Connecting for mental health
Well-being Week in Law: Social
Raven Ballard, PLPC
Lawyers are increasingly using technology in their careers. Technology use among lawyers will continue to increase due to cost effectiveness, productivity benefits, and ease of client access. But this rise in technology use is accompanied by the risk of disconnecting from those who are physically around us. We use technology all day at work, and awaiting us at home are smart phones, tablets, and a little TV to wind down after a long day. Technology, of course, is not a bad thing as it increases work effectiveness, allows us to remain “in the know” with local and international media, and lets us keep up with old pals we no longer get to see as often. However, it is equally important to be physically present in our lives.
An article released by the World Health Organization highlighted how increased screen time often replaces our healthy habits and behaviors such as physical activity and a good sleep routine. The article also addressed the potentially harmful setbacks of screen use, such as headaches, high blood pressure, and increased risk for cardiovascular issues. However, to switch to a more positive lens, an article published by the Association for Psychological Sciences has inferred that having perceived positive social connectedness increases one’s positive emotions, which directly impacts the region in the brain that controls stress, anxiety, and plays an important function in our overall mental health. The bottom line: being connected to those around us increases good mental health. Here are some ideas for increasing social connection:
- Schedule dinner with a friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with.
- Have a “screen free” hour at home. You can either do this by yourself or invite those living with you to participate.
- Look up local events happening in your area.
- Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer!
- Call your loved ones.
Brain break: Do you know someone in law school? Take a few minutes to write them a note of encouragement. The connection will feel great for both of you!
If you need to discuss how you could improve your social connectedness, the Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program is here to help! Please consult the Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program at 1-800-688-7859 for free, confidential counseling.
Chambers, A. (n.d.) How to unplug: Protecting your sanity from technology overload. https://mobar.org/site/content/Articles/Well_Being/How_to_Unplug__Protecting_Your_Sanity_from_Technology_Overload.aspx
Kok, B. E., Coffey, K. A., Cohn, M. A., Catalino, L. I., Vacharkulksemsuk, T., Algoe, S. B., Brantley, M., & Fredrickon, B. L. (2013). How positive emotions build physical health: Perceived positive social connections account for the upward spiral between positive emotions and vagal tone. Association for Psychological Sciences. https://www.mentorcoach.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Week-3-Reading-Kok-et-al-2013.pdf
World Health Organization. (2020). Excessive screen use and gaming considerations during #COVID19. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/333467/Screen-use%20-COVID19-eng.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y