In this blog from Park House Veterinary Centre in Stafford, Chloe, a Student Veterinary Nurse, shares how we can promote positive mental health within the workplace.

As veterinary professionals, we are devoted to the welfare of animals. Our dedication knows no bounds when it comes to ensuring their health and happiness. However, in the process of caring for others, working hard and experiencing difficult and emotionally challenging scenarios regularly, caring for yourself can often become easily overlooked. Just like the animals that we care for, it is important to remember that we too require compassion, understanding and support.

The veterinary profession is inherently demanding. We encounter challenging cases, emotional clients, and the weight of the responsibility for the lives of the animals in our care. Our work requires not only technical skill, but also emotional resilience. It is essential to recognise that we are not invincible, and we are susceptible to stress, burnout, and mental health challenges.

It is important that we shatter the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace, so that we can foster an environment where open conversations about mental health are not only welcomed but encouraged. Taking care of your own mental health is not a sign of weakness; it is a testament to your strength and commitment to yourself and the work that you do!

Giving yourself permission to prioritise your own mental health and giving yourself some well-deserved self-love allows you to be the best version of yourself and protect yourself from the risks of burnout and compassion fatigue, both of which are regularly seen within our profession.

It is important to remember that self-care looks different for everyone, so find what works best for you and prioritise it regularly. Taking care of yourself is not selfish; it’s necessary for your overall well-being and ability to thrive in all aspects of life.

Here are some self-care tips to consider incorporating into your routine:

  1. Prioritise Sleep: 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night can help you thrive much better during the day. Blue light from devices and screens can make it harder to fall asleep, so reducing blue light exposure before you go to bed can help you get a better night’s sleep!
  2. Move your Body: Engage in regular physical activity that you enjoy, whether it’s walking, dancing, yoga, or any other form of exercise. Physical activity not only benefits your body but also boosts your mood and reduces stress.
  3. Healthy Eating: As much as self-care can totally look like a cheeky weekend takeaway (which is totally fine!) fueling your body with nutritious foods can nourish you from the inside out.
  4. Practice Mindfulness: Take time to be present and mindful in your daily activities. Mindfulness techniques such as meditation, practising gratitude and deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
  5. Set Boundaries: Learn to say no to things that drain your energy or overwhelm you. Establishing healthy boundaries is essential for protecting your time, energy and mental health.
  6. Make Time for Things You Enjoy: Activities and hobbies that bring you happiness and fulfilment should be prioritised!
  7. Practice Gratitude: Take a moment each day to reflect on the things you’re grateful for. It is easy after a hard day to dwell on what has gone wrong, and forget about all of the good things that have happened! Taking five minutes before bed to practise gratitude for the good things that have happened during your day can help shift your perspective and foster a positive mindset. Expressing gratitude to other members of the team can also help bring them up and everybody loves to be appreciated – so try to make at least one person smile with kind words each day!
  8. Seek Support: If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed at work, don’t hesitate to seek support from your friends and colleagues. Which leads me on to my next point…

Other places to find support:

Wisdom provides an enhanced set of wellbeing tools and features to support your wellbeing and wellness.

Vetlife is an independent charity that provides free and confidential support to anyone in the UK Veterinary community with emotional, health or financial problems.

Vetlife have an online chat, and a 24-hour confidential contact line: 0303 040 2551