It’s November, and the holidays are coming. For many, that means time spent with family and friends, tables loaded with sumptuous food, holiday decorations, and all the trappings of a Hallmark holiday. But that’s not how holidays are for everyone, including those who are grieving the loss of a loved one in the past year, those whose family relations are strained, those who are strained financially, among others. Multiple studies and surveys document the stress and anxiety brought on by the holidays, with one survey indicating that 88% of respondents considered the holidays the most stressful time of the year and Forbes reporting that one-third of Americans would rather skip the holidays.
As if the holidays are not stressful enough, many law students must cope with the pressure of studying for final exams and the exhaustion that follows. And practicing lawyers must rush to meet year-end deadlines and hope to have a chance to take some downtime. With the demands and fast pace of modern life, no one is immune from the challenges of creating the perfect holiday.
Our theme for the month of November is wellness. We should always be mindful of both our physical and our mental health throughout the year. No doubt, after the New Year, many of us will resolve to watch our diets, work out more, and develop better habits overall. But wellness is far more than getting enough sleep and cutting down on sweets. Now, during one of the most stressful times of the year, when unrealistic expectations, fatigue, and the demands on everyone’s time cause depression rates to spike, is a perfect time to be sensitive to our own mental and physical health.
As leaders and those who are training future leaders, we have an obligation to take care of ourselves and to model to those who we are training the importance of self-awareness and self-care. Our responsibility, however, goes beyond that. Our duty is to also be alert to the stress and anxiety our students or others we are training may be facing, recognizing that they may be unwilling or unable to acknowledge to themselves their struggles or may worry about the fallout of appearing weak.
Over the next few weeks, our blog posts will offer resources and suggestions for teaching and modeling wellness and self-care.