I said, “Wow! It’s late. This must be really unusual for you.”
He said, “No, not at all. As a matter of fact, I work most nights until past 9:00 just to keep up with the work.”
I asked, “Does it ever get to you? Because those are really long hours.”
He said, “Yeah, but, you know, what are we going to do? It’s the nature of the business.”
Many of my friends who are matrimonial lawyers tell me there is a high burnout rate among professionals working with divorcing couples due to several factors:
- The work is emotionally draining;
- Often a lot of work to prepare for the mediation sessions;
- Many documents to review;
- Complicated agreement writing;
- Last-minute appointment cancellations;
- Numerous conferences and in-service trainings;
- Millions of emails and phone calls;
- It does take its toll on you.
What is the answer? I have to take time away from being a mediator.
When I first started my practice, I worked seven days a week, including Sunday. After a couple of years of doing this, I realized that by Monday I was starting to get cranky because I needed a break. For me to be an effective mediator, I have to be in a place where I can listen and be able to absorb what my clients are saying. I also need to understand that they are stressed and their lives are in turmoil. But, the only way I can do that is if I’m not experiencing the same thing in my own life.
The way I do that is to take a couple of days off every month or two. Even if I don’t go anyplace, I try not to answer the phone or spend time on divorce related issues. That way when I come back to work, I’m well rested, and ready to continue.
When working with separating or divorcing couples, you need to have a lot of patience and help them through these difficult times. If you can’t get away for a few days, do something for yourself, like go to the gym, take a Zumba or yoga class or get a massage. Any of these activities could be helpful, and just the outlet you need to clear your mind and rejuvenate yourself.
Do you have regular breaks scheduled in your calendar? What positive results have you experienced when you do this?