They always say time changes things, but you have to change them for yourself.

(Andy Warhol)


Stuff happens. 

Things happen around us and to us.

Sometimes we have little or no control over changing circumstances and events.

But always there are things that we can do to make things better.

Whether you’re preparing for a three hour mock exam or a two-day cross-examination, setting up innumerable completions for Friday or shutting the office door at 10pm, things can be done to make things different.

We’ll look at a few ways in which we can regain a greater sense of agency in professional life.

We need to be able to take care of ourselves before we can think about looking after others.

Check out the Five Ways to Wellbeing*:


Evidence indicates that feeling close to, and valued by other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world.

It’s clear that social relationships are vital for wellbeing and for providing a buffer against mental ill health.

Connect with the people around you, with family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours, at home, work or in the local community.

Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in them.

Building these connections will support and enrich every day.

Be active

Regular physical activity is linked with lower rates of depression and anxiety.

Exercise is vital for slowing cognitive decline as we age and for promoting wellbeing.

Discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

Take notice

Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present moment directly enhances wellbeing.

Appreciating what is happening around us and within us can help us to self-monitor and be more aware of what’s really going on in one-to-one and group situations.

In essence, the practice of mindfulness is simply about taking notice.


Continued learning through life enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction and a more active life.

This can be particularly helpful as we approach the end of our professional lives and think about making lifestyle adjustments for life after the office or chambers.


Participation in social and community life has been shown to enhance wellbeing. 

An altruistic frame of mind can inoculate against mental illness.


*The Five Ways to Wellbeing are a set of evidence-based actions which promote people’s wellbeing.

The activities are simple things individuals can do in their everyday lives.

The Five Ways were developed by the New Economics Foundation from evidence gathered in the UK government’s Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing. 

The project, which was published in 2008, drew on research about mental capital and mental wellbeing through life. 

The Five Ways to Wellbeing are a summary of the project’s findings.  

They have been used by health organisations, schools and community projects across the UK and globally to help people take action to improve their wellbeing.

They have been used in many different ways, for example to get people to start thinking about wellbeing, in developing organisational strategy, measuring impact, assessing need, staff development and to help people to incorporate more wellbeing-promoting activities into their lives.

(This is an edited excerpt from my book A Lawyer’s Guide to Wellbeing and Managing Stress.)