The start of my Training Contract has been a really exciting time in my legal career. I have thoroughly loved learning a new area of the law, getting used to office life and making new friends. However, as you may expect, there have also been times when I have felt anxious in my new role, and it has been important for me to take the time to consider how I can look after my wellbeing.
Aside from the obvious reasons for wanting to take care of my wellbeing, one of the main reasons I attach such significance to it in the context of my Training Contract is because I feel it is important to be fulfilled by and to enjoy an experience that I (like all of my fellow Trainees) have worked so hard and for so long to achieve.
In this article, I reflect on four methods that I have used to help me manage my wellbeing and I also briefly touch on some of Michelmores’ firm-wide wellbeing initiatives.
The number-one habit that I have implemented ever since the second year of my undergraduate degree, is doing an activity before going to work/uni. I have a real interest in fitness, so for me, the activity has always consisted of going to the gym, however, the principle applies regardless of the activity. For example, you could read a book, cook breakfast, or walk your dog. On my rest day, my activity is as simple as getting up early to have a cuddle with my cat!
This habit has been extremely beneficial at improving my day-to-day wellbeing because it has ensured that I find time for myself every day, which can otherwise be difficult given the unpredictable nature of a legal career.
To prevent myself from becoming overwhelmed by the busy nature of life as a Trainee Solicitor, I manage my time by establishing multiple routines. I find this helps me to consistently find the time to do everything that I need to do, without the stress of trying to remember to do it and/or find the time to do it. By way of example, I have established a set day of each week on which I complete my Trainee Diary.
Over the last year or so, I have learnt a number of techniques that help to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. They are only simple things such as a rhythmic tapping routine or entering an unfocused gaze whilst making tiny circles with my forefinger and my thumb, but they are extremely effective at quickly relieving symptoms of stress/anxiety and they are discrete, so they can be done anywhere without other people even noticing.
Learning and using these techniques has been really helpful in respect of managing momentary feelings of stress/anxiety, such as helping to calm my nerves before my PSC exams.
After three years studying law at undergraduate level and two years studying the LPC whilst working part-time as a paralegal, I have finally learnt my early warning signs of burnout. I have gotten better at knowing when I am able to push myself and when I should let myself rest. This is important because in order to succeed, you need to challenge yourself and put in the hard work. However, you need to be careful not to push yourself too far, as you risk hitting burnout.
There is never a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to managing your wellbeing and the methods that work for me, may not work for you. It is crucial to work out exactly what habits suit you and your lifestyle! I hope that after reading this article, you may feel encouraged to consider techniques for managing your own wellbeing.
Michelmores have a number of wellbeing initiatives, the Steptacular and the Wellbeing Champions.
The Steptacular is a step challenge that takes place over two weeks, the aim being to walk/jog the most steps. The firm is split into teams comprised of various people from across the firm and the team with the most steps at the end of the challenge wins a prize. The Steptacular is designed with individuals’ wellbeing in mind and therefore seeks to encourage people to get outside, get moving and get talking, which brings positive mental benefits.
Michelmores has recently implemented Wellbeing Champions, who are volunteers from across the firm whose primary aim is to support individuals’ wellbeing by encouraging wellbeing activities and positive conversations about mental health. The Wellbeing Champions recently held a drop-in coffee and cake morning to which we were all invited for a break and an informal chat. Sessions such as this are useful at keeping wellbeing at the forefront of everybody’s mind, encouraging everyone to take the time to look out for themselves and for others and reminding people that there is always someone willing to listen.
If you’d like to discuss mental wellbeing as a trainee solicitor, or any other aspects of trainee life, please feel free to get in touch!