4 Ways to Stay Healthy While Managing Your Solo Practice

4 Ways to Stay Healthy While Managing Your Solo Practice

Last Updated: February 8, 2024

How many solo attorneys do you know that work a 9-5? The ones who eat well, work out an hour a day then sleep a solid 8 hours at night.

Can’t think of any? That’s because not many exist. Unfortunately, the stress and lack of work/life balance solo attorneys experience can translate into health concerns that should be addressed sooner rather than later. Not enough sleep, meals on the go, a lack of exercise – lifestyle factors like these can add up quickly for busy people, possibly leading to long-term health problems.

Solo attorneys struggle to focus on their health, especially in an environment where a 60-hour work week is a slow one. So let’s look at a few small changes that will relieve stress and help you feel better throughout the year.

1. Start With a Standing Desk

When I was practicing, I sat at my desk staring at a computer screen for hours at a time, only getting up to grab lunch or run to a meeting where I was, once again, sitting. In hindsight, a standing desk might have been a nice perk.

There are real health consequences to spending hours hunched over your laptop. Standing during the day can reduce the risk of lifelong diseases like diabetes and heart disease that are now related to a sedentary work life. You’re burning more calories while you stand and being fully upright may even help with productivity when you’re feeling sluggish.

A standing desk isn’t a life-altering change, but it’s an easy first step. (Especially compared to setting lofty goals like participating in your first triathlon.) Some suppliers even have return policies in case it’s simply not the right fit for you.

2. Set a Water Timer

How much water did you drink yesterday? (No, the water in coffee does not count.) I’m going to take a wild guess and say it wasn’t enough. When you’re busy it’s easy to forget that doctors recommend that you drink eight cups of water a day.

For many, drinking the water you need during your workday is, at best, an afterthought. Make it automatic with a timer that attaches to your water bottle. The one I use is made by the company Ulla. It monitors how often you pick up your water bottle throughout the day and blinks once an hour if you haven’t taken a drink.

It’s amazing how much better I feel now that I’m actually drinking enough water. Even a solo attorney multitasking on eight different projects can hydrate a little more when they’re reminded to do so. Again, it’s a quick and easy way to feel a little better through minimal effort.

3. Take a Few Deep Breaths

Ok, hear me out on this one. You may have preconceived ideas about the practice or perhaps you wouldn’t consider yourself the meditating type. Here’s the thing though, meditating for even ten minutes a day can help reduce stress, reset your mind and relieve anxiety.

Making this change doesn’t even require a gym membership or yoga mat. There are plenty of mobile apps like Calm and Headspace that offer guided meditation for as little as five minutes. These apps offer a virtual host to talk you through it all and offer a little encouragement.

Resetting your brain on busy days will help you focus on the tasks at hand. Even the least “mindful” among us know that taking a moment to relax before jumping into a pile of work is a good idea.

4. Don’t Do it All Alone

Solo attorneys often think they’re just that: solo. This mindset can easily trap you and wear you down as you try to do everything on your own. Fortunately, there are ways to spread the work around without hiring additional staff. For example, business development and marketing don’t have to take up all of your time or budget if you have the help of a legal directory or an expert on paid social media.

If you need a little more help, consider bringing a little more technology to your firm. A live chat service allows you to speak to more prospects even outside of normal business hours. Adding a client bill pay option to your website makes your firm more client-friendly and reduces the number of people you have to personally chase down for a payment. Personal assistant technology like Siri and Amazon Echo are now gearing towards business efficiency, and since these platforms are new they’ll only become more useful in the future.

A healthier lifestyle starts with small steps that require very little time commitment. Don’t bite off more than you can chew and I think you’ll find that there are options for even the busiest solo attorney.

Emphasizing Mental Health and Emotional Well-being

Recognize the Signs of Burnout: Solo attorneys, immersed in the demands of their practice, might overlook the early warning signs of burnout, including chronic fatigue, irritability, and a feeling of detachment from work. Acknowledging these signs is the first step toward addressing them. Incorporating a brief checklist or descriptions of these symptoms can help attorneys self-assess and recognize when it’s time to seek support.

Incorporate Stress Management Techniques: Beyond meditation and deep breathing exercises, there are numerous stress management techniques that can be tailored to individual preferences and schedules. This can include time management strategies to prevent work overload, setting professional boundaries to ensure personal time, or engaging in hobbies and activities unrelated to law for a mental break.

Seek Professional Support When Needed: Don’t overlook the importance of seeking help from mental health professionals when stress becomes overwhelming. This can include therapists specializing in professional stress, peer support groups for legal professionals, or even online counseling services that offer flexible scheduling for busy attorneys.

Learn more about how FindLaw is helping solo attorneys.

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