When you are facing difficulties, going through recovery, or looking for support, there are resources available. Contact a lawyer volunteer from the Peer Support Network .
Check our listing of Peer Support Volunteers and Support Groups on this website.
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If you are in recovery and need a little encouragement that you can handle this crisis, check out this inspirational article by Laurie J. Besden, Esq., Executive Director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers of PA, Inc.
Any situation involving uncertainty and unfamiliar territory naturally elicits fear and anxiety – we’ve evolved that way because it serves a survival function. A moderate level of anxiety can elicit a state of greater alertness and readiness to maneuver, while a high level can be immobilizing. In the current circumstance, we have two concerns: (1) our health and that of those we care about; and (2) our financial safety, with regard to impact on work and income, not to mention retirement funds.
We don’t want to pretend everything is fine and ignore precautionary steps, and we also don’t want to panic or stir up an undue degree of fear in our clients, family, and friends. Two of the best-known concepts in 12-step programs — which were around long before programs — are very useful to our emotional infrastructure in any overwhelming circumstances:
- THE SERENITY PRAYER is a cognitive tool as much as it is a prayer. It reminds us to accept what we cannot change, since there is no other option and worry itself doesn’t accomplish much, and also to recognize what’s within our power. In the case of this virus, you’ve likely heard most of what’s in your power – avoiding crowds, keeping a certain physical distance from others, washing your hands a lot, trying not to touch your face — good luck on that one. Find Expert Tips on COVID-19 Best Practices here.
- ONE DAY AT A TIME is really the only manageable way to get through a crisis situation. That doesn’t mean we don’t look ahead and make plans (I am actually in the position of canceling a cruise booked for May), but that we get through one day and then the next, because attempting to somehow cope with all the tasks and emotions we’ll experience throughout the situation upfront is impossible.
Other coping popular recommendations include to:
- Limit time spent exposing yourself to the news. A couple of times a day will keep you sufficiently informed, and especially now, the news is 90% Corona concerns to worry about. And avoid unreliable sources — what you hear from the CDC and on local network news is probably worth listening to. Immersing yourself in this stuff all day can create the sensation that awfulness is the only thing happening, and it isn’t.
- Pay attention to your mind and body. It’s still a good idea for your mental health to get exercise — in your home or outdoors is probably better than in a gym, plenty of yoga and home workouts are available for free on YouTube and other platforms. Maintain a practice of relaxation, calm breathing, and/or meditation. Find Mindfulness Essentials for Lawyers and Law Students here.
- Find ways to get an enjoyable respite from worry. Consider talking with loved ones, humor, reading, journaling, streaming entertainment, learning a new skill or hobby, taking an online course, etc. Find Self-Care Tips for Lawyers and Law Students here.
- Maintain your daily sustaining rituals that don’t incur risk. Again, safe options include meditation and prayer, connecting with friends, mealtimes, taking a walk, and doing your job in a regular way to the extent that you can. Keeping the same kind of schedule as you would in the office can help when working from home.
- Remember that, although this crisis is new to us and generates much uncertainty, we have the power to cope. We’ve faced other alarming disruptions – epidemics, 9/11, etc. – some of us are old enough to remember the gasoline shortage of the early 1970s, and we got through them. Each time, we learned a lot and expanded our capacity to cope.
MENTAL HEALTH DURING PANDEMIC.
For those who struggle with mental illness, the outbreak can be even more difficult. National Association for Mental Illness online support groups can be found here. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance has online support meetings here.
For Suicide/Crisis: Free, confidential 24/7 support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for oneself and others is available through the Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800.273.TALK.