Maintaining your health and well-being: some useful tips
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As we all know, life in the legal profession – whether as a student, paralegal, trainee or solicitor – is extremely demanding. The hours are long, the work is rigorous and the daily pressures of deadlines, time recording and the high expectations of clients and colleagues alike can be frankly draining. In the midst of all of this, it is often easy to downgrade your own health and well-being to minor priority status and neglect your own basic needs. Yet studies have demonstrated that doing so can impact significantly upon your professional performance as well as your life as a whole. Here are a few hints and tips which will hopefully help you maintain your standard of living while progressing along this challenging career path.
There are several aspects to address in relation to eating. First, you must eat enough. We all have those hectic days where you don’t seem to have sufficient time to blink, let alone eat. Yet food is the fuel which enables us to cope with such days and foregoing it will do far more harm than good. Rather than skipping breakfast, take something to eat while you travel - and eating lunch at your desk is surely preferable to not eating at all. Keep a stash of snacks in your desk drawer and some loose change in your pocket at all times!
Next, try to eat healthily. Some find it difficult to manage five portions of fruit and veg each day, but just a couple should be achievable. A colleague of mine has recently established a fruit bowl on her desk which she tops up every Monday – that seems to do the trick! Keeping hydrated is also extremely important. Two litres (or half a gallon) is the recommended daily water intake, so strive to keep sipping throughout the day.
It is imperative to get an adequate amount of sleep each night. Failure to do so has been proven to negatively affect your motivation, concentration and mental capabilities in general. Opinions vary on what constitutes an “adequate” amount of sleep although most agree that adults require seven hours on average every night. Try to maintain a good routine by getting up and going to bed at the same times each day. You should also relax a little before bedtime so as to improve your quality of sleep.
For many, it is difficult to find opportunities to exercise when working in an office environment, the very nature of which generally involves sitting at a desk for hours at a time. Some of my colleagues devote their evenings to swimming, running or going to the gym, but for those with other commitments, sadly this is not always possible. However, you should be able to easily integrate some form of exercise into your daily routine. Why not try walking or cycling to the office or, if distance makes this impossible, getting off the bus or train a stop or two early? Choose the stairs over the lift and take a stroll around town during your lunchtime – you’ll feel much better for it!
It cannot be denied that leading a healthy lifestyle is beneficial to your physical, mental and emotional well-being, but it will also enable you to perform to the best of your ability while at work. Never skimp on sleep. Eating something is better than nothing, but eating often and healthily is best of all. Drink plenty of water and strive to keep moving. Most of all, listen to your body and give it what it needs. Your health is paramount – be sure to look after it!