Take Care of You

Remember to monitor your physical health too


Take Care of You

Healthy eating and regular exercise are well-understood to be two key components in our preventative health care toolkit to benefit both our physical and mental health. There are all kinds of apps, resources, and services that offer assistance to improve and sustain smart practices with respect to food and activity. You know this.

Despite our best efforts to “be healthy,” the reality is that the body is a complicated constellation of systems that can be compromised at any time in our life, and we often are unaware of those developments. It is only when we have a diagnostic test that we learn we have, for example, diabetes, cholesterol irregularity, or high or low blood pressure. Auto-immune conditions can be difficult to diagnose and require both diagnostic tests and observations of other symptoms over time.

In other instances, we notice symptoms like headaches, pain, weight loss or gain, and rapid heart rate. Too often we convince ourselves “it will pass,” “it’s just stress,” or “I don’t have time to see a doctor.” Many lawyers have an obsession with time. We fear anything that denotes “weakness” and we all have a sense of responsibility to our clients and workplaces. Given all of that, these types of responses may be typical, but they aren’t helpful. We need to maintain good health to have the capacity to energetically practice law and care for our families, friends and communities.

For some of you, the following statements will be obvious. For others, perhaps, this is a gentle push in a positive direction, or reinforcement that what you want to do is a good thing. It is not a sign of weakness to take responsible steps to assess and monitor your health. It is appropriate to adjust your work availability to keep health-related appointments be that the doctor, counsellor, audiologist, or any other health professional, especially when those professionals are only available on limited hours like 9-3 or have waiting lists. If you have a short-term illness like a cold or flu, it is appropriate to stay home rather than distract, or worse, infect, your co-workers. You won’t do your best work when your health is compromised.

If you do one thing for yourself this year, get an assessment of your physical health, including diagnostic tests to address age-related considerations. If you are experiencing symptoms, even if you think they are inconsequential, tell your doctor anyway. The last time I checked, none of us were both practising lawyers and practising medical professionals. Just as you want your clients to tell you everything and accept your professional assessment and advice, you should be able to trust your doctor to share everything and accept their assessment and advice. And if you don’t, find someone you can work with.

If your results give you information that affect your health, take steps to deal with it. Adjust that food/activity combination. Take medications that are prescribed. Do more tests. Have your doctor monitor you more frequently. Ignoring and procrastinating won’t help. You are important to a lot of people. We need you to be as healthy as you can be. Create the space to do what needs to be done.

If there isn’t anything to change, great! Make sure you do another check in if you have unusual symptoms or in another few years.

When the opportunity arises, be supportive of your colleagues’ maintenance of their health. Talk about your health if you feel comfortable doing so. While privacy is an important value to protect and respect, normalizing discussions about our health helps us improve our knowledge about treatments and health care providers, and offers support to those facing health challenges. We will all be healthier as a result.