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3 ways to squeeze wellbeing into your jam-packed workday

In the high-stakes world of legal practice, where demands are relentless and the pressure is constant, finding time for personal wellbeing can often feel like an impossible task, writes Lizzie Williamson.

user iconLizzie Williamson 18 March 2024 Big Law
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The competitive nature of top-tier firms, combined with the ever-increasing demands from clients, has created a culture where working long hours is not only expected but often necessary to keep up. In this environment, the concept of work/life balance seems like a distant dream, with boundaries between work and personal life becoming increasingly blurred. The prevalence of technology, such as smartphones and constant access to emails, only exacerbates the issue, making it challenging to switch off and take time for yourself.

As a result, the legal profession has seen alarming rates of stress, burnout, and mental health issues, with lawyers ranking among the most depressed professionals. The consequences of this relentless grind are all too real and often devastating. But amid the chaos and demands of the legal world, there are practical strategies for prioritising wellbeing and incorporating it into even the busiest of schedules.

Imagine a workday where you have access to a pharmacy filled with all the pills and potions you need to feel energised, focused, and fulfilled. Picture yourself strolling through the aisles, selecting elixirs that enhance your brainpower, boost your memory, and ignite your creativity. Better still, it’s all free! You’d be there without hesitation, right?


Guess what? You don’t need a magical pharmacy to access these transformative benefits. Nope, you already possess an incredible power within you. Think of it as your very own wellbeing laboratory, just waiting to be tapped into.

The secret to unlocking this new level of productivity, focus, and fulfilment? Embracing something simple yet incredibly powerful: an active workday. By integrating more movement into your work routine, you have the power to elevate your wellbeing, increase your cognitive abilities, and cause a profound shift in how you approach and engage with your work.

Now, before you dismiss this idea with an excuse – perhaps, “There is no way I have the time to exercise during my workday. Have you seen my inbox?” – let’s explore these subtle yet powerful strategies that promise to revolutionise your wellbeing within the legal profession.

Micro moves: The key to wellbeing

Micro moves, also known as microbursts or microbreaks, are small yet powerful actions that can have a significant impact on your wellbeing throughout the day. These subtle techniques serve as a release valve, helping you reset your mental state, reduce stress, and regain clarity amid the chaos of your workday. By incorporating these micro moves into your routine, you can manage various work scenarios, balance your emotions, and optimise cognitive performance.

The secret lies in embracing these simple yet effective strategies:

Strategy 1: Box breathing

One powerful micro move is box breathing, a technique that can be employed during critical decision-making moments or when you need to regain composure in high-pressure situations at work. This rhythmic breathing pattern calms the nervous system and enhances focus and clarity, making it easier to make informed decisions under pressure.

To practice box breathing, follow these steps:

  • Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of four.
  • Exhale slowly and completely through your mouth for a count of four.
  • Hold your breath for another count of four.
  • Repeat this cycle for several rounds, focusing your attention on the breath and the counting.
Strategy 2: Walking meetings

Another effective micro move is incorporating walking into your workday, particularly during meetings or phone calls. Research has shown that walking can have a profound impact on boosting creativity and productivity, regardless of whether you’re indoors or outdoors. By breaking free from the confines of your office and taking a quick walk, you can clear your mind, stimulate new ideas, and engage in more dynamic and productive conversations.

To integrate walking into your workday, consider the following:

  • Suggest a “walk and talk” session instead of a traditional sit-down meeting.
  • Walk or pace while on the phone instead of remaining seated.
These simple adjustments not only keep you physically active but can also lead to improved focus, creativity, and overall wellbeing.

Strategy 3: The ‘look behind’ twist

This movement is one of many you can incorporate into your workday that no one will even notice. Designed to gently work your core and back muscles while offering a moment of rejuvenation, it also gives your eyes a much-needed break from the screen, promoting better focus and concentration.

To perform the “look behind” twist:

  • Begin by sitting up tall in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands resting on your thighs.
  • Slowly twist your upper body to the right, crossing your left hand in front of you to rest on your right thigh. Gaze over your right shoulder.
  • Hold this twist for a few seconds, feeling the gentle stretch along your back and neck.
  • Release the twist and gently return to the centre.
  • Repeat the twist to the left side, crossing your right hand in front of you to rest on your left thigh. Gaze over your left shoulder.
  • Perform several repetitions on each side, enjoying the gentle stretch and revitalising sensation.
By incorporating these micro moves into your jam-packed workday, you can prioritise your wellbeing and enhance your productivity, even in the busiest of schedules. Remember, taking small but intentional steps towards self-care can make a big difference in your overall health and happiness as a legal professional. Embrace the power of an active workday and reclaim control over your wellbeing amid the demands of your legal practice.

Lizzie Williamson is a workplace wellbeing expert and the author of The Active Workday Advantage.