The QLS Wellbeing Working Group (WWG) is the primary group for leading wellbeing initiatives, with a focus on providing the legal profession with guidance, education, events and publications on wellbeing.
The members of the working group come from various backgrounds and bring together a wealth of diverse experiences, specialised knowledge and areas of expertise, including perspectives from private practice, in-house counsel, legal education, city-based and regional practitioners. What they all have in common is a passion and strong commitment to work towards better wellbeing for everyone in the legal profession. The working group is committed to promoting thriving workplaces and law schools, healthy work practices, positive work cultures and strong leadership.
To provide their colleagues and peers with practical and useful ideas on how to prioritise and strengthen health and wellbeing, they have each contributed their top wellbeing tips. Let us know your favourite!
Chair Wellbeing Working Group and previous CEO, Queensland Law Society (2009-2015)
Throughout the pandemic, this year has given us many challenges and opportunities. I think the greatest opportunity has been to take a step back from was considered the pre-pandemic “norm” and take stock of what really matters to us personally and professionally. Take the opportunity to foster personal resilience and take a little more time to think and focus on what is important to achieve each day.
Recognise that recharging the batteries is critical maintenance for mental and physical wellbeing. I have found been catching up with colleagues, friends and family by phone (or Skype or Facetime) has developed into something of a new habit, as I could not see them physically. It is important to check in on people, rather than assume they are okay.
Personally, I have given more time to walking and thinking (I realise that I have more chance for this now that I am not working fulltime). I spend my time doing more of the things I love and take time to recognise moments that give joy in each day. They don’t have to be momentous–but pausing to note them gives great satisfaction–and we are meant to be happy!
Co-Chair Wellbeing Working Group and Partner, Cooper Grace Ward
Be your own authentic self–don’t measure yourself against others. In times of high work stress, seek comfort in knowing most of us feel this way from time to time and that it will pass. Have as much fun as possible in your free (non-work) time.
Collaborative Family Lawyer and Mediator & FDRP, McLaughlins Lawyers
Be ruthless with prioritising self-care. Constant demands for our time and attention increased during COVID-19 and show no signs of slowing down. Schedule in your next massage/hair appointment/medical check-up ahead of time. Block out your diary for your exercise routine or daily walk. Say NO to invitations and events that will make your calendar look like a game of Tetris. Finally, ALWAYS have at least 2 holidays, breaks, time-outs or staycations booked in.
Lawyer, Cooper Grace Ward
I come from a very close-knit family. Unfortunately, like many others, our family is spread out across the country and with the ongoing border closures, we haven’t seen each other in-person for over a year. To help overcome this new 2020 challenge, we all make a concerted effort to stay connected in creative ways to make sure that we still laugh together often and share quality time. One of those ways is a regular Zoom session in which we take turns sharing a recipe that we then cook together over Zoom. If the recipe requires specialist ingredients or tools, we send each other care packages (thank you Australia Post) with those things in preparation for the Zoom session.
If you don’t like to cook, there are so many other options to give a go–you could do a painting tutorial online together (a glass of wine helps with this one!) or get your bodies moving with an online exercise class. The options are endless. Encourage yourself to embrace the challenge of 2020 and use this time to creatively connect with your loved ones.
Solicitor, Apels Solicitors & Notary
At least once each day get outside and walk or sit somewhere that you can see the horizon. We spend too much of the day dealing with short timeframes and close focus–our computer screen, our office or the car in front of us in traffic. The proximal and urgent commands our attention, but it’s the distant and big picture that gives us context. Get a view of the horizon for at least a few minutes each day, it resets your perspective and priorities.
Principal Lawyer, Crime and Corruption Commission
It is okay to not be okay. The stress and pressures of the modern work environment are greater today than in years gone by. Take the time to acknowledge your feelings. Work on ways you can alleviate some of the stress and refuel. Sometimes it is okay to say “this work will just have to wait until tomorrow.”
Professor of Law, Bond University
Be your authentic self–have confidence and pride in who you are and what you stand for.
Look out for others. Caring and checking in on others can also remind us how important it is to look after ourselves–we need to fit our own oxygen mask first so we have the capacity to be able to help others.
Behavioural Scientist and Nationally Accredited Mediator, Dispute Management Australia
Make a plan to achieve a lifestyle balance by adding more positive experiences in your life.
Draw up a lifestyle balance pie chart to determine your current life balance including:
- recreational and fun activities or hobbies and creativity
- personal and professional development
- money and finances
- health and fitness
- friends and social life
- community involvement
- personal relationships and love
- life purpose
- and alone time.
Increasing human connection is particularly important. Allow ample time to connect with others, which releases hormones such as oxytocin and other “feel good” hormones that are known to reduce chronic stress levels.
Consultant, Mackenzie Mitchell Solicitors
Don’t put off other things in your life because of work. Make your home comfortable. Buy the nice shoes. Keep up an exercise regime. Take your leave regularly. Law can be an all-consuming profession. Keep and cultivate your friendships with those who are not in the law–they will help give you balance and perspective.
For further advice, practical guidance and useful insights in relation to individual and workplace-related wellbeing, please have a look the QLS online resilience and wellbeing portal which provides information and support tools for individuals and for legal workplaces to manage the pressures of work and life.
Proctor features new articles on individual and legal workplace-related wellbeing articles on a regular basis.
The Wellbeing Working Group would also like to highlight the excellent services provided by LawCare–free, confidential, individualised and professional advice, and counselling and trauma assistance for QLS members, their staff and immediate family.
If you would like to know more about the Wellbeing Working Group, please contact Rebeca Niebler on firstname.lastname@example.org