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Staying strong: top ten tips for improving your emotional resilience

09 May 2017

For Mental Health Awareness Week, Rita Oscar offers her top tips for developing and improving your emotional resilience, helping you to achieve success and happiness

This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 8 – 15 May is ‘surviving or thriving?’ The law is well known as a particularly stressful profession. A 2012 survey of the law profession by LawCare revealed that more than 50 per cent of the profession felt stressed, and 19 per cent were suffering from clinical depression. This issue is not going away, calls to the LawCare helpline in 2016 rose by 12 per cent in 2015 and the two most common reasons for calls remain the same, with stress at 38 per cent of calls [37 percent in 2015] and depression at 12 per cent [11 per cent]. LawCare is a charity which promotes and supports good mental health and wellbeing in the legal community.

There are skills and strengths you can develop to ensure you thrive – rather than just survive. Personal resilience allows you to bounce back after experiencing adversity, and deal with it in a positive way, helping you to achieve success and happiness. 

My top 10 tips for helping you to develop and flex your emotional resilience

1. Be more optimistic

Having a positive outlook doesn't mean kidding yourself about the reality – it starts with just seeing the glass half full.

2. Reflect and learn

Resilience grows when we realise we could have done things differently. Making mistakes is good when we learn from them and put measures in place not to repeat them.

3. Grow and deepen your relationships

Resilient people tend to have strong social networks. Family, friends and colleagues are a great source of support when crises occur – as well as for celebrating your successes.

4. Show appreciation and avoid rumination

Focusing on the good things in your life (and in other people's) and not dwelling on problems will keep you positive and help you to be more effective. Daily writing in a 'gratitude' journal really does help.

5. Be proactive

Psychological responses such as fear and worry can have a physiological consequence. Controlling your physiology will help you better manage your mental responses, such as anxiety and anger.

6. Operate in your circle of influence

Management guru Steven Covey said: ‘Instead of reacting to or worrying about conditions over which they have little or no control, proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can control.’ Accepting what you cannot alter, and saving your energy for those you can have an impact on, will make you both more effective and more resilient.

7. Set and work on goals

Realistic goals give direction and purpose. Setbacks are inevitable, but resilient people stay focused on their target. Visualisation techniques can make the goals more real.

8. Reserve sweat for the big stuff

Stress is like change: it never goes away. Learn what your triggers are and experiment with strategies to help you cope and regain perspective.

9. Tackle unhelpful habits

Small changes can cumulatively have a huge impact. Think about how you can replace your bad habits with better ones, and create the right conditions to tackle them. For example, if you're on a diet, don’t do the food shop when you're hungry.

10. Manage distractions

Sustained attention and concentration enable us to work better and for longer. Interruptions and distractions undermine that capability, so stop trying to multi-task – it's a fallacy.

Attitudes are changing, and wellbeing is talked about more openly in the profession. The Law Society is committed to supporting solicitors with their ongoing personal and career development, to help you achieve success and make robust career decisions.

The new law careers section of our site includes information on managing your personal development and reducing work-related stress.

Read our blogs on emotional resilience

Find out more about LawCare

Tags: emotional resilience

About the author

Rita Oscar manages the Law Society’s career development service. Her work supports current and prospective solicitors all the way from secondary school, through training and practitioner career development, to retirement planning.

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