Looking after your mental wellbeing at work

A supplementary guide for paralegals, business support staff in the Intellectual Property profession and those who manage them

Workplace wellbeing tips

By Penelope Aspinall, Mental Health Consultant, Jonathan’s Voice and Rachel Culverwell, CITMA Paralegal, Keltie LLP

Here are some quick wins to look after your wellbeing at work:

  • Keep things in perspective. This can be very hard when everyone is high on stress and adrenaline and work seems to be the most important thing of all. But is it? Allow yourself to recognise and validate what is most important to you.
  • Calm down your amygdala. This is the part of the brain that becomes very active when you are stressed and gets in the way of rational thinking. Taking some simple time out, even just counting to ten or taking some deep breaths (e.g. in for a count of three and out for a count of three) can calm things down enough to be able to make a considered response and see things more clearly.
  • Make sure you take breaks. During the day, at the end of your working day and at the end of your working week. All the evidence shows that people are more productive if they take regular breaks. This is especially important if you are working from home and the day’s natural breaks are not built in.
  • Cut yourself some slack and practise self-compassion. Be a good friend to yourself and recognise when you are being extra self-critical or hard on yourself. Replace these messages with something kind and soothing. Again, this will help calm your system down and help you deal with difficult or distressing feelings more effectively.
  • Make room for the 5 ways to well-being (Connect, Notice, Keep Learning, Stay Active, Give) even in your working day.

And for managing your workload…

  • Be organised. Having a tidy desk to work on and an organised digital environment helps ensure time is not wasted searching for information whether that be in the physical or digital realm. It also helps increase productivity and reduce stress levels.
  • Have a plan. Make a list of tasks that need to be completed that day. You can do this at the end of the day before or the start of your working day, but make sure that this does not become a way of procrastinating.
  • Do one task at a time and start with the most difficult ones while you have the most energy and brain power.
  • Eliminate distractions. Put your phone on silent or aeroplane mode and switch off all alerts or activate ‘do not disturb’. This will allow you time to focus on the relevant tasks. Try setting specific times each day to check your emails and don’t feel you need to respond at once.
  • If you have a company messaging application eg Microsoft Teams, set it to ‘busy’ or ‘unavailable’, when necessary.
  • Take a break. Stepping away from a task often means that when you return to it you are feeling re-energised and better able to concentrate.
  • Time management tools such as the Franklin Covey method and Pomodoro technique can be helpful.

Further information and resources

For more about self-compassion, including some useful practices

Pomodoro Technique
Franklin Covey Method described in Steven Covey The 7 Habits of Highly effective people
Stephen Covey’s 4 Quadrants Time Management Strategies | Time Management Matrix | Ep 9/13

Also in this guide