By Dierdra Howard • August 04, 2017•Writers in Residence, Issues, Balancing Private and Professional Life
I am responsible for my own peace and will find breathing space regardless of my surroundings.
It’s August and many of us are packing up and heading out of town for family vacations, reunions, or much needed solo retreats. August’s sleepy energy beckons us all to slow down. In one way or another, we all lead hectic lives. Whether you are billing hours, applying for a second-year associateship, preparing for trial or navigating maternity leave, the legal profession presents unique stressors. The stress associated with balancing our personal and professional lives is a constant we can anticipate will continue; however, that does not mean we cannot control how we manage the chaos.
Last summer I was in an all too familiar position. One of my colleagues left the office for a new position and I was tasked with managing my former colleague’s workload until a replacement could be hired. In addition, I was placed in charge of the hiring committee for his replacement, which meant quite a bit of additional work. Taking on additional duties, while trying to hire and maintain my own work needless to say presented significant stress. Although I could not control the flow of work or my responsibilities, I could control how I managed all of the competing priorities. Yes, I had some long days, but what made them manageable was that I respected my need for separation of duties and space. Every day during lunch I would eat away from the office and take a thirty-minute walk outside. I made sure I stuck with it regardless of work demands. This breathing space was my saving grace during a very challenging time that had the potential to wear on me both physically and mentally.
Finding breathing space, even for five minutes a day, can provide you with the clarity and energy to tackle the challenges life presents. Additionally, breathing space gives you perspective as to what is actually a priority and what is just noise and mind chatter.
Find breathing space during the day. Start small! There is no requirement that you conduct hour long mediations sessions at your desk. Take a five-minute walk around your office several times a day, arrive to work earlier than your colleagues so you can have a few moments of quiet before starting your work, or have a quiet, solo lunch instead of eating with colleagues. Fitting in this time is a sacrifice, but your peace of mind is worth it. Challenge yourself to find opportunities for breathing space throughout the day that work with your schedule and work environment.
Explore a mindful workout. Whether its free yoga online, a quiet solo walk or tai chi in the park, challenge yourself to find an activity that quiets you and allows you to go inside of yourself.
Asana of the Month:
Measured Breath: This breath exercise can easily be performed anywhere to help you find breathing space. Inhale deeply through your nostrils to the count of four, then exhale slowly through your nostrils to the count of eight. Repeat for at least two minutes.