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Take a holiday, avoid sunburn and burnout: tips from a trainee solicitor

22 August 2017

Yes - I am also guilty of waking up in the middle of the night and refreshing my work emails - the shame!

As a trainee solicitor and someone who is very early on in their legal career, I am swiftly learning the importance of switching off and taking a break.  I used to have a terrible habit of "saving" my holidays until later in the year. By the time my holiday came round, I found myself desperate for a break.

But then, when I actually took my holiday, I spent far too much time worrying about work, as opposed to actually enjoying my time away from the office. I would be constantly checking my emails or checking in with colleagues that some kind of crisis had not ensued in my absence!

As we reach the peak of summer, many of us get to the point of burnout. Tiredness, difficulty concentrating and a lack of patience are just some of the signs that you're ready for a break. 

Stress in the workplace is commonplace. A recent survey by the Law Society's Junior Lawyers Division found that ninety per cent of junior lawyers say they experience stress in the workplace. Stress is undoubtedly part of a job in the legal career, a job which often encompasses a huge amount of responsibility for a client. Stress, however, should be manageable. It shouldn't get to a point where stress takes over and inhibits our ability to work.

It is so important that we step back and take a break. We need to allow ourselves the opportunity to recharge. Ultimately, a happy, well-rested lawyer is far more likely to be productive in the workplace. Here are my top tips to relax and unwind on holiday. Everyone is different and your idea of relaxation may be different to mine - whatever it may be, find ways to relax to suit you.

Plan ahead

Where possible, plan your workload around your annual leave. Let your clients know you will be out of the office. Liaise with your colleagues to work out who will look after matters in your absence. Planning will give you the peace of mind (and control!) that you need.

Enjoy some "me" time

Enjoy the time of having no one else to think of and the opportunity to spend time just how you wish. Whether it is reading a book, sitting the garden with a glass of wine… do the things you want to do that you just never "get a chance" to do. 

Switch off

Make a conscious effort to switch off from work. I know how difficult it is to disconnect from work. Yes - I am also guilty of waking up in the middle of the night and refreshing my work emails - the shame! From my experience, I think it is about being strict with yourself. I've sometimes turned my work emails off on my phone completely or simply had a 'no phone' policy. 

Or, if you feel that you need to check your emails or your job simply dictates that you need to, then set a time each day when you are allowed to check. You are the person who is ultimately in control. Self-discipline is key!

To sleep, perchance to dream

There's no greater feeling than being able to wake up without the sound of an alarm ringing in your ear at 6AM! Take the opportunity to enjoy that snooze and really let your body recharge and recover. You may even be partial to a summer siesta! Enjoy quality time with your loved ones I often use the holidays to reconnect with friends I haven't seen for a while or to spend quality time with my family. With our busy lives it is so easy to lose touch with people. Pick up the phone and reach out.

Get outdoors! 

We are stuck indoors, behind a desk or in meetings, five days a week! Relish the opportunity to go for a stroll, sit outside and enjoy some well-earned Vitamin D! 

I can't offer you the perfect recipe to live a stress free life. Sadly, it is part and parcel of the industry we work in. What I can say is, is that we owe it to ourselves, our family and even our clients, to take time off and relax! Trust me, after a week or two of proper relaxation, you'll find yourself ready and raring to go….

Check out all the resources in our Junior Lawyers Division. Join in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Tags: emotional resilience | stress | wellbeing

About the author

Lucy Parker is a solicitor at Ramsdens Solicitors LLP. With 14 offices across West and North Yorkshire, Ramsdens Solicitors LLP is a forward-thinking, provincial firm proudly serving the region's private individuals and commercial businesses.

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