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Burnout in Law: Symptoms and Prevention

Burnout is a term that is frequently tossed about, particularly in high-stress careers such as doctors, IT security, and lawyers. It’s a difficult and deeply troubling issue that can result in a mental disconnect from our work, friends, family, and health. There comes a point in every career when you must examine the stress and […]

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Burnout is a term that is frequently tossed about, particularly in high-stress careers such as doctors, IT security, and lawyers. It’s a difficult and deeply troubling issue that can result in a mental disconnect from our work, friends, family, and health. There comes a point in every career when you must examine the stress and frustrations that arise and decide if they are worth dealing with.

Core Symptoms of Burnout

Chronic Fatigue

Exhaustion is often simply a sign of poor diet or exercise, but if you find your fatigue lasts longer than a few days, or continues despite a lengthy vacation, this could be a major sign of burnout.

Cynicism

A healthy amount of cynicism is to be expected in law, but when that cynicism turns into nihilism or hopelessness, this may be a deeper issue. Feeling disinterested in work or that your work doesn’t really matter is a major facet of burnout.

Distraction

Even if you’re familiar with ADD or similar disorders that can affect attention span, you might be surprised that burnout can affect your attention control.

These are a few of the most important signs of burnout, but it’s worth noting that they are far from unique to the syndrome. Burnout is such a struggle to approach for that reason – oftentimes it is misidentified, or physicians are hesitant to label them burnout out of concern for missing other issues.

How to Prevent Burnout in Law

Find Meaning

If your personal values conflict with your work, you might find that this is a major cause of burnout. This can particularly be an issue in law when much of our work revolves around issues that are moral and ethical – and we don’t always have the luxury of identifying with our personal stances.

Relax Your Standard – A Little

Perfectionism is another major issue in the field of law. The practice can attract those ‘type A’ personalities that seek to put in absurd hours to achieve above and beyond. Knowing when to walk away from work is deeply important for mental and physical health. Also make time to relax, stop answering the phone and responding to emails after a certain time.

And most importantly, take your vacation days and use them to reboot and to help you create great memories which you can reflect upon while trying to struggle through the day.

Build Awareness

Meditation and Yoga are often advised for people in high-stress jobs not only because these are relaxing practices, but also because they build awareness. Know what your ‘usual’ body feels like and you might be more comfortable recognizing when your stress is too much.

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