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Can being more resilient in the workplace help to avoid burn-out?

View profile for Beth Sealey
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The ever-evolving advances in technology have undoubtedly increased procedural efficiency in the legal sector. Platforms such as DocuSign mean that clients no longer have to provide their wet signature for certain documents. Online Data Rooms including Sharefile and WeShare have enabled documents to be safely shared between parties without being printed and posted. Such technological developments have led to many transactions being concluded quicker and more effectively. However, the increased speed at which files are being processed also can lead to growing caseloads, longer days and ultimately, burn-out.

Heavy workloads and long days are not  new concepts in the legal sector. In fact, many lawyers thrive off the tight deadlines and continued pressure. Nevertheless, there has been a substantial amount of literature shared online surrounding the topic of burn-out in the workplace.

The World Health Organisation have recognised burn-out as an “occupational phenomenon” that can manifest itself in symptoms such as fatigue, mental distance, cynicism towards your workplace and reduced professional efficacy. Others have described burn-out as extreme emotional and mental exhaustion. The main concern is that these symptoms will worsen if not dealt with effectively.

Feldon Dunsmore have recently been undertaking ‘Resilience Training’ to prepare ourselves and avoid burn-out.  Resilience training is designed to equip individuals with the means to overcome ‘difficult or challenging life experiences.’ Over the past few months, we have been taking part in group training as well as individual one-to-one sessions with an expert. Thus far, we have focused on being reflective and tackling the stress head on, rather than burying your head in the sand. Asking yourself questions such as “Can I welcome how I feel about this issue?”, “Can I let this feeling go?” or “When will I let this feeling go?” are crucial in identifying the problem and finding a solution to the stress. 

Another method discussed in one of our group sessions is practicing mindfulness. In the workplace, this can be as easy as focusing on a spot on the wall, maintaining steady breathing and clearing your thoughts as best you can. It may also be useful to journal how you are feeling during points of extreme stress to aid the reflective process and track consistencies. 

Whilst many people, myself included, find it difficult to apply these methods in the workplace, I have found myself becoming more aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy mindset outside of the office. For me, regular outdoor exercise assists me in disconnecting from the pressures of work, even if this is just a 30-minute walk at lunch. I have also recently re-joined a yoga class which concentrates on reconnecting the mind and body and releasing the pressures of the day.

Of course, the methods for avoiding burn-out are largely individualistic, but it is vital for employers worldwide to encourage the dialogue amongst their staff.