The Telomere Effect And How Lawyering May Be Affecting You

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Most of us simply think that our youthful look is due to good genes; maybe it is. Perhaps you really, really take care of yourself and maintain your stress levels low. Research in the area of chronic stress reveals that prolonged high-stress levels ages us down to the cellular level affecting the telomeres.[1] Telomeres are a protective casing at the end of a strand of DNA. They keep your DNA safe. Each time a cell divides, it loses a few its telomeres. An enzyme called telomerase can replenish it, but chronic stress and cortisol exposure decrease your supply. When it is depleted, the cell often dies or becomes pro-inflammatory. Cell death sets the aging process in motion, along with various health risks.[2]


The Telomere Effect

Simply put, how you look and feel is a direct result of the amount of stress on your body and cells. The Telomere Effect is a revolutionary approach to living longer, healthier lives. So if you need a mental health day, TAKE IT! People within the legal profession keep many secrets, work many hours, and lose a lot of sleep – a recipe for cell death if you ask me [not that you were, but I’m telling you anyway].

A burnt-out attorney is not good to anyone, at least not for long. Today, millennials focus on work-life balance as they progress in their careers. That is a good thing since chronic stress has been repeatedly shown to have serious physiological consequences. Now those consequences go deeper, to a molecular level.

Resistance to Rest

Many lawyers have a strongly-held belief that they cannot take any time to rest and recharge. Attorneys may save the day, but they are not indestructible and they need to assess their emotional status to maintain balance. Legal practitioners need to take advantage of personal days to recharge.

And while law firm partners know the stress levels all too well, many firms are not yet at the level of appropriate empathy and understanding of their attorneys’ need for mental health days. A burnt-out attorney is not good to anyone, at least not for long.

Taking mental health can be a great way to help you evaluate how far along an attorney is before they become a statistic—an attorney with serious mental issues due to work-related stress.

There is a difference between taking a mental health day off to recharge versus taking them continuously just to survive yet another day at the office. Subscribe to the Leopard Blog for discussions on wellness, diversity, law firm insights, and other relevant topics.

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