This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme of the week is Kindness: being kind to others and being kind to yourself.
This is a worrying time for all of us and we are having to adapt to a new way of life, which may include working from home, home-schooling our children, or supporting our friends and family members who are keyworkers.
The legal profession is fast-paced and demanding, and lawyers are notoriously high-achievers who may feel under pressure. In these uncertain times, it is important that we look after ourselves and our colleagues to ensure that we do not feel overwhelmed by all these stressors.
We asked our staff to anonymously share some of their top tips for mental health management. These range from advice about exercise and mindfulness activities to suggestions on how to improve sleep, and learn to change your attitude. Some of our team members also referenced useful helplines and charities that provide specialist support for mental health issues.
We hope you find our tips helpful!
- Focus on breathing to help calm you down when you feel overwhelmed.
- I go for a walk and to centre myself, I find 5 things I can see, 4 things I can hear, 3 things I can touch, 2 things I can smell and 1 thing I can taste. I try and make them natural things i.e. Birdsong not a car! I find it very grounding.
- Participate in online meditation and/or yoga classes or do them yourself. They are great for reducing stress and anxiety amongst other things.
- Spend time with nature, in the garden or out for a walk.
- Lie down, close your eyes, create and find your own special place to relax.
- Stop. Take a break. Feel the beauty of the natural world.
- Yoga – especially the Cat Stretch and Child’s pose.
- Dance like no one’s watching!
- Exercise every day! Whether it be yoga, a walk, or a run – even if it is for 10 minutes!
- Go for a walk and get some fresh air.
- Going for a walk/ any exercise can release endorphins, so we feel good.
- I try and get out of the house for a walk or run at least once a day.
- Pilates is great exercise and good for the mind.
- Get your seven hours of sleep each night.
- I use lavender spritz on my pillow. It smells amazing and helps me get to sleep nice and quickly.
- This new way of life has caused a change in all our routines, but it is important to make sure you still go to bed and wake up at a reasonable time.
Hobbies and Interests
- I have a wide selection of hobbies and interests that I can do alone or with others online. This keeps things fresh.
- Watch a feel-good movie or listen to relaxing music.
- Try something new e.g. Golf, bike riding, abseiling, sky diving, anything!
- Creative writing – when I’m stressed, writing part of a story or a poem helps me to refocus my mind and stimulate my imagination.
Attitudes and Perceptions
- Be proud of all you have achieved and try not to compare yourself to other people. We are all on different paths.
- Find a positive in every day.
- Go off grid, disconnect from emails, alerts, and other interruptions.
- If I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, sometimes it helps to take a step back, or to do something different for a while
- Laugh at things you can’t change.
- Make a list of things to look-forward to, even small things such as a new episode of your favourite show. Focus on these things rather than things in the past.
- Remember Ferris Bueller’s famous quote, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
- Take time out for yourself and don’t feel guilty that you are wasting time or being unproductive because you are actually using this time to recharge.
- Connect with others and be sociable.
- Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help.
- Help someone else who is in need may give someone self-satisfaction.
- Helpful support services are Mind, the Samaritans, and Law Care.
- It’s nice to be nice! Spread kindness, pay someone a compliment, help someone with a task at work.
- Socialise and catch-up with friends.
- Talk to a family member, friend, colleague or even your boss if the issue is work-related. Talking through problems can help you find a solution and get things off your chest.
- Talk out any concerns, whether it be with someone close, or a stranger may be easier sometimes. If so, there’s a helpline for mental health e.g. The Samaritans/talk to GP to put you in touch.
If you require urgent mental health support, please call the Samaritans helpline on 116 123.
You may also wish to speak to your GP so they can help you to get the appropriate support/treatment.
Other useful organisations include the charity Mind, which has locations around the UK including in Hertfordshire – 0300 123 3393, and LawCare, a charity that provides support for anyone in the legal profession – 0800 279 6888.