Mental health management should be adopted from the very beginning of our legal journeys to prevent mental health crises before they materialize and to better handle our sometimes inherently stressful careers. While everyone manages mental health differently and should explore what works for them, in the spirit of Lawyer Well-Being Week, here are a few easy and holistic methods for stress management.

By: Sumer Jafri, Junior Legal Counsel at


It is common knowledge that law is one of the most mentally straining professions in the world. I remember the first day of orientation in law school – we had a presentation about the prevalence of alcoholism, substance abuse, and suicide among lawyers, and how to manage the burn out, stress, pressures, anxiety, and other mental health issues that come with the privilege of being a lawyer. It felt like there were multiple “Proceed with Caution” signs flashing before me throughout those first few days of law school.

The reality of the mental health crisis within the legal profession is that it has unfortunately only gotten worse over the last 5 years. Recorded depression cases have escalated from 31.17% in 2019 to 38.27% in 2023, while anxiety rates have shot up from 63.95% in 2019 to a peak of 71.10% in 2023. These statistics alone underscore the urgent need for lawyers to proactively prioritize their mental health.

Mental health management should be adopted from the very beginning of our legal journeys to prevent mental health crises before they materialize and to better handle our sometimes inherently stressful careers. As a young lawyer myself, I thought I’d share a few of my personal stress management tips and healthy habits that help me prioritize my well-being and mental health on a daily basis.

While everyone manages mental health differently and should explore what works for them, in the spirit of Lawyer Well-Being Week, here are a few easy and holistic methods for stress management:


1. Physical Relaxation and Exercise

Whether it’s a few minutes in the morning, before bed, or between tasks, taking a moment to physically ground yourself in the present through breathing exercises, meditation, or physical movement may help take your mind off of that complicated agreement amendment, settlement negotiation or closing looming over you. While things around you may seem chaotic and moving a mile a minute, taking a moment to pause and reflect on your physical presence helps to slow down tour thoughts, regulate your breathing, and relax you enough to parcel through your to-do list more clear-headed.


2. Make a List

Speaking of to-do lists, try to start each day, or week, with a written list. I find physically writing with a pen and notepad also helps with tip #1, and allows you to slow down momentarily, disconnect from your screen, and focus on the present moment. For the days I feel especially overwhelmed or the unwelcomed self-criticism tries to creep its way into my mind, I like to create a list that is broken into three parts: past, present and future:

Past: I like to remind myself of what I have accomplished to get where I am today. Whether those achievements are as big as “I made it through that tough learning curve and know so much about commercial contracts” or as small as “I meal-prepped all of last week and only got take-out once!” This is your personal space to hype yourself up and be your own cheerleader.

Present: This is where I write down what I am presently grateful for. We often forget to appreciate what is in front of us when we are wrapped up in upcoming deadlines, fearful outcomes, or managing external expectations. Even if it’s your pet, or your new espresso machine that lets you have that perfect latte whenever you like, remind yourself of what you have and appreciate around you!

Future: As lawyers, we are inherently high achievers. Getting called to the bar was my biggest goal and dream for most of my conscious life. The years of hard work, studying and stress led up to that moment and I felt so incredibly proud and accomplished when I finally made it. But soon after, I felt a panic settle in. I no longer had those clearly defined prerequisites or detailed instructions on how to achieve my next goal. I knew where I wanted to be career-wise and where I saw myself in the future, but it was up to me to do the grunt work in figuring out how to get there. Writing out my future objectives continues to help me define and map out my path and next steps, making my future goals become real and attainable.


3. Talk to People

Sharing your experiences and opening up about your challenges and struggles can do absolute wonders. Of course, a caveat to that is to do so in the appropriate setting and with the right people (no one likes unsolicited trauma-dumping)! Whether it is through professional therapy, or over a casual coffee with a friend or colleague; sometimes problems that seem unconquerable or specific to you and only you are actually common and shared experiences and can be easy to overcome if you take a step back, change perspectives, and creatively problem solve with the help of someone you trust. Our problems are often much smaller than they seem, and bottling them up can ultimately lead to one spiralling. Asking for advice or external input can be an essential part of being able to face and overcome challenges head on – big or small.


As always, everyone’s mental health journey is extremely personal and unique. While daily habits can alleviate some symptoms, it is incredibly crucial to seek professional help if you find yourself struggling with your mental health. Lawyer Well-Being Week is an important reminder to give yourself grace, acknowledge the challenges that often come with the legal profession and to be proactive about prioritizing your mental well-being. It is also a time to emphasizing the need for more mental health support and initiatives throughout the legal profession and reflect on alleviating the stressful and pressure-filled environments that lawyers are often faced with as a whole.