Now more than ever, it is important to look after our mental wellbeing and to be aware of how this might be affected by the current situation.
For the vast majority of us in the legal community, working in an office environment and interacting with colleagues and clients is part of the fabric of our daily lives and much of this has changed.
When lockdown began, we all seemed interested in how others were getting on and it was pleasing to see how many people included good wishes in their emails and shared details of how they were coping with working from home. Are we still showing the same interest several weeks in?
I feel fortunate in that I have worked from home for part of my week for over a decade, so I am quite used to this set up. My husband is now also working from home and our adult children are both studying and are relatively self-sufficient. We have a garden to spend time in and green spaces nearby where we can take our daily exercise. Nevertheless, there have been times over the last few weeks when I have struggled to keep my spirits up, although I was initially reluctant to show this.
However, last week, instead of replying with the usual “I’m fine” when people asked how I was, I mentioned to a couple of colleagues that I’d been finding things tough. Both were very supportive and I was reminded that it helps to take each day as it comes and not to look too far ahead at the moment. It’s also good to keep in mind that some days will be better than others, and that’s ok.
A week or so after lockdown, I decided to set up a hub that colleagues could access with links to useful wellbeing resources, quizzes, etc and I send out a weekly email to highlight what has been added. I mentioned my experience of having been supported by colleagues in last week’s update email. No sooner had I hit ‘send’, than my in box lit up with emails from other colleagues from across our offices and teams, offering words of encouragement and, in some cases, sharing that they had also been finding things hard.
This gave me such a boost and emphasised for me the importance speaking up when you feel things are getting on top of you, and of offering support to colleagues whose circumstances may be different from yours, but who will almost certainly be facing their own challenges.
I was also reminded of how many different situations colleagues find themselves in, from those spending lockdown on their own, perhaps without their own outdoor space, to those with young families whose partners are also working from home while both parents try to juggle childcare and other family responsibilities. Each situation has its own benefits and drawbacks.
So if you feel able to, check in with colleagues to see how they are getting on – giving others support can help to boost our own mental wellbeing too. What about organising a virtual ‘lunch’ (bring your own food, obviously!) so that you can catch up generally, or even just pick up the phone and have a chat with a colleague if you haven’t been in contact with them in a while. If a colleague is having an ‘off’ day, you don’t necessarily have to provide a solution – sometimes just listening while they talk over their situation can be a great support. I can definitely vouch for the fact that there is truth in the old adage “a problem shared is a problem halved”.
Catherine Hart, Professional Support Lawyer, Digby Brown LLP and LawCare champion
Subscribe to our free quarterly newsletter and updates
You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will treat your information with respect. More information about our privacy practices is on our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.’