VOLUME 39, ISSUE 8
Law firms always have grappled with the profession’s dark side, such as high rates of depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, divorce and suicide. To that list, we must now add the novel coronavirus.
The health, safety and welfare of Panitch Schwarze Belisario & Nadel employees, clients, vendors and friends is of the utmost importance to our firm. Since the pandemic was declared in March, we have been operating remotely, but wellness still plays an integral role within the firm. That’s why we offer a program to provide our team members with the tools and resources to empower them to be healthy in mind, body and spirit.
Launched in 2019, the Panitch Schwarze Wellness Program is open to all our team members — attorneys and professional staff alike. In 2020, we had planned to grow and expand the program through a partnership with Prasada, an organization that offers workplace wellness programs. When the pandemic hit, we had to adjust our plans.
We shifted gears from in-person classes to all virtual sessions, but canceling these sessions was not an option. Wellness classes are more relevant than ever, as our team is adjusting to home being work and work being home. Working at home makes it far too easy to sit at the computer all day; there is no driving away and “leaving the office” to give structure to the day and ease transitions between worlds. In these new circumstances, focusing on stress relief and learning to practice gratitude and mindful movement can help you become more aware and enjoy life more. Even while operating remotely, we have held bimonthly classes including chair yoga, meditation and gratitude.
According to Prasada, wholebeing means recognizing that we each live within three worlds: the inner world of the mind, the world of the physical body and the world outside, which Prasada calls nature.
The world of the mind is the world that you make up inside your head. It holds the interpretation of your experiences, your stories, your thoughts, emotions and feelings, the ideas of love and fear and so much more. It can be a place of joy, curiosity and wonder or a place of terror, uncertainty and chaos. It is a place you create through practices such as meditation, mindfulness, gratitude and breathwork.
In these new circumstances, focusing on stress relief and learning to practice gratitude and mindful movement can help you become more aware and enjoy life more.
The world of your physical body is the structure that holds you together in the material world. Your bones and muscles provide the framework through which the systems for air, blood, information and energy flow. Your body is also the place where your mind and soul reside and the vehicle that moves you through space and time to experience life. Your body is honed to function optimally through movement, exercise and practices such as yoga.
The world of nature includes all that is outside your body: the natural world of forests and birds, the sun, oceans and fishes, sand and soft moss. The word nature here also includes the manmade, built environment that we have constructed for our survival and comfort as we live, work, gather and play. Staying close to nature as much as possible enhances healing, happiness and health.
These programs focus on wholebeing as a way to discover the ways in which all three worlds are intimately connected. Whole-being practices are habits of awareness where we train, create, heal and grow within each of these three worlds.
Panitch Schwarze’s Wellness Program includes several components to share health-related information and reinforce healthy regular practices. Lunch-and-learn workshops run for about 15 minutes and focus on resiliency, moving for health, mindset and gratitude. Monthly 30-minute classes teach employees healthy practices, including chair yoga, walking and mindfulness. And monthly 15-minute “fix” classes put the learning into practice through stretching and breathing exercises and explorations of mindfulness, joy, gratitude and creativity.
The 60-minute workshops help participants explore the science, strategies and interactive activities of wholebeing practices. They reinforce habits of awareness for mind and body in order to move their physical, emotional and mental health to a better state. These programs include strategies that can be incorporated into daily life.
Our goal with these programs is to create happy, healthy, satisfied employees. The classes are open to all levels; no experience is required. Research has shown that focusing on wellness, even for just a few minutes a day, improves health and decreases stress levels.
It also brings benefits for the firm. Energized, engaged employees demonstrate greater focus and drive greater productivity. At Panitch Schwarze, we believe that this investment in a firmwide wellness program will pay handsome dividends for our employees personally and for our business.
Krista Hart recently chatted with Legal Management Talk about how and why she established a wellness program for staff and attorneys at Panitch Schwarze Belisario & Nadel. Listen to the episode here.