From the CFC talk on Psychological Health for Judges 7 December 2021
Three take home messages:
1. The value – the necessity – of seeing the need for public judicial detachment – super controlled, uncomplaining, tough – emotionally cut off, unreal, almost inhuman – and also seeing the cost of that.
And privately to name and acknowledge the reality: firstly, the reality of the objective stress factors; and then to see that there is no emotion called stress. We need to name and acknowledge the reality of the subjective reactions – the emotions: anxiety, frustration, anger, resentment, sadness. Then we have some power and can address what is actually happening to us and do something about it.
This is the paradox – fully acknowledging the negative has a positive outcome. To name is to de-shame. This is not whinging or collapsing.
Acknowledgement is with others – colleagues, family and friends, counsellor or therapist, and with ourselves privately – possibly by journaling.
2. It’s not self-indulgent or a waste of valuable worktime to look after yourself. It is your duty to look after yourself! This is the turn-key insight – which unlocks everything else.
And this is becoming the new cultural norm. Duty, perfectionism and even workaholism are ok. Masochism and self-neglect are now being seen as stupid and unnecessary.
If you do care for yourself, you have taken some power – in a situation where the enemy is a general sense of powerlessness. If we really value that step of taking power to look after ourselves, then of itself it significantly, (perhaps disproportionally – value the powerful placebo addition effect) reduces demoralisation and the risk of burnout.
3. The body mind connection is real and is a powerful potential way to cope with the demands of the job.
Breathe, sigh, yawn, cry.
Move, walk, stretch and bend.
Ensure a steady blood sugar level. Keep hydrated. Care for your eyes.