If you are a legal professional, you’ll probably agree that nine out of ten law firms are very serious places.
This is particularly true if you’re part of a litigation practice. As trial dates draw near, the attorneys are increasingly on edge; and we all know that “stress flows downhill to fall on the shoulders of the professional staff.”
While you may not be able to change the status quo in that regard, there are things you can do to make your legal support job more fun from day to day.
Here are our favorite workday fun-infusions:
Take a hike
Well, maybe you don’t have time to take a full-blown hike during your workday but going for a quick walk is likely to help your mood.
In fact, walking is good if you’re tired, bored, stressed, angry, or overwhelmed. It can do wonders for your body and soul with just a few minutes of walking.
Of course, many of you have bosses who look at you sideways if you leave the building for even a moment. If that’s the case, try doing things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator every morning.
The truth is, every little bit of cardio you can squeeze in will help you feel better throughout the day. It might not be your idea of a good time, but it really does do a lot for your overall mood.
Laugh it off
Have you ever been in a super-stressful situation and then busted out laughing when something unexpected happens?
It feels good, right?
That mental and emotional boost you get from laughing is no joke (pun intended). Even the Mayo Clinic recognizes that laughter is an excellent tool to combat stress.
Try doing something like printing out your favorite hilarious memes each weekend and taping them up around your workspace on Monday. Chances are, they’ll keep you laughing all week long and will probably keep your co-workers chuckling too.
(Just remember to keep those memes suitable for work, of course.)
Try not to go down the rabbit hole of scrolling on your phone at work, but you can also consider taking a break and watching a few minutes of your favorite standup comedian or some entertaining cat videos on YouTube.
Practice being grateful
We all know it can be hard to feel grateful when a stress-mongering boss is breathing down your neck. In fact, that kind of stress can cause you to suffer physically and emotionally.
Did you know, however, that practicing being grateful can completely rewire your brain in ways that make you more healthy and happy?
The key to this tip is consistency.
Take time (perhaps at the start of every workday) to write down all the things you are grateful for. They don’t have to be related to work. You can write about your dogs or your favorite song or whatever it is that brings joy to your life.
Interestingly, if you do this regularly enough, it will actually change the way you relate to the world. Indeed, you may surprise yourself by actually enjoying that stressful workplace of yours.
Or not, but that’s another blog post.
A league that’s not your own
We’ve already established that exercise is good for your stress level…but what if you’re not the only one at work who needs to cut loose?
Consider forming a workplace team that competes in a local league. Not only will the exercise benefit everyone involved, but you may find that everyone who participates suddenly gets along better at work. After all, it will give you something in common to talk about at the watercooler.
Moreover, it will give each of you a shared place to project your stress – i.e., toward the opposing team.
Get yourself a stress buddy
I’m going to let you in on a little secret about law firm dynamics: nobody likes that one coworker who runs around complaining to anyone who will listen about how stressed out they are.
You know why?
Because everyone at your firm is stressed out, and one person’s constant complaints to everyone ends up helping no one.
That said, we all need to vent from time to time. So, who do we turn to?
Why not get yourself a stress buddy? This will help in a couple of ways.
First, it will give you a designated person to turn to when your stress becomes overwhelming.
Perhaps more importantly, that person will also have you to turn to when they’re struggling. You may be surprised how good it feels to help someone else in that situation.
You might even consider sharing some of those hilarious memes with your stress buddy. Laughter will do you both good. Pick a coping mechanism that works for each of you and remind one another to reconnect with your fun side.
Design for fun
When your job becomes overwhelmingly stressful, it can be hard to convince yourself to get up and go to that space day after day.
One way to make this sort of work environment more fun is to design your space for fun feelings.
While most law firms won’t let you go crazy with the decorations, you can do little things like bring in some plants, hang pictures of your loved ones, or use a wall calendar with pictures of your favorite vacation spot.
Whatever you choose, just be sure to stop and appreciate those little personal touches throughout the day. If they’re not working for you or start to become too familiar, switch them out. A little bit of seasonal decoration can make you feel more connected with the changing seasons and life outside of work.
We all know that law firm life can be as rewarding as it is stressful. That said, there’s nothing wrong with taking these intentional steps to infuse your workplace with a little fun and frivolity. Enjoy!