Why is self-care important for veterinary professionals?
The veterinary industry attracts people with a drive to help others, as well as high levels of compassion and empathy. These traits enable veterinary professionals to experience 'compassion satisfaction', but this can take its toll personally and professionally over time.
It's inevitable that you'll have repeated exposure to very sensitive cases, traumatic events and euthanasia, as well as occupational demands, compassion fatigue or burnout can occur. Taking care of yourself is important for you to be able to serve and care for others, and maintain the highest standards of care and compassion in the workplace.
The results from my recent survey were not surprising for today's busy world. Leading our full and rich lives, we simply don't have time to pamper ourselves. Besides, with so many other things to do, self-care sometimes feels like an indulgence, or worse - a selfish act!
Self-care is about giving the world the best of you, not what's left of you. You can't pour from an empty cup so taking the time to protect your physical and mental well-being is vital.
Q1. When you wake up in the morning, what do you do?
I meditate, write in my gratitude diary and have a good breakfast = less than 1%
Gather my thoughts and set my intention for the day = 6%
Stretch it out, wake up and go = 18%
Reach for my mobile and scroll = 75%
My Top Tip: Start Your Day Right
"Run the day, or the day runs you".
Your day is pretty much formed by how you spend your first hour. Here are some ideas on the best ways to start your day:
Upon waking, take just a couple of minutes to think (or write down) what you are grateful for. Practising gratitude reduces stress hormones and improves mood, among other benefits.
Don’t reach for your phone. Give yourself an hour of tech-free time to ensure you start your day from a place of inner peace.
Meditate. For 1 minute or 15 minutes, whatever time you have. It encourages a moment of mindfulness and can help ground your feelings and emotions to help you manage the challenges of your day.
Q2. How often do you schedule 'me' time?
30 minutes every day = 12%
A whole day each month = 4%
As and when I can = 57%
What's 'me' time = 27%
My Top Tip: Put Yourself in Your Diary
"You can't pour from an empty cup".
Block off some time in your diary in advance and make it non-negotiable and non-movable. This could be a 30 minute slot every day, or a whole day every month. Lack of time to yourself can cause you to build up resentment that can harm both you and your relationships. Taking ‘you’ time gives you the opportunity to refresh and re-energise. It allows you to think more clearly and make better decisions.
Q3. How often do you compare yourself to others?
Never. I am on my own journey = 10%
I have occasional 'comparitisis' = 29%
Quite regularly, but I'm aware = 34%
Constantly = 27%
My Top Tip: Compare Yourself to Yourself
“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms”.
It’s OK to look at others and identify things they are good at, but don’t use it to define yourself. It doesn’t move you farther ahead, improve your situation, or help you find peace. It just feeds your shame, fuels your feelings of inadequacy and ultimately, it keeps you stuck.
There is no one correct path in life. Everyone has their own unique journey.
Q4. How often are you still and peaceful?
Very regularly. I intentionally have time away from distractions = 4%
Fairly regularly. I take every opportunity to be = 13%
Occasionally, when my schedule allows it = 62%
Never! I like being busy! = 21%
My Top Tip: Find Your Happy Place
"The quieter you become, the more you can hear" - Ram Dass
Find a place that is yours, whether that be a tranquil space in your home, a piece of grass at your favourite park. Sit in a comfortable position, gently close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Just 5 minutes a day will significantly improve your stress levels and improve your overall brain function.
Q5. How easily do you forgive?
Very easily. I let go, and turn the page = 15%
Fairly easily, but it's an effort = 36%
It takes a while, but I get there = 34%
Not very easily = 15%
My Top Tip: Let it go
"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you".
Forgiveness is not necessarily about the other person and relieving them of some sort of burden you feel they should have. They might carry that burden with them even when you tell them you've forgiven them. They might feel no remorse whatsoever even without your forgiveness. It is not always about them, but it is always about you. You are the one who is most bothered by being angry and upset, nobody else. You have to deal with those thoughts, those feelings and that pain. Once you let go of that, you'll feel lighter and happier.