10 Simple Ways to Add Self-Care to Your Day

If the pandemic has taught us nothing else, it’s that taking care of ourselves is critical. When the line between life and work gets blurred or disappears completely, it can be difficult to make time to show up for ourselves. This commitment can be especially challenging when we own and run a law firm. However, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t have a law firm to run. 

Wellness is a core element of everything we create here at A Different Practice. We believe law firms should support well-being, not destroy it. That’s why we’re sharing ten simple ways to add more self-care to your day so that you can consistently recharge and show up as the best version of yourself both in life and in your practice. 

  1. Start the Day Slowly Whether it means waking up a little earlier or being more intentional about the first hour of your day, waking up slowly and don’t immediately jump into work (personal or professional). The slow pace not only gives your brain time to fully wake up, but it also allows you to do some things that bring you joy. From truly enjoying that cup of coffee or listening to a favorite podcast, spending the first hour of your day to yourself is a great way to fill your energy tank to take on the day.
  2. Schedule Breaks Our calendars can fill up quickly. I don’t know about you, but if I’m not careful, there are some days I feel like I don’t have time for even a bathroom break. Instead of assuming you’ll have a few minutes here and there to take a break, don’t leave it to chance. Put an event in your calendar and – here’s the important part – keep it. Respect that event just like you would any other. You wouldn’t blow off a client meeting or court appearance. Isn’t your well-being just as, if not more, important? You don’t need to carve out big blocks of time. Just a couple of five-to-ten-minute breaks throughout the day will give you a moment to rest. 
  3. Fiercely Protect Your Time Time is our most valuable resource. You cannot buy more of it and once it’s gone, there’s no getting it back. Give yourself permission to set boundaries around your time. What time do you want to start and end each work day? Before and after those times should be off limits. Got a family event you don’t want to miss? Block it off and fiercely guard it that event. Think about this: At the end of your life, how will you wish you spent your time? Do that now. 
  4. Turn off Notifications You can get notifications for just about anything these days, and while some can be helpful, most are a distraction. From email to text messages, turn off all notifications that aren’t critical. If you find yourself getting distracted every two minutes as your computer dings with a new email or you’re constantly fighting the urge to check your phone to see what’s new, turn it all off. Turn off push notifications. Turn off badges. Turn off sounds. Whatever’s new will be there when you’re ready to actually engage. 
  5. Get Outside Have you heard the term forest bathing? It’s a Japanese term that embodies the idea of simply being in nature. The idea is not to do any movement like walking, but rather to simply sit surrounded by nature. According to Time, several studies have shown that simply being in nature for just a short amount of time has a positive impact on our health. It brings us into the present moment and allows us to de-stress and relax. Since most of us don’t have a forest nearby, we can still take advantage of the benefits of forest bathing by taking a moment outside. Sit still and listen to the sounds of nature, feel the breeze, and admire the beauty in the flowers. If you can’t get outside due to the weather, consider taking a few moments to sit still while looking at a natural landscape and listening to nature sounds. You may be surprised at how good you feel afterward. 
  6. Drink More Water Our bodies are made of about 60% water, so it makes sense that we need to stay hydrated. If you’re like me, however, there are days when dinner rolls around and you realize it’s the first time you’ve had water all day. Consuming water throughout the day will not only help you feel better but it can also help improve your brain function. I don’t know about you, but I paid a pretty penny for the knowledge in my brain, so I’d like to get my money’s worth! To drink more water, I started with an extra glass in the morning (during that first, slow hour to myself) and then increased over time. 
  7. Reflect When you’re in the middle of a big trial, dealing with a difficult opposing counsel, or just trying to get through the ever-expanding to-do list, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. The storm can feel unrelenting, and we can’t tell which way is up. I have found the most grounding thing I can do during these difficult seasons is take a few minutes each day to write down three things I’m grateful for. While of course, I’m grateful for big things like my health and my family, my gratitude practice is about find small things during the day. Things like the sound of my children’s laughter, the kind smile from the barista, or the exhale of relief my client made when I called with good news. Making it a habit of finding gratitude in the small things fills up your well-being piggy bank so that when the storms hit, you’ve got the reserves to make it through. 
  8. Pay Attention to How You Feel I know, I know. We’re getting into some mushy territory here, but hear me out. Our emotions, especially the uncomfortable ones, are often a signal that we have a need that isn’t being met. When I would feel the fire of fury rise up just from the mere existence of an email from a certain opposing counsel, I knew it was more than just having to deal with a jerk. I realized I felt like I needed to be available 24/7 because that’s how this other lawyer operated. Work was starting to seep into other parts of my day and erode my well-being. That feeling of anger was a signal that I needed to set clearer boundaries and protect my time (sound familiar?). Once I did, things got better. While it may take some digging and uncomfortable conversations with ourselves to unpack our feelings, doing so can help identify where we might be falling short of meeting our well-being needs so we can make a change. 
  9. Turn Electronics Off an Hour Before Bed Just like starting the day slowly can support your well-being, doing the same before bed can be a nice bookend to the day. Turning off all screens and letting our bodies and brains wind down helps us to recharge and quiet the noise. If I don’t create this buffer, my sleep is disrupted and filled with thoughts of what needs to be done. 
  10. Prioritize Sleep A good day always starts the night before. Somewhere along the way, it became a weird badge of pride in our profession to say you were running on little sleep. This is not a badge I wish to wear. You don’t need to read the countless studies that demonstrate the enormous benefits of sleep, just talk to a parent with a newborn. Sleep deprivation is no joke. Having experienced it twice when my kids were born, why anyone would choose to deprive themselves of sleep is beyond me. Sleep is critical to my well-being, so I make it a priority to get at least 7-8 hours a night. Of course, life happens and there are certainly nights when I’m up late working, but those are the exceptions, not the rule. If I want to show up each day with the energy to serve my clients well, it all starts with a good night’s sleep.

In the end, wellness is personal. While we encourage you to try some of our ideas, if something doesn’t work for you, toss it. Find something else. There’s no right or wrong here. What matters is shifting the narrative of wellness in the legal profession from something we do once or twice a year (maybe) to something we prioritize in our daily lives. If you want more ideas for how to incorporate wellness into your day or to share your wellness wins, we invite you to follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, and TikTok where we share our daily routines and have lots of fun along the way. Here’s to your wellness!