Downtime: Hobbies & Interests That Boost Your Legal CV

5 min read

Here are a few extracurriculars that can help you move your legal career forward.

Legal professionals don’t usually get much downtime. When you’re working in a high-pressure environment like a legal practice, it’s easy to spend every waking hour either at work, on your way to or from work, or thinking about work. While it may seem like dedicating your entire life to work is a good way to move your career forward, it turns out there are several benefits to cultivating a rich inner life and a variety of hobbies outside of work. Your hobbies can serve as outlets for stress, help you keep your mind sharp, and even give you an edge over competitors in the workplace. That’s right – with the right choice of hobby, you can have fun and boost your legal career. Here are just a few hobbies you can adopt that will push your law career forward.

Team Sports: Embrace Your Competitive Side

Team sports are a great way to blow off steam and work up a sweat. Apart from the physical benefits of exercise (which are considerable), you’ll have a great outlet for your competitive tendencies. Team sports can even serve as a networking function, introducing you to potential clients in a no-pressure, non-legal setting.

Team sports also offer a variety of cognitive benefits that help keep your mind sharp. Studies have shown that physical activity can improve memory, reduce the risk of dementia, boost cognitive flexibility, and enhance your thinking skills. One study in particular found that contracting muscle cells prompt brain cells to grow. Other studies have shown that exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which may render cognitive benefits.

Whether it’s hockey, volleyball, football, soccer, or something else entirely, a team sport is a great way to foster your competitive nature and give your brain a boost. By participating in a team sport, you’re not just working up a sweat – you’re working on your legal mind.

Meditation: Say Goodbye to Stress

Burnout is a serious problem in the legal profession. That’s why having a hobby that can help you manage stress and avoid burnout is critical. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a form of meditation invented by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a microbiologist by trade who combined Zen Buddhist teachings with scientific findings to create a program that reduces pain, alleviates anxiety, and improves brain function. The United States Military has adopted MBSR to improve the operational effectiveness of its soldiers.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction is all about bringing awareness to your experiences. Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “the ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

Mindfulness meditation involves being aware of your current state of mind, your thoughts, your feelings, and your environment – and holding that awareness without passing judgment or assigning meaning. For instance, if you’re feeling stressed at work, you may assign a negative meaning to that feeling of stress. You may allow your stress level to mean something about your professional capabilities or your emotional resilience.

But stress is just a feeling – it has no inherent meaning, either good or bad. You can choose instead to simply notice that you’re feeling stressed and let that feeling be what it is. By simply noticing that you’re feeling stressed, you put your rational mind back in the driver’s seat – and that means you get back to work quicker.

You can easily get started with a meditation practice using one of several mobile apps. Calm is a popular meditation app featuring meditations for sleep, mindfulness, and stress reduction. Meanwhile, Insight Timer offers a number of free meditations. And of course, Headspace offers a variety of different types of meditations to choose from.

Learning a New Language: Give Your Memory a Boost

Learning a new language is a great way to help your firm attract clients from other countries and enter new markets. It’s also a highly effective tool for enhancing your cognition and improving your memory.

Research shows that knowing at least two languages is associated with a longer attention span and better concentration than being proficient in just one language. While many of the studies on language and cognition are performed in children, studies in adults have confirmed these benefits as well.

One study even found that people who know multiple languages have larger brains than people who know only one language – and brain size is associated with intelligence and memory. Other studies have found that learning a new language helps to improve concentration, boost communication skills, and enhance creativity.

Learning a new language is one of the most effective ways to literally rewire your brain to be more effective. Whether it’s French, German, Chinese, Spanish, or something else, picking up an additional language could be the key to your next major career advancement. You can even use an app like Duolingo to learn at your own pace.

Creative Writing/Journaling: Level Up Your Writing Skills

Much of the legal profession involves writing – whether it’s drafting emails, writing up legal documents, or creating planning letters for clients, chances are you spend a lot of your workday writing. That’s why adopting a creative writing or journaling habit is a great way to keep your writing skills sharp and enhance your ability to express your ideas in written form. While keeping a journal may sound like a hobby for high-schoolers, it’s actually a great introspective device to help you organize your thoughts, build your emotional intelligence, and solve problems. You may not write the next bestseller, but you’ll give yourself the opportunity to just sit with your thoughts and resolve situations instead of reacting to them. Whether you prefer pen-and-paper or a piece of tech like Apple’s native journaling app, journaling and creative writing can be a unique outlet for your thoughts.

Working in the legal profession can be intense. Long hours and high-stakes projects can equal a great deal of stress. That’s why having some kind of outlet for your stress is critical. Whether it’s journaling, meditation, or team sports, committing to a hobby outside of work is a great way to manage stress, boost your cognitive skills, and gain an edge in the workplace.

The legal profession is stressful enough without having to deal with all the documents. You deserve an entity management and document automation partner that can keep up with your needs. Book your Appara demo today and discover how much time you can save.

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