Making 2021 Great, Part 2: Focus Your Veterinary Team on Self-Care

vet looking out animal hospital window

By Staci Welsh, CVPM, CVT, LVT 

As part of our resolution to make 2021 great, we’re focusing on a multitude of aspects within the veterinary practice—and at home—that encourage positivity, self-care, and job satisfaction. By leaving 2020’s negatives behind, we’re setting ourselves and our veterinary practices up for success this year. To start, let’s focus on self-care and how you can boost your team’s mental and physical health for increased happiness, health, and efficiency.

Practicing daily self-care techniques leads to a decrease in stress, compassion fatigue, and burnout, while rejuvenating your mind and body for the challenges ahead.

Why is your veterinary team so stressed?

It’s no secret that veterinary medicine is a stressful career choice. From cranky clients and fractious patients, to financial constraints and euthanasia, it can be tough to remain empathetic, level-headed, and optimistic day after day. 

With the rise of new difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be even more challenging for your team to face the day’s schedule with their typical smiles and excitement. Even those puppy and kitten appointments may fail to fill your technicians with glee, especially when last year’s pets are returning for the first annual visit, just as unsocialized and untrained as when they were puppies.

But, despite the challenges that face your veterinary team, you can band together and boost each other up, creating a bright and positive work environment that overcomes these difficulties. As a veterinary practice manager, your team looks to you to remain calm, cool, and collected during stressful times, and you can be an excellent advocate for their mental health and self-care. Set a good example for your team by demonstrating your own self-care techniques. After all, as the captain of your ship, your team will follow suit.

veterinary practice manager taking break

Essentials for veterinary team self-care

When designing a self-care plan for yourself and your team, take stock of what is most beneficial for promoting mental health, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Self-care is typically divided into mental and physical components, with some overlap. For example, yoga demonstrates how it can fall in both the mental and physical self-care categories, and many people find this exercise especially restorative. Some self-care essentials may include:
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Adequate sleep
  • Positive thinking
  • Freedom from technology
  • Enjoyable activities
While you can’t incorporate all these aspects into an in-practice self-care plan, you can take steps toward encouraging your team to relax and unwind.
Leave work stress where it belongs—at work. It will still be there tomorrow, so take the time to enjoy your friends, family, and hobbies while at home.
veterinarian with yoga mat

How you can implement self-care in the practice

Implementing self-care practices for you and your team in your busy hospital can be challenging, but it is doable. And, with luck, your leading example will carry over into your team’s home life, encouraging them to return each day refreshed and excited to tackle whatever challenges lie ahead. To boost your team’s mental and physical health while on the job, try the following tactics:

  • Create a mental health space — A private area to decompress, release emotions, and recoup is an excellent gift to offer your team. All too often, we are overwhelmed with the range of emotions we feel during the course of our day, and there’s no place or time to work through them. Offering a safe space, and time to use it, will help your team manage their burdens.
  • Force your team to take lunch breaks — On busy days, your dedicated team may forgo lunch to provide care for a critical patient, catch up on paperwork, or answer phones. But, force your team to take at least a short break to unplug from work, eat, and get off their feet. 
  • Begin and end your day on a positive note — Set the tone for the day by incorporating positivity into your morning rounds. Take a moment to be mindful and thankful for the skills, knowledge, and ability to save lives, rather than focusing on the negatives. And, at the end of the day, repeat this exercise. Celebrate your wins, work through the losses as a team, and concentrate on how much you helped your community. Then, take these thoughts home with you, rather than euthanasias and cancer diagnoses.
  • Incorporate exercise sessions during breaks — If your team enjoys yoga, pilates, or Zumba, see if you can set up group sessions before or after work. Dedicated long lunch breaks can also incorporate 15 to 30 minutes of exercise to provide an endorphin boost.
  • Practice meditation and mindfulness — A decent meditation session can take less than 10 minutes to fit into your busy schedule, so consider blocking off a time at the beginning of the day to meditate. While an end-of-the-day meditation session will help reduce stress and provide a greater sense of wellbeing, meditation also improves focus, making it beneficial for the start of a hectic day.
  • Purchase healthy snacks for the team — Donuts and pizza seem to be staples of every veterinary practice, but those snacks can wreak havoc on your team’s nutrition. Stress eating is part of the job, so supply healthy snacks to your entire team, such as fresh fruits and veggies, mixed nuts, protein bars, and flavored waters.
healthy snacks for veterinarians

How you can encourage self-care at home

A restored, relaxed, happy team starts at home, and your staff can carry that mindset throughout the daily work schedule with in-practice self-care techniques. By setting up a self-care plan at home, your team will be better equipped to handle the various stresses of the day. Encourage your group to try the following methods:

  • Separate work from home — Leaving your work behind at the end of the day is one of the best ways to practice self-care. Veterinary medicine-related stress can all too easily follow you home if you let it, so avoid replaying the day’s events all night long. 
  • Search for quick, healthy recipes — As tempting as it is to grab another greasy bag of fast food on the way home, a healthy, home-cooked meal provides better nutrition and energy. Keep a stash of quick, healthy recipes that can be made, even after a long day on your feet.
  • Get adequate sleep — Too little sleep can lead to mistakes, which only heightens your stress and negative feelings toward your job. Strive for a full eight hours of restful shut-eye each night to wake up refreshed for the day ahead.
  • Focus on the positive aspects of the day — Rather than dwelling on the negatives of the workday during your drive home, think of all the things that went right. By focusing on the positives—and your gratitude—you’ll create a better mindset and more cheerful outlook.
  • Exercise daily — While you may feel too exhausted to exercise after work, and you can’t bear to wake up any earlier, daily exercise will help you feel better, both physically and mentally. Even a quick walk around the block with your pooch will boost endorphins and your energy.
  • Enjoy your favorite hobbies — Taking time for yourself to enjoy activities outside of work is a wonderful form of self-care. By focusing on something other than the stresses of veterinary medicine, you allow yourself to rest, relax, and recover. 

With a keen focus on self-care for the upcoming year, you and your team will experience a more positive work environment and be able to better handle the stresses that come with veterinary medicine. Restore your mind, body, and soul with physical and mental self-care techniques, and you’ll see what a difference it makes for you and your veterinary team.

Looking for additional ways to make 2021 your best year yet? Schedule a 30-minute demo of our all-in-one client communication and engagement solution to see how the Vet2Pet team can help yours.

Staci Welsh CVPM, CVT, LVT

Staci Welsh, CVPM, CVT, LVT, previously worked with the Vet2Pet team as the director of strategic partnerships. Staci has enjoyed a long career in veterinary medicine, and she is passionate about building industry relationships and helping practices use the latest technology to grow and thrive. Questions about this blog? Email info@vet2pet.com.

Share this post
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email

What's more popular than the latest designer doodle?

It’s Bits and Bytes, the newsletter from Vet2Pet’s founder and CEO, Stacee Santi, DVM! Full of the latest on veterinary technology, team wellbeing, client experience, and more, Bits and Bytes can be delivered directly to your inbox each month!

Cookies aren't just for dogs!
We use them to ensure a great experience for you too. By browsing this website you agree to this usage.