According to an article published by CNN News lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression than non-lawyers.[note]Why Are Lawyers Killing Themselves?, Rosa Flores, CNN News http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/19/us/lawyer-suicides/index.html (Jan. 20, 2014).[/note] Often attorneys forget that we have to step away from our office, from our computers, from our phones, from our legal books and make some time for “me.” So the questions are how can we create that balance between work and our personal lives, and how can we handle the stress? Well, just like the law is not always black and white, neither are the answers. On Saturday May 30, 2015, the Osceola County Bar Association hosted a wellness tea sponsored by the Florida Bar and Celebration Health in attempt to get some guidance on finding the balance.
The event was held at Lyndees Bakery & English Tea Shop. The bakery served guest a delicious three course meal for brunch including: tea, cucumber sandwiches, quiche, and dessert. Attending the event were a range of non-attorneys, attorneys who have been practicing less than five years, and several attorneys who have been practicing more than five years. Patrick Faulk, Dr. Frank Stone, and Dr. Bush discussed the importance of finding the time to diet and exercise. They also provided tips on how to manage stress.
Three very well respected and accomplished attorneys also spoke to the attendees. Each one of them had a different background, different legal practice and all around different story. The stories these women were able to provide were personal, engaging, and relatable.
Karen Persis, president of the Young Lawyer’s Section for the Orange County Bar Association spoke about managing her own law firm and working with the community. She recently had to deal with the consequences of forgetting to balance her personal and work life. She urged the attendees to learn from her mistakes having found herself in the hospital. She now makes an effort to make sure she has that balance for her own mental and physical wellbeing.
The Honorable Heather K. O’Brien spoke about the need for exercise and having a support system. Judge O’Brien, a former athlete and inductee of the Colorado College Sports Hall of Fame discussed the importance of having realistic expectations. She stressed while it is important to find the time to exercise and eat right, do not to get so caught up with society’s unattainable standards. We all come in a variety of different sizes and weight does not define what is healthy and what is not. Judge O’Brien also spoke about how having a support system is not only crucial, but beneficial for your overall mental health. She candidly told attendees how having friends and family during her most difficult times has helped with stress management and emotional wellbeing.
Jo Thacker, Partner at Broad and Cassel spoke about the importance of finding time for yourself, even when you have children. Jo Thacker was recently honored by the Osceola County Bar Association when she received the Murray W. Overstreet, Jr., President’s Award for her community involvement over the years. She discussed what it was like raising her children, going to law school, and finding the time for herself. Every morning she wakes up early and walks with her neighbor. That time helps her to focus and conquer the day ahead. She also learned that it was important to let go of the things she could not control and decide what was important. Sometimes there was a messy house and that was okay. She also spoke about the benefits of being involved with the community which allowed her to create a wonderful support system, as she stated “a community helped raised my children.”
While I think finding the perfect 50/50 balance is like finding a unicorn, I do believe if we took the time to find it we could get pretty close. The Osceola County Bar Association would like to thank our sponsors of the event and our speakers for reminding us the importance of trying to find that balance for our physical and mental wellbeing.