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What worked for me

I wasn’t at breaking point but I think I realised that I didn’t want to get to that point before doing something about it

 

In 2014, after a succession of many years working flat out at the Bar and, before that, as a solicitor, and, before that, doing two degrees at three different universities and, after having had two children, I was a bit … erm … tired (and, no, being on maternity ‘leave’ does not count as time off).

I wasn’t at breaking point but I think I realised that I didn’t want to get to that point before doing something about it. 7 years’ later and my overall well-being and happiness are completely transformed. I put it down to 2 things: yoga and horses.

My well-being journey began after a heavy trial, on the train home from Edinburgh, in December 2014, where I had taken my childhood friend to a Jesus and Mary Chain concert. I was flicking through a copy of the Spectator, that somebody had obligingly left on the seat next to me, and noticed an article about de-stressing at a retreat centre in Surrey. When I googled it, it was eye-wateringly expensive but further research led me to a slightly cheaper option in Somerset, where I met Wendy the yoga teacher. To be honest, I don’t think that doing the ‘yoga’ movements do much on their own: it is everything else that goes with it which seems to make the difference, which is difficult to articulate, but may best be summarised as ‘looking after yourself’.

Six months after that, I was due to go on holiday with a friend and she cancelled at the last minute. I was bored and wondered what I could do to fill the time. I ended up contacting a horse-riding centre in Dorset which re-ignited my huge passion for horses. I now have my own horse (Stormzy) and a big part of my well-being and happiness is down to him. Horses are emotional mirrors: you can’t wear a mask for them because they see behind it immediately. Their sensitivity is what makes it so rewarding to be with them: a fascinating fact is that if you engage your core muscles the horse will engage its core muscles! I have had so many brilliant adventures with Stormzy – from our first solo hack to a pub in Chiddingstone to jumping our first proper hedge at a hunter trial at East Bysshe cross-country course – and I have so many more planned (beach ride, riding across Dartmoor). There have been lots of ups and downs (I had two spectacular failed attempts before finding Stormzy) but the tools that I have had to find during the ‘downs’ have helped me navigate my way through.

It doesn’t matter what direction you pick to get yourself out of mud – whether it is yoga and horses, collecting coins or doing stand-up comedy, I think what worked for me was that I just picked a direction and kept moving forward.

 

Jane Russell

Jane is a barrister specialising in employment law at Essex Court Chambers