By Freedom Smith, Justin Olson, and Rhea Jones-Price, Leadership Development Academy Class 4 Members

Take a moment to evaluate your current level of stress with your job. Did your blood pressure just rise at the thought of an upcoming deadline? Or perhaps you felt a pang of annoyance at your boss, client or coworkers?

Almost all professionals have stress in the workplace. Indeed, in 2012 over 43 million Americans dealt with mental illness and even more dealt with other wellness issues. Numerous studies show that job stress is the major source of stress for Americans, and is costing business lots of money each year and affecting worker’s quality of life.  According to a 2015 working paper from the Harvard and Stanford Business Schools, health problems stemming from job stress can lead to fatal conditions that kill more people each year than diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or influenza.  People have the greatest impact, particularly at their professional jobs, when they are working at their best?physically, emotionally, and mentally. But when workplace stress takes a toll, many Americans find wellness elusive. Few professions or industries are exempt from these struggles.

Many professionals who waver under the pressure of their professional demands cope instead of thrive. Exercise and healthy eating take a back seat. And family and community can be neglected. Others suffer depression. In the worst cases, professionals adopt destructive coping mechanisms, like substance abuse. The consequences can be unfortunate for the professionals themselves, their families, and their employers.

Workplace wellness and mental health is indeed attainable. Here are some tips to begin reducing workplace stress, and maintain workplace wellness and mental health:

  1. Get enough sleep. Getting up to 7 hours of sleep a night greatly enhances concentration and reduces mood problems.
  2. Have a plan for consistent exercise and healthy eating. Incorporate time into your work day for a walk. Choose healthier foods for lunch and consider “brown-bagging.”
  3. Maintain a work-life balance. Find a non-career-related hobby and enjoy your free time.
  4. Find a mentor. Accountability helps.
  5. Recognize the warning signs of burnout.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Using these and other methods, many professionals have achieved wellness, and others who’ve struggled have made inspiring comebacks. All professionals have something to learn from these individuals. For that reason, the 2015 Class of the Indiana State Bar Association’s (ISBA) Leadership Development Academy (LDA) is hosting a seminar on mental health and wellness in the legal profession.

The seminar will help to raise awareness and open up discussions about the importance of wellness, highlight the dangers of neglecting it, and offer the stories of those who’ve learned how to attain true wellness. Presented at the ISBA’s annual conference, the seminar will take place at the French Lick Resort during the ISBA’s annual conference on October 7-9, 2015. To register for the event, visit http://www.inbar.org/events/event_details.asp?id=512835&group=.

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