Be Well | Transitions

Written Monday, June 28, 2021 by Dr. Traci Cipriano, Co-chair of the Lawyer Well-Being Committee

Connecticut is rapidly returning to some semblance of normalcy. If you hunkered down over the past 15 months, do not be surprised if the transition creates some distress. You may be thinking, “I should be happy. Why am I feeling this way? There must be something wrong with me.” Transitions, good or “bad,” involve uncertainty, and as became clear to all this past year, uncertainty can lead to distress.

On the one hand, while we all rejoice in the re-opening of our state and country, returning to normalcy means many of us must make a lot of daily decisions around personal comfort and safety, balancing personal and professional needs and interests, and perceived norms that may not be consistent with our own comfort level. Beyond decisions regarding masks, vaccines, social distancing, large crowds, and travel, the transition may trigger discomfort for several other reasons, a few of which are mentioned here. If you are a creature of habit, the simple change in routines and need to re-establish routines can feel taxing. If you are an introvert who thrived during the confines of the pandemic, or if you experience social anxiety, a return to business as usual may feel threatening. If your FOMO (fear of missing out) leads you to participate in too many social engagements to the detriment of your self-care, the forced down-time may have created some much-needed rest. If your work-from-home schedule allowed you to exercise daily and you are feeling trim and fit, you may worry about being able to maintain your healthy regimen when returning to the office. If you struggle with substance use, you may have found the limited opportunities to socialize and bar closures made it easier to abstain. If body image concerns cause you anxiety, any pandemic weight gain might feed into your self-consciousness. If you have relished the increased time for those you care about most, you may worry about slipping back into old patterns. 

In other words, if you are not as elated by the return to normalcy as you thought you would be, you are not alone. Practice self-compassion. Re-engage with your social world at the level and pace most comfortable to you. Prioritize those things that are most important to you and create a schedule to ensure any new self-care behaviors are not lost. Allow yourself to seek support from loved ones and friends, and reach out to a mental health professional if you are struggling.

Speaking of transitions, as I wind down in my role as co-chair of the CBA Lawyer Well-Being Committee (LWBC), I am reflecting on the past year. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the CBA community in this role, particularly during such a challenging year. I am grateful for our vibrant committee, with members fully committed to promoting well-being, and the work we have accomplished. And I am grateful for the chance to meet so many wonderful people—CBA members, leaders, and staff. I am confident that the LWBC will continue to grow and expand its reach. Some of our accomplishments this past year include the roll-out of the CBA Lawyer Well-Being Pledge, the CBA’s inaugural Lawyer Well-Being Week, presentations at CBA events such as the 2020 and 2021 Connecticut Legal Conference, the August 2020 virtual spa retreat, and involvement at YLS meetings as well as regular CBA Docket features, among other things.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.