Mental Health Awareness Week 2021: five ways to embrace change

The last year has brought about changes for everyone, both professionally and personally. Now that life is slowly returning to ‘normal’, what’s next? Caroline Harper, specialist nurse adviser for mental health at Bupa UK, suggests five ways of thinking more positively about the future.


Any change can feel daunting, even if it’s a positive thing like getting a promotion or buying a house. It’s normal to feel worried or anxious when you have to adapt to something new.

Read the Mental Health Foundation’s article on how to overcome fear and anxiety

However, research shows that thinking positively can help both your mental and physical health. It’s even linked to doing better at work.

So, to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, here are five things you can do to embrace change and look positively to the future as the end of lockdown restrictions edges closer.

1. Focus on the positives

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the way that many lawyers work.

See the 2020 LexisNexis Bellwether Report on COVID-19

For example, pre-COVID-19, only 41% of in-house lawyers surveyed by DLA Piper felt that their role was that of a business adviser. But now 66% of people feel their role has become more strategic.

There has been a move away from risk mitigation and compliance and towards focusing on business success. With this change, you might see plenty more chances to shape your career and seek out new opportunities.

There has also been a huge increase in the use of technology, with a 45% growth in law firms using conferencing software to enable meetings from home.

This is an impressive achievement, considering that 58% of law firms didn’t have laptops to enable remote working beforehand.

Learning new skills and making such significant changes to the way you work are all important examples of how lawyers have overcome practical challenges and used them as a chance for personal development.

2. Reflect on how far you’ve come already

If you’re feeling unsure about what’s to come, think about the things you’ve already achieved.

It’s likely you’ve overcome some obstacles this year, whether that was adapting to new technology at work or home-schooling your children.

Try writing a list of all the things you’ve accomplished.

When you reflect on all the challenges you’ve managed to cope with, you might find you’re more resilient than you give yourself credit for.

For example, 70% of in-house lawyers surveyed by DLA Piper, felt that their team was either very or extremely effective at adding value to their business while based at home.

Read DLA Piper’s Insights Report: the in-house lawyer role during COVID-19

The Law Society is introducing Bupa By You private health insurance with a 10% discount* for Law Society members.

Read more about the offer

*Applies to eligible Law Society members on quotes for new Bupa By You policies. Discounts will be reviewed on 4 February 2022 and any changes will then apply to renewals and new quotes taken out after that date. Quotes are valid for 14 days. Terms and conditions apply.

3. Look to the future

As you continue towards a ‘new normal’, think about the new experiences you’ve enjoyed over the last year and which you’d like to continue in the future.

It might help to set some new goals that you can focus on. These could be personal or professional.

Maybe you want to strike a better work-life balance after seeing the benefits of working from home. Perhaps you’ve enjoyed being able to connect with more colleagues thanks to video calls and you want to keep growing your network.

The 2020 LexisNexis Bellwether Report found that 71% of law firms think that the pandemic could be an opportunity for innovation, and 56% have seen it as a chance to improve their strategy.

4. Boost your wellbeing

Making your wellbeing a priority helps ensure you have the physical and mental energy to cope with any changes that are coming your way.

Taking care of yourself helps you to build resilience. This can reduce stress and anxiety, as well as help you bounce back from any setback.

For example:

  • make time to do activities you find relaxing, like reading a book or watching a film,
  • try to do some regular exercise – even a short walk can help to clear your head,
  • eat regular, balanced meals and keep hydrated
  • try to get a good night’s sleep if you can

You could also try practising mindfulness or meditation. There are apps that can help you with this.

It can also be helpful to acknowledge that there are some changes that you can’t prevent or control. If you can’t do anything about it, try to accept it and move on. This isn’t always easy but focusing your energy on other things can help reduce stress and anxiety.

The good news is that DLA Piper found 93% of lawyers thought their organisation had managed staff health and wellbeing well, or very well at the beginning of the pandemic.

Nearly half of those surveyed for the LexisNexis Bellwether Report said they had noticed a greater focus on mental health. The report found that firms continued to place staff morale ahead of retaining clients on their list of priorities.

5. Connect with others

Home working has given us a greater insight into our colleagues’ lives, with many of us even meeting pets and family members during meetings.

It’s important to maintain these social connections, especially when working from home for long periods of time.

If you’re feeling stressed, worried or just want to talk about what’s going on, reach out to other people for help and support. This could be your manager, a mentor or a loved one. You might also find that talking about your concerns helps other people talk about theirs, too.

According to the DLA Piper Insights Report 2020, 56% of in-house lawyers have reported that strong personal relationships were the main thing that helped them during lockdown.

Moving forwards

Remember that the last year has meant huge change for everyone, a lot of which has been out of your control. You’re not alone if you have felt it overwhelming or disorienting at times.

Take time to reflect on your achievements, the challenges you’ve overcome, and look ahead to new opportunities. A positive mindset can help you stay healthy and happy moving forwards.

Related resources

What will come from this? Wellbeing and mental health in the legal profession after COVID-19

Mental health matters: how we reacted to COVID-19

Explore the mental health and coronavirus wellbeing resources for solicitors and legal firms

Read our guide to supporting wellbeing in the workplace: guidance for best practice

Read Mind’s resources on coronavirus and your wellbeing

Views expressed in our blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Law Society.

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