As we neared press time for the Spring issue of San Francisco Attorney magazine, we found ourselves in uncharted territory. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is forcing us to examine how we live, work, and connect with each other. As a community, we are learning to be nimble and develop new responses to issues of health, community, and social gathering.
As we begin April, business as usual has been disrupted. Public life is largely suspended, as museums, theaters, libraries, and schools are closing for weeks, perhaps longer. Businesses are facing difficult decisions to reduce or shut operations while taking care of the health and safety of their employees. Not everyone can self-quarantine: At the front lines of the pandemic are healthcare professionals, transit and service industry workers, social service providers, advocates, and public servants who keep essential services running.
The situation is evolving fast and we cannot predict what our public and professional lives will look like when this magazine arrives in your mailbox. Publishing this magazine issue filled with self-care and wellness advice takes on a new level of meaning in the times of COVID-19.
Wellness extends beyond the self. We sincerely hope that the expert tips in this issue will help you cope in these times of increased uncertainty and stress. The articles that follow are designed to “fill your resilience tank, [giving you] more fuel to tackle challenges,” as Krista Larson describes it in her article. Taking care of yourself will help those around us too, as Michael Susi reminds us: “When leaders exhibit the qualities and practices of self-care, it grants permission for others to take the steps necessary for their own self-care.” Be a leader to those around you.
We are interconnected. The spread of the pandemic can be slowed, public health officials tell us, if we practice social distancing, limit gatherings, and increase our hygiene measures. For many of us in the legal profession, work on behalf of our clients continues at courthouses, in jails and detention centers, in offices, community centers, and clinics. Our job is to protect safe access to justice—another concept that takes on new meaning in the times of COVID-19. We are quickly learning that, in a city of 900,000, we are only as safe and as strong as the least-resourced people among us. As a community, we need to take care of each other, so we are stronger together.
We are here for you. This experience is offering us many learning opportunities. It highlights areas in our infrastructure and service delivery that we need to continue to improve. As an association, we are in the business of learning from and supporting each other. We excel at providing opportunities for connection and exchange, and we are now learning that it is crucial that we provide more of these opportunities virtually. To that end, we are, for instance, developing online communities for our sections and committees, so exchange of ideas and solutions can continue even during times of social distancing. We look forward to working with our members, friends, and partners to develop more solutions that make us stronger and more resilient.
We hope you enjoy the articles in this issue and find some practical tips to take care of yourself and those around you. We recognize that self-care is personal and comes in many forms. Advice that benefits one person may not work for another. However, these unprecedented times are a reminder that wellness practices such as mindfulness, kindness, and empathy are universal tonics to alleviate stress for ourselves and those around us.
About the Author:
Yolanda Jackson is the executive director and general counsel of the Bar Association of San Francisco, and the executive director of the Justice & Diversity Center.