The Alberta Lawyers Assistance Society, Assist, Forbes Psychological Services, and the CPA Assist
invite you to join the following series of free webinars:
Wednesday, April 29 - Laurie Zalmonowitz
Resiliency in Times of Uncertainty –
11 a.m. – 12 p.m. (MDT)
Registration details are found in the links for each seminar.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
WE ARE EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE
LAWYER WELL-BEING WEEK
Monday, May 4 - Friday, May, 8, 2020
(because it's your week, you get to take the weekend off)
To make WFH easier, this week in Virtual Yoga, we'll be learning the
Knee to Ear pose. It will make those Zoom calls that much more interesting.
JOIN YOUR COLLEAGUES FROM
ACROSS THE PROVINCE
FOR VIRTUAL NOON YOGA
12:00 PM - 12:50 PM
Once we get your e-mail, we will send you a Zoom invitation to join the class
RED MUG COFFEE CIRCLES
We are told that way back—in the 1970s—lawyers used to meet in Calgary on Friday mornings at the Bay coffee shop to chat and swap war stories. Young lawyers would come to hear the wisdom underlying the tales and to learn how to tell war stories too. I am sure that this type of event happened all across the province but it somehow died away as lawyers focused more on maximizing billable hours and docketing time.
We would love to see a return to the fellowship that morning coffee created. We would also love to create connections between all levels at the bar and bench who are making their way in the legal community to provide a little more mentorship and fellowship.
Please join us for online coffee and lunch (if you'd like) from 12:00 - 1:00 pm on Monday, April 27 —judges, lawyers, articling students and law students are all welcome. Our Executive Director, Loraine and Eileen, our Communications & Program Manager, will be on the call. Eileen has worked in law firms in Manitoba and Alberta for 40 years. They say she knows where the bodies are buried so you may get some war stories from her.
We will be meeting via Zoom. Please e-mail email@example.com to get the link.
LAWYER WELL-BEING WEEK
If Lawyer Well-Being Week weren’t scheduled for early May (May 4th to 8th), we would have had to invent it. Most of us are starting Week 7 of Working From Home (hereinafter defined as “WFH” or, as many prefer to say, “WTF”.)
When I set up my home office on Monday, March 16th, I thought we would be WFHing for 3 or maybe 4 weeks. It felt a bit like an adventure as I loaded my dual monitors and ergonomic keyboard into a box—kind of like going away to camp or on a bizarre holiday. My dog was delighted that I was home all the time and one of my biggest worries was how she would adjust when I went back to work downtown again, in 3 or 4 weeks.
I have to confess something—I am an introvert. I don’t actually mind WFH. My team meets every day at 1:15 on Zoom, and I have an office neighbour (my son who WFHs at my dining room table). And I have Tessa the Wonder Dog who follows me wherever I go.
Eileen, our Communications and Program Coordinator, is an extrovert, so I worry about whether Duchess and Colonel, the grand-dogs, can compensate for her need to connect with other beings in real life (although she does an amazing job of connecting to people online.)
We aren’t all feeling the pain equally, and we are all feeling different pain. Many lawyers have had their practices eviscerated. Others, fortunate enough to have jobs or clients, are struggling to parent young children while keeping their practices afloat. My life is relatively easy but after 6 full weeks, I have a lot of worries that are more pressing than how Tessa will adjust when—only it feels more like an “if—we go back to normal".
Let’s face it: we are under incredible stress. We are isolated—it’s called physical distancing, after all--and we know that isolation can be a precursor to depression. We hear that alcohol and marijuana sales are up. We don’t know what the long term consequences of all of this will be. We feel uncertain and powerless, that we lack control, because we don’t know how long the pandemic restrictions will be in place, we are powerless to impact the spread of the virus beyond our own households and we have no control over what will happen next. This is what sanity looks like in a pandemic.
Law is a stressful profession, and lawyers have a much higher rates of substance use and mental health issues than the general public.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Here is how the ABA presents pre-pandemic lawyer mental health research results:
This research, summarizing a survey of more than 12,000 lawyers, was conducted in 2016. It is consistent with Canadian, other American and international research.
Why are we a distressed population? Research suggests that there are many individual, job-related and work culture factors, including:
- Long work hours
- Work overload (too much to do in too little time)
- Perceived lack of control
- Low sense of belonging
- Rumination tendencies
- Sleep deprivation
- Junk food
- Low self-esteem
Perfectionism and negative explanatory style are not on this list, but are generally recognized to be key factors in lawyer personality that cause increased distress.
Now overlay a pandemic with mandatory physical distancing on top of these factors.
We need Lawyer Well-Being Week more than ever!
Please join us for Alberta Lawyers Well-Being Week: May 4th to May 8th
AssistCommunity Monday (May the 4th Be With You!)
Red Mug Coffee Circle at Noon
Assist began holding coffee circles two years ago and we rallied around red mugs as visible way to identify us in coffee shops. We moved online last week to ensure that lawyers who are feeling isolated as well as articling students and junior lawyers can connect to a supportive community.
It's as easy as e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org to get a link to our Zoom meeting for a chat with other lawyers and students about issues we are all facing. Or, if you are an articling student or junior lawyer and would like to chat one-on-one with a senior lawyer peer support volunteer, we can arrange a one-on-one discussion.
The only prerequisite to coming out is having an internet connection, but if you need to call in by phone, we can make it happen.
Because it is May the Fourth (Be With You), bring your favourite Star Wars paraphernalia or action figures and get your nerd on with us! Talking Star Wars is a great ice breaker (unless you say that episodes 1 to 3 are better than the original trilogy…)
And if you are a lawyer or student who is in recovery, you can connect with the Calgary and Edmonton Lawyer 12 Step Groups through online meetings. Email email@example.com to arrange an introduction.
Positivity and Creativity Tuesday (May 5th)
Research on lawyer happiness reveals that it is internal factors (authenticity, relatedness, integrity) that makes lawyers happy rather than the outward displays of success that our culture teaches us to value. We can’t deliver happiness in a day, but we can engage in positive activities that counteract negative emotions.
So how do we get these positive emotions? Through altruism and charity, expressing gratitude and engaging in the activities, and with the people, that you enjoy.
Join us on Tuesday to do random acts of kindness, express gratitude or engage in your hobby and share it on our social media. While anonymity can be a fundamental component of acts of kindness, you can still share what you did without details that would identify the recipient or their situation.
Many of our hobbies involve creativity—art, music, dance, writing. Click here to see a clip of a lawyer expressing his creativity through a COVID-19 song and video. Send us a photo of you doing your creative thing!
Physical Activity Wednesday (May 6th)
Even though we use our brains to make our living, we need to take care of physical bodies, too. Sitting for long hours is the new smoking—it is important to get up and move around. It is also important to be eating healthy food, drinking water, and getting enough sleep.
Join us for our free livestreamed yoga class at noon on Wednesday, taught by one of our lawyer-yogi volunteers. Click here to register.
If yoga isn’t your thing, check out our webinar called Fortify Your Core for 7 key exercises and strategies you can do while working from home.
We know that many home offices are not paragons of ergonomic virtue and that many of us have back aches, stiff necks and painful wrists. Physiotherapists can do an online ergonomic assessment to help you better position your home office.
Serenity Thursday (May 7th)
Mindfulness can help us cope with stress, anxiety and depression. Join Dr. Tamerai Moorthy, one of Assist’s psychologists, for a webinar titled Mindfulness in Turbulent Times.
If you are already a mindfulness practitioner, offer to bring short mindfulness sessions into your virtual workplace.
What else brings you a sense of peace and tranquility? Spirituality—however you define it—is important to many of us. Take time today to practice your spirituality. If you don’t have any spiritual practices, consider asking one of your friends or colleagues about their spiritual practice and how it makes them feel.
Anti-Anxiety Friday (May 8th)
Did you notice that many of our themes end in “ty”, which phonetically is “tea.” :
- Physical Activity
We will wrap up Friday with our Lawyer Well-Being Week signature event, the Anti-Anxie-tea.
Remember the old Reader’s Digest humour section called “Laughter is the Best Medicine?” Research shows that it is actually true. Laughter can help your body to return to its pre-stressor physiological state.
So think about your favourite lawyer joke (not malicious, just fun!) or funny story and join us at 3:30 pm on Friday, May 8, 2020 for a cup of tea and humour, and be ready for an open mic moment to tell your joke or story. No obligation—listeners are every bit as important! Register for the Zoom link by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find more Lawyer Well-Being Week resources and activities. Please share what you tried on social media.