As part of our series of webinars to support in-house lawyers during the current pandemic, on 17 April we hosted a webinar looking at how you maintain well-being, stay connected and deal with stress/anxiety when the world constantly shifts.
The IHL series of our COVID-19 webinar programme covers bite-size topics designed for a half hour coffee break and focuses on practical tips for in-house lawyers.
This first session covered an issue we are all grappling with and which we believe is so important to mental health, and consequently to the ability to continue to work effectively:
Setting the scene – the new normal
- Shifting sand beneath us with constant change
- Novelty of lockdown/home-working is wearing off and is presenting lots of challenges for individuals as they are juggling commitments and facing uncertainty/speed of change
- Expressions of guilt – lawyers feel they always need to available for clients, colleagues, families, community
- Loss of structure/routine and new physical environment, so less opportunity to disconnect – need to understand what the new normal is for different people
- Leads to increased stress and anxiety which hinders effective decision making
How to deal with stress and anxiety – top tips
- Self-awareness – we must acknowledge stress/anxiety ourselves and look out for the signs. Check-in with how you’re feeling, be in tune with yourself
- Reassess expectations about what can be achieved – accept the norm is shifting and practice resilience
- Challenge the language we use – lean-in to how you’re feeling, breath through it and pick through things rather than being hard yourself. Think about mindful compassion.
- Look after yourself first and then you are in a better place to look after others
- Feeling overwhelmed – focus on the simple things, like breathing, can really help
- Resting and digesting – prepare and plan mindset. Allows you to access critical thinking and make better decisions
How to create a separate work environment and structure – top tips
- Reassess what is most important
- Go back to basics – reflect on what you have achieved and structure the next day. Helps empty mind at end of day to help ensure good night’s sleep
- Schedule in the first part of the day to ensure the plan you made is still right
- Think about prime times and prioritise key tasks at your best times of the day
- Routine – schedule in breaks and make sure you take them. Stepping away gives you valuable thinking time. Finish mid-sentence and then you can get straight back in to the flow when you restart
- Rituals – Joe Wicks PE is a good practical start to the day
- How to avoid the biscuit tin/mindless eating/drinking – assess why (stress/boredom?) and use some techniques to help with this (reward/postpone) or create some distance (put the biscuit tin in the garage!)
- Keep physical space free of work outside of work hours and during breaks – put the laptop/phone away
- Get ready for work – maintain the routine of dress attire or have a shower/the same start to the day
Questions during the webinar
What coping strategies can you put in place where your 'usual' tools aren't feasible/useful during lockdown?
- Think about that activity and what it was that you got from that activity and then try and replicate this in some way. For example, make a flask of coffee ready for the morning. Get out early and have a cup of coffee on your own at the bottom of garden if the time on your own to start the day is important
How do you engage all members of the team if there are lots of them at different levels?
- Use technology wisely – apply different approaches with different people. Listen more attentively. Hold virtual pub meets/choirs/quizzes – play to the types of things that you would do in the office and adapt if possible
How do you engage with other teams across the business as this is crucial to IHLs?
- Invite people along to virtual team meetings so there are more touchpoints
- Think about other teams and what they could be going through and use this as a potential to reach-out
- Broaden meetings to key issues rather than just focused on teams as this will involve more people from across the business