Avoid Overwhelm: Common Threats to Wellbeing and How to Improve it

coaching for lawyers avoiding overwhelm
A 3 minute read on workplace wellbeing including 6 tips on how to avoid overwhelm. 

As a former criminal barrister with 19 years’ experience and now a specialist coach empowering female lawyers, here are 6 tips for improved wellbeing at work, and to demonstrate that you are not alone.

1. Identifying a need for, and seeking, support

15 years ago, after working in Kingston, Jamaica as a volunteer barrister supporting attorneys defend capital murder cases,

I returned to a UK practice mainly dealing with child sexual abuse cases. I hit a career crossroads. Did I want to continue in a career with such grave responsibility and depraved subject matters? What could I do to make my everyday working life more palatable and edifying? I sought assistance from a coach.

My first tip is to recognise the need for, and not be afraid to ask for, support. Far from a sign of weakness, it demonstrates a significant degree of emotional intelligence and is a matter of good sense to preserve a healthy state of mind.

This support can come from any number of valuable sources. If not a coach, perhaps you are a member of a women’s networking group or have access to a mentorship programme?

Either way, talking is a helpful outlet to keep perspective and avoid overwhelm. As a result of seeking support, I continued in my career for at least another 10 successful years.

2. Confidence

When returning to work after maternity leave, or when deciding to go for, or having recently received, a promotion, does a lack of confidence hold you back? Time and again clients talk to me about not feeling ‘good enough’ and that at any given moment somehow they are going to get ‘found out’. This is known as imposter syndrome, and can have a negative impact on feelings of work-place wellbeing. By recognising that self-limiting beliefs hinder our own wellbeing, we can work on strategies to make us feel confident and happy. Become aware of, and make strides to silence negative internal chatter by changing the way you talk to yourself. Focus on and remind yourself daily of your strengths. Keep the company of a supportive, encouraging network.

3. Wellbeing routine

Adopt a non-negotiable wellbeing routine, whatever works for you, whether that be meditation, exercise, yoga, keeping active and well-hydrated, practising gratitude or journaling, the list is endless. Whilst some things may slip due to unexpected deadlines and workload, the sooner regular patterns are established, the quicker they become second nature. The benefits become obvious, and a powerful motivator to embed in your life.

4. Priorities and planning

Prioritise workloads and plan the working week with care. It is so easy in this 24/7 digital world to become needlessly distracted. If you have a clear plan of your day/ week with tasks put in order of importance, it will help you stay on course, even when the inevitable interruptions occur.

5. Get back to basics

Strip things back to the bare essentials to avoid overwhelm. Firstly, identify and stick to clear boundaries, particularly important in preserving a healthy work life balance. Then learn to say no and, through practice, work out effective methods of doing so without cutting off future opportunities.

6. Preserve authenticity

At all times live a life true to yourself, not the one others expect. Without authenticity, the risk of internal conflict is high, and likely to cause unnecessary frustration or stress.

Practice = progress. The tips that resonate may take time to incorporate daily. Over time, the positive benefits will undoubtedly outweigh the effort.


Nikki Alderson Biography

Nikki Alderson, specialist coach, speaker and author, and former Criminal Barrister with 19 years’ experience:

  • supports organisations, law firms and barristers’ Chambers to retain female talent; and
  • empowers female lawyers to achieve career ambitions.

Nikki specialises in 3 areas:

  • Women leadership transition and change;
  • Enhanced career break returner support; and
  • Workplace resilience, mental toughness, confidence and wellness.

She is the author of Amazon No.1 Bestseller Raising the Bar: empowering female lawyers through coaching, (https://amzn.to/3fodKQX) nominee for the Inspirational Women Awards, Champion of the Year Category and finalist in the 2020 Women in Law Awards, Legal Services Innovator of the Year and 2019 International Coaching Awards, International Coach of the Year Category.