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Personal Care During a Pandemic

Posted By Administration, Friday, May 29, 2020

Judge Ashleigh P. Dunston

“I hope this message finds you well and healthy” or “stay safe and healthy.” These two phrases have now become a staple in my email messages. In the past two months, our lives have literally been turned upside down in the blink of an eye.  I would’ve never thought that Friday, March 13, 2020 would be the last time that court would be held at full capacity, my kids’ last day of school/daycare, or I could freely go to the grocery store or mall without a mask. Things rapidly changed and we had to learn to adapt to sheltering in place, homeschooling, Zoom meetings, Web-Ex court hearings, loss of income, and fear of illness or death for ourselves and loved ones.  This has raised our already stressful profession to new levels leading to even stronger feelings of loneliness, depression, moodiness, loss of control, anxiety and depression, just to name a few.


Our profession is one of service where we are constantly giving ourselves to help solve other people’s problems, but the fact of the matter is that we can’t help anyone, including our clients, if we’re not protecting our own mental health. If we’re overwhelmed, burned out or stressed then we’re more likely to lash out in ways that we typically wouldn’t. This is why self care is so important, and here are few ways that we can maintain it:


  • Create a new schedule/routine.

    • Write it down, place it somewhere that you can see it throughout the day, incorporate breaks, and stick to it as much as possible.  Try to schedule a special and fun activity on the weekend that gives you something to look forward to and that will help break up the monotony.  

    • Strive for 7-8 hours of sleep nightly.

  • Limit your work hours.

    • Try to work for 8 hours maximum.  Give yourself grace if your work hours are not consecutive and you are having to take frequent breaks.

    • Don’t feel bad if there are some days that you’re not as productive as you would have liked.

  • Unplug from the news, internet, phone, social media, etc. daily.

    • This will give you a much needed mental break and there are times when you need to be inaccessible.  Not every email or text message warrants an immediate response.

  • Exercise and get fresh air daily.

    • Exercise is not only necessary for your health, but is also a great stress reliever.  If you feel like you don’t have time during the day, try waking up a little earlier and incorporating 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine.

  • Focus on the good.  

    • Focus on the things that you can control and the things that you are grateful for. This can be as simple as the fact that you woke up to see another day.  A gratitude journal is a great way to document what you’re grateful for each day and is something that you can look back at whenever you’re feeling down.

  • Reach out to friends/family.

    • If you’re feeling lonely or a need to socialize, schedule a call, virtual happy hour, or game night.  If you need some face-to-face contact and if everyone feels comfortable, grab lunch and meet at a park so that you can social distance and socialize while outside.


Most importantly, if you find yourself feeling hopeless, depressed, anxious, or are turning to addictive behaviors to cope, please don’t be afraid to ask for help. BarCARES is a confidential short-term counseling, coaching and crisis intervention program created as a cost-free way of helping attorneys locate assistance to deal with the problems that might be causing stress. To speak to someone immediately, please call 919-929-1227 or visit Another great resource is the Lawyer’s Assistance Program that helps legal professionals figure out what is not working in their lives and then provides guidance and on-going support for getting back on track. For more information, visit


Nobody knows when or how this pandemic will end, but please remember that your feelings are valid, you’re not alone, and you don’t have to struggle in silence!  We’re here for you!


Stay safe and healthy!

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