Paving the way…by Liz Novak Henderson

Do you ever feel like going on vacation is more work than it’s worth? Or even worse, you toy with canceling your vacation because you’re already anticipating the post-vacation slam? Sound familiar?

On September 27, I was fortunate enough to get married to a wonderful man. It was a beautiful day filled with joy. But I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some stress along the way – mostly those last couple of weeks leading up to the big day. By that time all the fun things like picking out your registry, your dress, bridal showers, bachelorette gatherings, etc. were done. It was all about the nitty-gritty details – like sitting in front of the TV tying 100 burlap sacks filled with coffee or paying the final food bill or finalizing the seating arrangements – ugh…seating arrangements. Plus, in the midst of this, work was quite busy—and I was getting ready to be out of the office for almost two weeks – my longest “out of office” ever.

I’m  someone who puts a lot of pressure upon myself. The result is usually sleepless nights going over every detail in my head and some overindulgence on the food side – neither of which are healthy solutions and only exasperate the problem. I have to look elsewhere for help despite being both tired and hungry – not a good combination. During periods of stress, I sometimes try to get in more exercise; attempted to eat nutrient-dense food; talked with friends, family, and others; but often what works the best is taking a break– even if it was just long enough to walk around the block and take a deep breath. During those walks, I have a few minutes to meditate and be mindful of how lucky I was with the “good things” in my life.

But the truth is, some days, I did have to remind myself – simply because I was on a hamster wheel inside my head going 90 mph. Just because things are seemingly going well, doesn’t mean there aren’t moments of stress, anxiety or feeling overwhelmed; and it certainly doesn’t mean those feelings aren’t valid. Maybe you’re starting a new job; have your first big case coming up; expecting a child; moving into your dream house; are up for partnership; are branching out on your own; or are simply feeling in a rut for reasons you can’t explain – all of these things can create stress, anxiety, fear and more.

As MCBA President Neil Rowe wrote about in his column on October 9 in The Daily Record, as a result of a task force last year under the leadership of then President Steve Modica, the MCBA has a number of initiatives in the works, including a signed agreement with Tree of Hope Counseling to provide confidential mental health related services as well as the Health & Well Being Programming Committee, chaired by Kim Duguay, to develop a variety of programs and educational opportunities aimed at overall well-being.

tree of hope

Tree of Hope Counseling is a collaborative network of private practitioners offering personal, group and family therapy, psychiatry, training, education and consultation. Its goal is to provide professional person-centered services focused on recovery and wellness. Tree of Hope will maintain a MCBA-dedicated telephone number, where members of the legal profession who are faced with mental health concerns will be able to find preliminary help and follow-up service.

Although early in its development, the Health & Well-Being Programming Committee already has several initiatives in the works, with two programs scheduled for December 11 and January 29 over the noon hour at the Telesca Center for Justice.

With the holidays, stressful situations in both our personal and professional lives can become even more magnified. These programs will give attendees the opportunity to build an increased awareness of the experience of stress and its sources, and to develop coping strategies to manage it.   The first one will be more instructional to help pave the way for self-care and well-being, with the second one being more of a skills workshop with some focus on relaxation and mindfulness techniques. We will be circulating registration flyers with more information to register.

Thanks to the Foundation of the Monroe County Bar, cost will not be a barrier for getting the help that we need in these areas– either with the programs mentioned above or Tree of Hope Counseling services.

I hope you will consider coming to one of the upcoming wellness programs, or getting involved by being part of the planning process and joining the Health & Well Being Programming Committee. Please also look for more information soon about Tree of Hope’s services, a confidential number, and dedicated area on our website with updated information.

Thanks for checking in…


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