By Ally Kennedy, Founder of AMIGA
Let's face it, law firms are not always a pleasant place to work. The stories about negative work environments, dog-eat-dog competition, and difficult personalities seem to outweigh the stories of uplifting and positive work environments. A negative work environment can infect the workers within it making people gossipy, vengeful, and burnt out. I have been there and it is exhausting mentally and emotionally. Because there were no solutions, I became part of the problem. It is a vicious cycle.
When I started my firm I decided I wanted to do things differently. I quickly realized that no matter what, we can't take the stress out of the job. There will always be difficult clients, last minute deadlines, and the Department of Homeland Security.
That is why I created the Mindfulness Break for my office.
Why Should We do a Mindfulness Break?
As lawyers, Secondary Trauma and burn out are extremely common. It is important to take time to nourish ourselves and our teams. These activities are more than team building. Rather it is time dedicated to bettering ourselves, our team, and our work environments. It helps increase customer service and job satisfaction. It also helps manage burnout and trauma.
What is a Mindfulness Break?
The Mindfulness Break is a 5-10 minute break that we take every 2 hours in order to set down our work and stress and pick up tools to help relieve and manage stress and create a more present moment. No phones or email are allowed to be on during the Mindfulness Break.
What Do You Do During a Mindfulness Break?
On Mondays before we start our weekly case review we create an inspiring phrase or "mantra" for the week. We write it into a journal and also make a sticky note for our workspaces. For example, "I do small tasks with great enthusiasm. My work is important and makes a difference in this world."
From there, our Mindfulness Breaks vary. Here are some examples:
Journaling : We each have a journal that we leave in the office to use for free writing during the Mindfulness Break
Reaffirming week's affirmation : If we are struggling with stress, we reaffirm the affirmation by saying it, writing it, discussing it, and just reinforcing it however we can.
Meditating : Sometimes I lead a meditation while other times we do silent meditation. I also like the Buddhify app for guided meditations.
Coloring : We use adult coloring books like "Color Me Calm" and "City Scapes" and have colored pencils for everyone to use. We set the timer and go at it. Sometimes we color silently or other times we catch up on one another's lives.
Walking : We try to walk the stairs together a few times a week. Otherwise, we walk the office or down to the coffee shop.
Tips to Making a Mindfulness Break Work For You
- Designate a "timekeeper" who will tell the team it is time for a Break
Go it alone! If you work alone or for someone who won't allow you to do this, use your phone to set a 2 hour timer and take the breaks yourself. You can come up with anything that you like and that is meaningful to you.
- Treat the break as important as all of your other priorities in the day.
- Adapt it. If you can't do it every 2 hours, aim for every 4, or once a day.
- Get creative! You can create a myriad of Mindfulness Break Activities. Ask your team for insight and ideas.
About your Ally in Life, Business and Law:
Alexandra "Ally" Kennedy is a national award-winning attorney and the founder of AMIGA Lawyers and Alexandra Kennedy Immigration Law.. After becoming a mother, and in a matter of 3 months, Ally transformed her practice from earning in pesos to earning 6-figures and she is passionate about teaching attorneys how they can do the same. Ally empowers lawyers to be the CEOs of their law firms with her weekly blog, webinars, and conferences where she teaches step-by-step how to do the work they love while running a profitable legal business. Ally lives outside of Seattle with her partner and their 5 children.