Feeling Exhausted Lately?, 0119 COBJ, Vol. 48, No. 1 Pg. 18

PositionVol. 48, 1 [Page 18]

48 Colo.Law. 18

Feeling Exhausted Lately?

Vol. 48, No. 1 [Page 18]

The Colorado Lawyer

January, 2019



A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work." —John Lubbock

Many lawyers complain of feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. The nature of legal work means that attorneys will spend most of their time responding to external demands that require mental focus and emotional energy. Over time, we can become depleted from feeling overwhelmed, experiencing anxiety or depression, becoming isolated, or feeling a general lack of love, joy, and happiness. The strain on our cognitive ability, emotional stability, and nervous system can create physical and mental illness, the potential for client harm, or at the very least, a compromised work product. Additionally, this unmanaged stress can compromise our relationships with friends and family.

Common Causes of Fatigue

Because of the large amount of pressure attorneys feel, many do not believe they have the time to deal with their personal stress or unhappiness. Thus we create a situation where we are "running on empty" for long periods of time. Below are some common causes of attorney burnout and fatigue. Do any of them resonate with you?

► Taking on many different roles, or wearing many masks, throughout the day. The more roles we take on, and the more personality traits we exhibit as we fulfill our responsibilities, the more exhausted we can become. In addition, many lawyers are in the "sandwich generation," meaning we are taking care of both our children and elderly parents while working and trying to manage personal relationships.

► Being micromanaged. When we feel like we don't have control over decision making—when we have to "dance to someone else's tune"—our physical health suffers. Whether at work or home, healthy environments support individuality and foster creativity.

► Neglecting to set boundaries. Many lawyers are people pleasers or perfectionists. But when we take on more than is realistic and healthy, and when we don't learn to say no when we need to, we ultimately experience burnout and resentment.

► Suffering from medical or emotional/ mental health issues. Exhaustion is a symptom of many common health issues (depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, diabetes, anemia, thyroid problems, sleep apnea, etc.). And when we are tired, it is even more challenging to engage...

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