Advice column: since the Christmas break I realise how much stress my work demands create
Dear Ash

I’ve returned to work after the Christmas break but have realised how much I really needed the time off. Prior to the break, I had not been sleeping well and was quite irritable, with constant problems with my digestion. The holiday also allowed me quality time with my children and I’m sure they have appreciated having a calmer parent!

However, the break has made me realise how stressed and unhappy I am because of work. I work very long hours and find it hard to sleep. Unfortunately, as the main breadwinner I have little choice but to earn a certain level of income and therefore cannot reduce my hours. I’m unsure how I can improve my position as I’m starting to resent my lack of work-life balance.

 

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and other legal professionals, which can be put to her via the editor: peter@connectcommunications.co.uk, or mail to Suite 6b, 1 Carmichael Place, Edinburgh EH6 5PH. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland.

The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team.

For one-to-one advice contact Katie Wood, head of admissions on 0131 476 8162, or by email: KatieWood@lawscot.org.uk

Ash replies

I’m glad that you had a relaxing break and were able to have an opportunity to reflect on your current working position. We are often so embroiled in our day-to-day work routines that we fail to realise how much stress we carry around.

Take the initiative to reassess your work-life balance, as although you feel you are not able to reduce your hours, there are some steps you can take at least to help reduce stress levels. First, you say you cannot afford to reduce your hours, but if you review your finances you may be able to find ways to reduce your outgoings and thereby potentially reduce the hours you need to work.

Also consider ways that you can adopt some mindfulness techniques, for example through taking up some form of yoga or exercise on a regular basis. This will not only help lift your general mood, but will also allow you to take time out for yourself. This could be as basic as going for a 30 minute walk at lunchtime, giving you time to clear your head away from your desk.

Separately, consider speaking to your manager about more flexible working. If you are working long hours then you may be able to suggest being able to work from home at least one day per week? Sometimes cutting out the commute to work, and indeed distractions in the office, can help improve productivity and therefore allow you to feel more in control of your to-do list.

January is normally the month of reflection for most people; with an abundance of new year resolutions you will therefore not be alone in how you are feeling. Try to take some initial steps to improve your work-life balance, and make your wellbeing a priority and not just a temporary resolution for this year.

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