Blurred boundaries

LawCare’s Elizabeth Rimmer looks at how to maintain healthy boundaries between work and home life, avoiding stress and burn out

If you’re feeling completely overwhelmed, you’re not alone. At LawCare, the legal mental health charity, we’ve heard from many legal professionals over the past year or so who have been struggling whilst working at home and are finding it hard to switch off from work. The boundaries between the two have become increasingly blurred and many are working longer hours than ever before.

It is likely you might be experiencing significant stress at the moment. Our stress response is designed to be used in short bursts of up to 30 minutes, to escape a threat to survival. A boost of cortisol, adrenalin and noradrenalin gets our heart racing and blood pumping, enabling us to escape an animal chasing us, for example.

It is tempting when we are stressed to bury our heads in the sand and do even more work to try and assuage the feeling of panic 

In modern life, a wild animal has been replaced by a difficult client, a deadline or an overflowing inbox, but our stress response is the same. Because these threats can often be ongoing, combined with the stresses presented by Covid-19, many are existing in a near-constant state of stress, which can lead to an increased risk of burn-out. 

As a legal professional, your greatest asset is your brain and it is essential you look after and protect your wellbeing in order to do your best work and stay well. It is tempting when we are stressed to bury our heads in the sand and do even more work to try and assuage the feeling of panic.

In fact, we need to do the opposite – take a break, set in place healthy boundaries between work and life outside work, and teach ourselves how to switch off. 

Here are some tips to help you regain some balance.

Managing healthy boundaries 

On finishing work for the day

If you are still struggling, you might want to look at other options to help tackle your situation. It’s easy to let healthy habits slip when we are at stressed, but make sure that you eat well, get to bed at a reasonable time and find time to do some exercise. These are essential basic requirements of staying mentally healthy.

Consider taking some time off work. Most of us are exhausted from carrying the emotional load of the last year or so – we all need time to rest, relax, recuperate and reset, as well as something to look forward to.

It can help to talk to someone. Talking your problems through makes a real difference and provides reassurance you are not alone. You can contact the free, independent and confidential LawCare support service on 0800 279 6888, email or visit and/or make an appointment with your GP.

Elizabeth Rimmer is the chief executive of LawCare