Studies show lawyers are particularly susceptible to unhealthy lifestyle choices. Here are some easy tips from self-employed lawyers who have made healthy living a priority.
According to a study conducted by the Forum for Health Economics and Policy, working in excess of 40 hours per week increases your chance of being overweight. A mere 10 extra work hours are associated with a weight gain of 2.5 pounds. Those who are married and work white collar jobs are at even higher risk.
There’s evidence that lawyers are particularly susceptible to unhealthy lifestyle choices. A study conducted by the American Bar Association and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation revealed that 36 percent of lawyers engage in hazardous drinking or possible alcohol dependence.
“I haven’t seen a professional population out there with a higher level of problem drinking,” says Patrick Krill, an attorney and the study’s lead author.
You would think that self-employed lawyers, who have more control over their schedule than their firm-employed peers, would find the time to make better lifestyle choices. That’s not always the case.
The additional management and marketing responsibilities, combined with the pressure of making the practice profitable, can distract self-employed lawyers from making healthier choices.
“I actually found it easier to eat better and maintain a regular exercise regimen when I worked for someone else,” says corporate attorney and Law Firm Suites founder, Stephen Furnari. “The moment I became self-employed, I felt like there were more urgent things that needed to get done with my spare time, like finding paying clients.”
Grabbing a drink at the end of a long day requires much less time and effort than going for a run or heading out to the gym.
We checked in with a few busy lawyers who find time to make health a priority. Here’s how their professional lives have benefited:
Get More Sleep to Lower Stress
It isn’t a secret that stress affects health and productivity, and there’s no shortage of it in small firm practice.
The 60+ hour work weeks add up and take a toll. The adversarial nature of the work can be toxic, and there’s constantly a lot on the line.
New York commercial litigation attorney Frank Monteleone believes that a healthy person has more energy and does everything better. “Exercising greatly improves my mental focus, it’s also a healthy way to work off stress,” says Monteleone.Stress affects health and productivity, and there’s no shortage of stress in small firm practice. Click To Tweet
But there’s an easier solution to lowering stress: simply get more sleep.
According psychiatrist John J. Ratey, getting eight hours and 15 minutes of sleep every night might be the most important part of staying healthy. Dr. Ratey is an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and has written several books on exercise.
Even if eight hours of sleep is not possible, any additional sleep you get will have a positive impact.
Find Time For Exercise
For some, merely finding time for exercise is more challenging than the exercise itself.
Attorney Philippe Andre has been exercising regularly since he was 21 years old. He has made a habit to be active every single day. It is ingrained in his life.
Being a habit doesn’t mean he always has time to exercise. “I make the time,” says Andre, “I have to carve out the time for exercise.”
Even though Andre makes working out a mandatory part of each day, he understands how it could be difficult for attorneys to start a more active lifestyle.For #lawyers, finding time to exercise can be more challenging than the exercise itself Click To Tweet
“In the beginning it is hard,” says Andre. “You have to grind it out at first, then eventually you will be upset when you don’t do it [exercise] for a day.”
Changing your lifestyle is challenging. But finding an exercise that you enjoy can make it easier to keep up with.
Easy Tips to a Healthier Lifestyle You Can Begin Today
These four tips only require slight changes to your current schedule, but have the potential for resounding effects on your overall health.
- Drink more water. Drinking more water will help your body to reduce headaches, sores and the urge to snack. On average you should drink at least 64 ounces of water per day (and no, coffee does not count).
- Bring your lunch from home. Having a proper diet is essential towards being healthier. It may be easier to go pick up something to eat, but if you take time to pack a lunch you will be getting a proper meal while avoiding unhealthy foods and overeating.
- Devote time every day for exercise. Taking time out of your busy day is difficult. Try scheduling time in your calendar for exercise, and keep the appointment with yourself as if you had a client meeting or court appearance. By scheduling exercise in advance, you can manage your day without neglecting your firm or your health.
- Take a multivitamin. Keep a bottle of vitamins at your desk or someplace else where you will see them every day. Taking a multivitamin is a quick and painless routine that will improve your health.
The Result, Increased Productivity
Taking time to exercise can positively affect your productivity, something small firm attorneys are constantly chasing.
New York matrimonial lawyer and marathon runner Gail Bader finds exercising to be a great way to keep her productivity high.
“Running helps me to stay calm and lowers my anxiety level,” says Bader. “It instills mental discipline and commitment, which helps my work life.” According to Bader, physical exercise helps to balance out the effects of an attorney’s intellectually demanding work, in addition to balancing out the effects of sitting in a chair for eight hours.
Being active is a great way for many people to relax and clear their mind. Making the effort and sticking to it will help you to lead a healthier, less stressful and more productive life.