Seven Ways to Integrate Change

One of the most-used words during the pandemic has been the word “change.” Each of our personal and professional worlds has undergone countless micro and macro changes; some for better, others for worse. The amount of adjustments we have been forced to make during the pandemic is almost incomprehensible to our brains and nervous systems. While we may have successfully adapted in countless ways, our nervous systems are not used to making so many changes all at once in such a short period of time; we may need some time to catch up and integrate what happened.

As you return to your law office or court, or return to large-group socializing, on the outside it may appear that little has changed. Things may even look and run “normally” on the surface. But don’t let outward appearances deceive you; a lot may be going on under the surface. None of us went through the pandemic--and accompanying social and political strains--without experiencing additional stress caused by change. Most of our nervous systems and mindset will not yet be recovered from months of uncertainty, loss, and change.

A mistake we could make as we move toward a new “normal” is to shift quickly back into post-pandemic life without first taking a moment to integrate. Dr. Dan Seigel, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and the founding co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA, researches the important role that integration plays in our brain health and in our well-being. His research shows that there are a number of healthy ways that help us to integrate, such as:

  • Down time (time to hang out and not do anything goal oriented)
  • Time to connect (socially and with nature)
  • Motion (exercise/movement)
  • Sleep (deep restorative sleep)
  • Focus (on one thing at a time)
  • Play (humor, fun)
  • Internal awareness practices (meditation, mindfulness, reflection, prayer, self-compassion)

The next time you feel confused or overwhelmed about making a change, be kind to yourself: it’s possible your brain is on “decision-making overload” and needs a moment to integrate. Instead of pushing yourself to make a decision in the moment, try one of these practices first. Writing down your experience after you complete the practice can help you to further integrate. You may need to repeat these practices for particularly overwhelming decisions or changes. The more you practice, the more you integrate, and the easier it is to move forward unencumbered by the challenges of the past.

Laura Mahr is a North Carolina and Oregon lawyer and the founder of Conscious Legal Minds LLC, providing well-being coaching, training, and consulting for attorneys and law offices nationwide. Her work is informed by 13 years of practice as a civil sexual assault attorney, 25 years as a student and teacher of mindfulness and yoga, a love of neurobiology, and a passion for resilience. Find out more about Laura’s coaching and training at

If you would like to learn more about mindfulness and resilience in the practice of law, check out Laura’s online, on-demand CLEs: “Mindfulness for Lawyers: Building Resilience to Stress Using Mindfulness, Meditation, and Neuroscience” (1 hour or 4 hour courses) (approved for mental health and/or general CLE credits by the NC State Bar):

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