Back in March, when the Covid-19 pandemic was reaching global proportions and folks everywhere were forced into quarantine, I found myself tunneling down one of those internet rabbit holes reading about zoos. In retrospect, this was all too appropriate…but at the time I didn’t make the connection between my locked-in circumstance and the life lived by captive animals across the world. You see, I was reading about the subject, not because felt caged, but because a major construction project was under way across the street and the daily noise was making me crazy.
Turns out construction noise is terrible for animals. Studies show that large mammals such as giraffes, elephants and emus suffer chronic stress when regularly exposed to worksite clamor. Reading this triggered an epiphany: I’m a large mammal, too. Obvious? Yes. Easy to forget? Also, yes.
As of 2014 more than half the world’s population resides in cities. Nonetheless, we, just like every living creature on this planet, evolved to live not among buildings but under forest canopies and wild skies. As much as the modern, industrialized world may obscure this fact, it won’t be erased. If elephants suffer chronic stress when exposed to urban noise, there’s every reason to think that we do as well. Indeed, the numbers speak loudly: decades of global data shows mental health disorders rising steadily. Researchers assert that it is “clear 21st Century life is taking its toll on some people.” Animals suffer when subject to constant, unnatural stressors, and we, after all, are animals.
Rewilding for Personal and Business Growth
In Japan, it’s called shinrin-yoku. Shinrin means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” Taken together, the term might be translated as “forest bathing” and refers to the practice of soaking up a woodland atmosphere as a means of easing stress and worry. Numerous studies affirm the health benefits of shinrin-yoku. One aiming to investigate the effects of forest bathing on cardiovascular function in middle-aged men, for instance, found that the practice “significantly reduced pulse rate and […] decreased the scores for depression, fatigue, anxiety, and confusion.” In a society that spends 93% of its time indoors, it is hardly surprising that a couple of hours in nature would have such a dramatic effect.
There is no trick to forest bathing and it doesn’t require any special knowledge. All that is required is that you get outdoors, disconnect from the city din, and stay there for a while. The health benefits to be had are enormous but the business gains might be even bigger. After all, it’s been shown that it’s not quantity but quality of work that matters in such competitive industries as law and, naturally, you won’t get quality from yourself or your team if anxiety is crippling your office.
Better-quality work is not the only bonus to arise from reduced stress, though; better-quality hires and greater retention are also to be had. As the saying goes, birds of a feather fly together. Top firms attract top talent because the best lawyers want to work with people who not only value their skills but mirror them. Bringing focus to your practice by caring for your and your team’s mental health sets you up to do just this.
Hiring & Empowering Solutions’ 66-Day Law Firm Turnaround program not only coaches you through instituting effective, business-oriented mental health maintenance protocols, it helps you refine quality in all aspects of running a successful firm. For more on this, don’t hesitate to schedule a call!