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Tiredness and Water Jugs

If someone were to ask me to describe my perfect evening, I can think of no source of greater joy than sitting at home in my pyjamas doing nothing. There are times at the Bar when you feel a tiredness that is so bone-sapping that it permeates every fibre of your being.

Yet somehow you switch into barrister mode at court, and you manage to maintain that momentum for as long as you need to. Often with no refreshment whatsoever, unless you resort to drinking the murky contents of the polycarbonate water jug with the ill-fitting lid.

Of course, drinking from said water jug inexorably leads to two things: (i) spilling some of its contents over your papers and blue book, then surreptitiously mopping up the puddle while trying to keep track of what your opponent is saying, and (ii) having a desperate urge to pee during your own cross-examination.

We all know perfectly well that eating grab bags of Hula Hoops, Quavers and Walkers in quick succession on the train back to chambers is not deemed to be the best way to acquire nutrients. And yes, it would be lovely to have the time and inclination to actually use the gym to get energy and endorphins flowing rather than spend what equates to £319.96 on one session of Body Pump so far this year.

So: what to do?

First, have a blood test and see if there is anything that needs an immediate remedy. Most of us have incredibly low Vitamin D levels and this affects our overall health: astonishingly a morning hanging around the Palais de Justice at Willesden does not provide the same level of sunlight as the Costa del Sol. Iron deficiency anaemia is also very common.

Second, be proactive about your own diary management: putting in keep frees to recalibrate is important. If you feel too junior to have the confidence to call the shots with your diary, ask a more senior member of chambers for their advice and support. If you do not feel able to ask someone from your own chambers, feel free to get in touch with me: my details are below.

Third, have a look at the five drivers of personal wellbeing on the Wellbeing at the Bar website. I find myself returning to that section again and again, as its contents are so straightforward and true.

Fourth, and I say this as someone who is not a self-help book person, I really recommend The 4 Pillar Plan by Dr Rangan Chatterjee. The four pillars he alludes to are relaxation, food, movement and sleep. I found it very easy to read, with colourful photographs and plenty of common sense.

Finally, take the opportunity to engage with the Wellbeing at the Bar programme and give us feedback on how we can continue to improve the working culture at the Bar. The list of contacts can be found here. There has been a huge amount of progress over the last few years, but there is so much more to come.

Victoria Wilson is the Vice Chair of the Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group, a joint FLBA Wellbeing Representative with Cyrus Larizadeh QC and a member of Goldsmith Chambers.

 Follow her on Twitter @BarristerWilson