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Getting outdoors for solicitors

The Importance of Getting Outdoors During the Working Week for Solicitors

In the demanding world of legal practice, getting outdoors to enjoy the sunshine is difficult to fit into the busy schedule of a solicitor. Stepping outside for some fresh air is certainly a welcome diversion from the mountain of tasks on the desk. But for many, it’s seen as a luxury. However, there is clear evidence that a breather from the office can significantly enhance the well-being and productivity of employees in any profession. The stressful nature of the legal profession make it even more crucial to prioritise outdoor time. Taking time out in the open air provides a respite from the often intense indoor environment of law firms.

In this article, we explore the health and productivity benefits of getting outdoors, and we offer some smart ways that you and your solicitor colleagues can make the most of the sunshine during the working week.

Enhancing Well-Being Through The Outdoors

For solicitors who often find themselves tethered to their desks, the only time for the outdoors may be a quick run from the office to the court house. However, numerous studies highlight the wide range of benefits of spending time outside, particularly in reducing stress and improving mental health. Exposure to natural light and fresh air can elevate mood and foster a sense of calm, which is vital in a high-pressure profession.

Physical Health Benefits of Getting Outdoors

Getting Outdoors for Vitamin D

  • Boosted Immune System: Fresh air is more than a breath of relief; it invigorates the immune system. Have you heard of phytoncides? These are airborne chemicals that are emitted from plants and trees. Phytocides have antibacterial and anti-fungal qualities that not only help the plants fight disease, but also humans who breathe in them in. Suffice to say, a walk in a natural environment with greenery can actually enhance white blood cell activity, helping to fend off illnesses.
  • Reduced Inflammation: Spending time in green spaces has been shown to reduce inflammation. This is particularly beneficial for solicitors who might suffer from stress-related conditions, providing a natural way to alleviate physical discomfort.
  • Enhanced Energy Levels: Nature has a rejuvenating effect. A brisk walk outside can boost energy levels more effectively than a cup of coffee, making us feel more awake and ready to tackle the workload.
  • Vitamin D: In Ireland, Vitamin D deficiency prevalence is high, and this is largely down to our geographical location, with limited access to the sun. While there are Vitamin D supplements available to us, it’s important to take advantage of the sunshine when we can. The sun provides a natural source of this essential vitamin so getting outdoors facilitates this.
Mental Health and Cognitive Benefits of Getting Outdoors

Embracing the outdoors during the working week is not just about improving your physical health. Solicitors who spend time outdoors experience significant improvements in their mental health also. The tranquillity of natural settings helps to reduce anxiety and depression, which are common in high-stress professions.

  • Increased Happiness: Nature exposure has been linked to elevated serotonin levels, reducing the risk of depression and enhancing overall happiness.
  • Better Focus and Memory: Studies indicate that time spent in natural environments can improve memory and cognitive function. For solicitors, this means better retention of case details and sharper analytical skills.
  • Stress Relief and Relaxation: Being in nature provides a meditative effect, lowering heart rates and blood pressure. According to a recent study, even 10-30 minutes spent sitting in the outdoors can increase feelings of calm and comfort. For solicitors, regular outdoor breaks can mitigate the stress accumulated from courtrooms and client meetings. 

Practical Ways to Integrate Outdoor Time

Getting outdoors for lunch breaks

Incorporating outdoor activities into the working week may seem challenging, but there are practical strategies that can make this feasible.

Walking/cycling to work

While this may not be possible for all employees, a great way to avail of the early morning sunshine is to travel to the office either on foot or by bicycle. Not only is this good for the environment but it’s also a form of exercise which has both physical and mental health benefits. An extra bonus is the potential to save money on your fuel and parking costs. 

Outdoor Meetings

Consider the potential to transform routine meetings into walking meetings. Of course for client meetings, either in person or through video conferencing, this option would not be appropriate. However, for certain meetings, such as a weekly catch up with your legal executive or discussing tactics with a colleague, the ‘walk and talk’ approach could be beneficial. This not only provides a change of scenery but also stimulates creative thinking and fosters better communication.

Al Fresco Lunch Breaks

Encourage the solicitors in your firm to take their lunch breaks outside. Even a brief escape from the office to enjoy a meal in a nearby park can provide a significant mental reset.

Breathing Breaks

Implement regular short breaks where team members can step outside, take deep breaths, and refresh their minds. These breathing breaks are especially effective after long sessions of desk work. We share some other stress-busting techniques here.

Creating an Outdoor-Friendly Workplace

Law firms can play a pivotal role in promoting outdoor activities by creating an environment that supports these practices.

Dedicated Outdoor Spaces

Getting outdoors in the working week

While modern offices are kitted out with the latest in ergonomic desks and hi-tech air conditioning systems, older office spaces tend to be functional in their design. If possible, consider the possibilities of developing an outdoor workspace equipped with WiFi and comfortable seating. This allows solicitors to work in a natural setting without compromising onproductivity. However, understandably this may not always be ideal with Ireland’s unreliable weather conditions!

Flexible working arrangements

Since the pandemic, flexible working hours have become the norm across many sectors. The legal profession is no different with plenty of benefits for both the employee and the firm as a business. Firms should consider offering flexible working hours that allow solicitors to schedule time outside during their day. This flexibility can lead to increased job satisfaction and reduced burnout.

Encouraging Outdoor Activities

 

Promote outdoor team-building activities

There are a multitude of benefits in organising team building exercises. From improved communication skills to boosting morale, you can read more about these benefits here. Team building excursions can range from group walks to outdoor retreats, fostering camaraderie and a healthy work-life balance.

The Role of Management

For these initiatives to be successful, support from senior management is crucial. Partners and senior associates should lead by example, showing that it is not only acceptable but encouraged to take time outdoors.

Recognition and Rewards

Everyone appreciates their efforts being recognised, particularly in a working environment. Highlighting and rewarding solicitors who actively engage in outdoor activities can further embed this practice into the firm’s culture. This could be in the form of wellness incentives or public recognition during meetings.

Getting Outdoors should be top of your priority this summer

As Laura Ingalls Wilder once said, “Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat” and we couldn’t agree more! Simply put, the importance of getting outdoors during the working week for solicitors with a heavy workload cannot be overstated. From enhancing physical and mental health to boosting productivity and fostering a positive work environment, the benefits are clear to see. Law firms that prioritise and facilitate outdoor activities will not only see a happier and healthier workforce but also a more dynamic and successful practice.

Now that the summer is here, we have extra hours of daylight to enjoy. So we would like to encourage you to take that step outside, breathe in the fresh air, and reconnect with nature. In doing so, you will find a renewed sense of well-being and purpose, essential for thriving in the demanding legal profession.

And if you’d like to know about improving your wellbeing, we have the perfect webinar for you. In Emotional Resilience and Positive Mental Health for Solicitors, we are joined by Psychological Coach, Jen Martin. Jen provides a masterclass on how to build resilience, reduce stress and learn to live our best lives. You can purchase this webinar and many more on demand here.

*The aim of our blog is to share valuable information and resources with our colleagues. Follow us on social so you get notified of our latest blogs.

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