Fostering new behaviour

Posted by Katie McKenna, marketing and engagement director at Legal Futures Associate Casedo

Katie McKenna

McKenna: We need to think about others

Torrential rain was forecast and when it arrived, the world turned dark and grim. During the first few hours, I spotted that the local dog shelter was experiencing flooding and called out for emergency foster care for the dogs they homed.

I won’t lie – this melted my frozen heart and I got in touch to see if I could help. A few hours later, Calypso was in my living room with her wagging tail and soulful eyes.

We’ve had the joy of her company for the past few days, and it has taught me the following lessons.

Say yes to opportunity

Boundaries are important in work and personal life – I don’t dispute that. Our existence can become stagnant and monotonous without the odd risk or doing something out of the ordinary to inject a little fun and joy.

I am so glad that I impulsively said yes to looking after Calypso and I have been rewarded with such joy as a result.

She has thrown my usual routine out the window and replaced it with something much better for both of us. I also get a warm fuzzy feeling when I think about the fact that I am giving her the experience of a nicer home life whilst supporting my local dog shelter.

You are never too busy for a break

We are all so busy now – especially those of us who have been adding home-schooling hours to our regular business day. Breaks during any task are important but are often neglected with time being at a premium.

Regular breaks can help increase productivity and reduce stress. They’re also shown to help you retain information – a boon in the legal profession with so many cases to deal with at once.

I am lucky that taking regular breaks during my working day is so much easier now that I have Calypso. She needs attention, walks and interaction. She is an amazing colleague that takes my mind off work briefly to allow me to go back to my laptop refreshed and brimming with ideas.

Go outside

When the weather is awful and lockdown restrictions are in place, it can be hard to find the urge to leave our cosy homes. Since Calypso entered my life, I spent much more time outdoors than usual in all types of weather and I have felt some amazing benefits.

Being in nature has been proven to increase overall happiness levels and it also helps drive creativity and reduce stress.

When things start to get too much, go for a walk to clear your head, reward your lungs with fresh air and move your body. Leave your phone behind too. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Kindness matters

We like to think that we are so important and that our little bubble is the only one that matters, but if the past year has taught us anything, it is that we need to think about others and how we can assist.

We wear masks, wash our hands, and keep a safe distance to protect ourselves and others but what more can we do to help others who may need it?

A few ideas: If you’re lucky to be employed, you could donate to a local foodbank or charity. You can support your local business economy by choosing small when popping to the shops for essentials or opting to get a meal delivered.

If you are furloughed or working reduced hours, you could dedicate your time to a local cause. If you see an injustice occur, don’t just be a passive bystander – do something to help. This is mutually beneficial as giving back in some way is shown to increase our overall happiness levels.

Sh*t happens

There are certain downsides to dog fostering. They happen frequently and need to be picked up in a scented bag and put in the bin.

If this isn’t a perfect analogy for ‘eating the frog’ and doing the difficult stuff first, I don’t know what is.

There are always problem files, difficult clients and issues that consume us with fear and worry. However, the more we procrastinate, the more ghoulish and horrifying the task grows.

You will feel much better in the long run once you start the task, and you’ll feel so accomplished when it’s over.


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