meditation seems daunting, started with a guided mediation. There are a number of free guided meditations available online. Do you use a smartphone? Download a guided meditation app. Wear a smartwatch? Many smart watches can remind you throughout the day to take a minute or two to focus on your breath.

  • Get outside in nature. A recent study found that spending 20 minutes in contact with nature provides measurable reductions in levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And it’s the perfect time of year in Michigan to get outside for a quick 20 minutes.

  • By shifting your thoughts to gratitude, you become mindful of what is going well instead of focused on what is going wrong. Try ending each day with writing down what you are grateful for. Over time, writing about and practicing gratitude will allow you to feel more grateful in the moment.

  • Whether it is from email, Twitter, or Facebook, it is important to unplug for a time to be present in the moment. Plus, we already know that blue light from our phones totally messes with our sleep.