You can take steps to protect yourself and build up resilience to cope with the pressures of life at the Bar. These include:
- Get yourself a mentor, and/or speak to a friend/someone you trust (this may be someone outside Chambers). The Bar Council runs a number of mentoring schemes which you can find at www.barcouncil.org.uk/supporting-the-bar/bar-mentoring-service/.
- Take breaks between cases or after every couple of cases.
- Physical exercise (this does not need to be strenuous, just walking for half an hour every day has proved to be beneficial).
- If you have a tendency to dwell on things that haven’t gone well you might be helped by cognitive behavioural therapy – defined by the NHS as “a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave”. See generally http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cognitive-behavioural-therapy/pages/introduction.aspx. There are many resources on the internet, as well as advice on courses and therapists.
- Some people might also be helped by techniques such as Mindfulness. For the NHS description and further information see http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/mindfulness.aspx. Simple mindfulness techniques are available on the Headspace app at https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app.
- Phone a friend. Make sure you keep details in your phone of colleagues who may be able to help if you find yourself in need of help at court. It may be a good idea to find out if any of your fellow members of chambers or friends at the Bar will be in court in the same place as you, and make sure you have their numbers. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and guidance if you need it.
Michael Jones advises:
- Make sure that you ask your clerks for ‘prep’ days to be kept free before any lengthy or complex case begins.
- Take a long-weekend off every 6 weeks or so (I take a Friday afternoon and a Monday off).
- And TAKE A HOLIDAY!
Chambers Director Simon Boutwood agrees:“If you’re under pressure, the simplest point is talk to your clerks. They really do want to help and they will understand. They ought to be able to work out a plan with the pupil/young barrister to ensure that time is set aside for preparation, and that your diary is managed to ensure you don’t have final or difficult hearings on consecutive days, for example, or by leaving gaps between cases.”
For further information and resources please see www.wellbeingatthebar.org.uk.