Why Is Intellectual Self-Care Important?

LAPBC promotes the concept of “Lawyer Well-Being” which contains seven domains of continuous self-care or lawyer well-being. One of those dimensions is labelled “Intellectual” and is described as follows: “Engaging in continuous learning and the pursuit of creative or intellectually challenging activities that foster ongoing development. Intellectual self-care means we look after ourselves by expanding our knowledge and mindset.” Our brains need to grow and learn new facts and information in order to remain healthy. For lawyers, I would add that the emphasis needs to be placed on learning new information outside of our competence areas in the legal profession.  

Why is intellectual self-care important?

  • It recharges our brains
  • It keeps our brains strong
  • It helps us feel accomplished
  • It helps our brain stay active as it ages
  • It can lower your risk of dementia – According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, several studies indicate that people who participate in “cognitively stimulating activities” lower their risk of dementia
  • It can increase your level of happiness

Suggestions for practices and activities:

  1. Learn a new language
  2. Read a novel – this is my personal favourite activity on the list. Currently I am obsessed with octopuses (not “octupi,” as I want to say, but, correctly, in the plural, octopuses). For a beach read, I recommend the novel Remarkably Bright Creatures  by Shelby Von Pelt, with Marcellus, the intrepid octopus, as a main character. For non-fiction I recommend The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery, a scientist’s exploration of one octopuses’ remarkable consciousness and intelligence. 
  3. Watch a documentary – I cannot say enough about the Oscar-nominated My Octopus Teacher directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed, now available on Netflix
  4. Listen to a podcast – I recommend the New York Times Ezra Klein podcast, especially the episode where he does a deep dive into the stimulating lives of the Pacific Giant Octopus
  5. Play a mental game like chess or scrabble – if you are a millennial or a Gen Z – challenging video games are allowed
  6. Visit your local museum, art gallery or aquarium – in the latter you might catch a glimpse of the incredible Pacific Giant Octopus
  7. Take a break and complete a puzzle – can’t beat the daily stimulation provided by the New York Times Daily Crossword, Spelling Bee, or Connections puzzles.

Of course, there a many other possibilities. At times, a life in law can be exhausting and stressful. While some of us can be good at physical self-care – our intellectual self-care program can’t be neglected. From another perspective, our legal brains need to relax, just as much as our bodies do.

Patrick Walker
Patrick Walker joined LAPBC in 2023.