How to Build Good Habits: Tips & Tricks

How to build good habitsReaders, what are your tips on how to build good habits? Which healthy habits have you successfully started? Have you found that one healthy habit had a domino-type effect on other healthy habits (for example, getting to bed earlier)?

A few months ago, I started to get healthier by fitting exercise into my busy daygetting more sleep, and eating healthier. Although I bought a FitBit for points for my health insurance program several months earlier, I only recently started to use its tracking capabilities on a regular basis. I started by setting easy but meaningful goals, including how many days and minutes per week of activity. I made sure to enter all of my activities. To further motivate myself, I got a new bike. I started tracking my miles on two or three apps each day, as well as a legal pad, and set a goal of 100 miles per month. I also set reminders on my calendar. Looking back, I think it was about 4-6 weeks after I started that I realized that I was making exercise a priority and was consistently hitting my goals. I also felt healthier and my clothes fit a little better.

So let’s discuss some of the best tips on how to build good habits…

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Open Thread: On Drinking Too Much, Jobs That Encourage Drinking, and Drinking Because of Job-Related Stress

women lawyers and drinkingDrinking and drug use can be a problem for anyone, but there have been a number of stories lately about how it’s particularly a problem for lawyers. (We’ve also talked in the past about how there are many high-achieving women who drink too much, too, and there was a great Medium post by Kristi Coulter last summer that explored the idea that “to be a modern, urbane women is to be a serious drinker.”) I asked Rebecca Berfanger to take a look into drinking advice for women lawyers and other professionals — what are the best tips out there for cutting back on your drinking? How can you navigate a culture of drinking — without getting sucked in? Readers: for those of you who have successfully moderated your drinking or stopped drinking entirely — what are your best tips? (For those of you who care to share — have you ever had a drug problem? What resources or tips do you recommend to other women in your situation?) For those of you who manage lifestyle and job-related stress in ways OTHER than drinking, what do you do instead to relax, take the edge off or “turn off work mode“? (Welcome back to Corporette®, Rebecca!) – Kat

Following a 2016 study by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, the ABA reported that “21 percent of licensed, employed lawyers qualify as problem drinkers, 28 percent struggle with some level of depression and 19 percent demonstrate symptoms of anxiety.” The study also found that “younger attorneys in the first 10 years of practice exhibit the highest incidence of these problems.”

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6 Things to Have on Hand When You’re Sick at Work

6 Things to Have on Hand When You're Sick at WorkWe all know we shouldn’t go to work when we’re sick. But whether you’re a presidential candidate or have a more typical career, most of us do it anyway. (Note: Here I’m referring to the average Corporette reader with full-time benefits; the millions of Americans without paid sick leave don’t have much choice about whether to stay home and rest.) Maybe you have a conference or special event to attend, a big scheduled presentation to give, or a meeting to lead, and you just can’t avoid being sick at work. We haven’t talked about tips for going to work while ill in quite a while, so we thought it was time to revisit. (Disclaimer: Of course, please don’t take this post as medical advice.)

In the past we’ve also talked about shaking hands when you’re sick, what to do when you think you’re coming down with a cold and ways to get over a coldhow to deal with many medical appointments, and how to explain an embarrassing illness.

First of all, here’s some information from an actual doctor on determining whether you’re too sick for the office. But if you need to go in no matter what, here are six things that can help you handle being sick at work (besides the age-old advice our mothers have given us since we were kids):

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Making Time for Therapy

Reader C has a great question about work/life balance — and keeping a standing therapy appointment without being perceived as lazy.  I can’t wait to hear the readers’ tips!  Here’s her question:

Hi! I’m a newer BigLaw associate. The stress of the job has caused my mental health to take a hit and so, I’ve started seeing a therapist with whom I have weekly evening (8 PM) appointments. In most other professions, asking to see a therapist “after hours” would easily be okay, but given the “constant availability” expectations of my firm, I think this may be difficult. Is there a way to firmly, but respectfully carve this hour out for myself once a week without being perceived as lazy?

Great question — I think this is a pretty common thing BigLaw associates go through, and kudos to you for taking care of your mental health. We’ve talked about taking time for frequent doctors’ appointments before, but I don’t think we’ve talked explicitly about making time for therapy and other standing appointments.  Here are some tips:

  • I really believe that most employers really do want you to have a work/life balance — but also to get stuff done. I’d be shocked if people give you too much push back on having the appointment. If and when it comes up with your supervisors, I  don’t even think you need to get into too many details here — just have an apologetic note in your voice when you say, “I have a standing appointment tonight at 8:00, but…”
  • Make yourself available after the appointment as needed, and let people know that.  “I’ll be back in the office at 9:30,” or “I’ll be back on email at 9:30.” Then, do it.  I know therapy sessions can sometimes be emotional, but whatever you say you’re going to do, make sure you do it.  (You may want to check out our discussion a few weeks ago about answering work email at home.)
  • Know your colleagues. If there’s one of your superiors who only starts work at 6PM, you may have to handle him or her in a different way, and be more direct, but also more persistent by reminding them regularly that you’ll be out of pocket, checking in with them as soon as you’re you’re out of the appointment, and possibly even setting up a backup (paralegal? secretary?) who can definitely be available for the whopping 90 minutes you need to yourself.
  • Finally, know the peculiarities of your work schedule. If your work requires you to frequently have a late-night deadline (i.e., if your company has a regular pouch going from NYC to DC on a nightly basis), or if you work with colleagues or clients in a different time zone who are still in full work mode when you’re leaving at 8 PM — then I would strongly consider shifting your therapy appointment to another time, like first thing in the morning. Another option that I know some readers have mentioned is having a therapist who they only see via Facetime/Skype/or on the phone — if you find such a therapist, he or she may offer even later/earlier appointments than 8 PM (or be in a different time zone entirely so the hours are later/earlier than a local therapist could offer.)

Ladies, for those of you who go to therapy or other standing appointments, how do you make time for the appointment and let your colleagues know? What kind of pushback have you come up against, and how have you dealt with it? 

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Beauty Wednesday: Serums, Sunscreen, and Retinoids

aging skincare tips serums sunscreens retinoidsLadies, what is your skin routine? At what age did you get serious about skincare? What are your favorite products, both over-the-counter and prescription, whether for anti-aging, anti-wrinkles, exfoliating, or something else? I’ve seen a lot of readers talking recently about serums, sunscreens, retinoids and more, so let’s discuss. I’m curious to hear what everyone else is doing, what products you like, and if you have any tips/tricks for applying — but here’s my own story:

After years of using only organic options while pregnant/nursing (based on something my first OB/GYN said to me), I was eager to get “the good stuff” when I finally had my body back to myself. As I often do, I turned to the commenting threads for advice and found an older thread where a reader had said that for a woman in her 30s, the main things you need are Vitamin C, sunscreen, and a retinoid. I liked the simplicity of this statement, as well as the chorus of agreement from other readers. I already had an organic, nursing-approved Vitamin C serum and have been using sunscreen daily since my teenage lifeguard years, so I thought, OK, to the dermatologist I go for a retinoid. (Just a quick science/vocab lesson, at least as I understand things: Retinol and retinoids are both Vitamin A. Retinols are available in over the counter (OTC) products; retinoids are available in prescriptions only. Retin-A is the brand name for one of the retinoids you can get.)

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7 Tips to Help You Hire a Personal Trainer

hire a personal trainerHave you ever tried to hire a personal trainer? Did you find it was a good experience, a mediocre one, or a bad one? Do you have any tips for others on how to hire a personal trainer and get the best experience possible? It’s been quite a while since we talked about finding a personal trainer, so let’s discuss it today. (We’ve also talked about lunch workouts and lifting weights, and fitting exercise into a busy day.)

You have a few options if you want to hire a personal trainer: join a gym and pick one of its staff trainers, find a trainer who works out of his or her own private space, or choose someone who’ll come to your home to work with you. But how do you find the right professional?

Finding my personal trainer (whom I’ve worked with on and off as my budget permits) was pretty easy for me — I found her through an online search and have been happy with her services — but the advice we’ll share below, which includes tips from Corporette readers, goes beyond Google:

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