The start of each new year is traditionally a time for looking both backward and forward, considering what we want for the future, and laying plans – or making resolutions – to help us get there. This year, with demand straining capacity at many veterinary practices and the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to pose challenges, everyone on the veterinary team will do well to prioritize personal wellbeing.
Veterinarians and team members are being tested right now – by increased workload, understaffing and team retention issues, high client expectations, and other challenges. Many of us feel overworked, underappreciated – and definitely stressed. While tending to our emotional and physical wellbeing is always important, this is especially true in times of stress.
Here are five new year’s commitments to consider making to safeguard our collective wellbeing as we enter 2022:
- Focus on what’s within your immediate control. When facing a challenge, consider what parts of the situation you can actually change, and place your effort – and attention – there. This could mean establishing and supporting new personal or workplace habits, or controlling your breathing, or taking a walk. If there’s a way for you to change the situation that’s troubling you, go for it. If not, then remember that you can control how you choose to respond to it.
- Regroup as a team to identify what is and isn’t most helpful at this point in time. Workplace conditions and atmosphere are central to wellbeing, and they affect everyone on the team. Leverage everyone’s observations and suggestions to bring out new ideas. It will also bring you closer together as teammates.
- Arrange time to decompress and come off work mode. This includes stepping away from social media, which can sometimes add to your stress and literally keep you awake if you’re doing it at or near bedtime.
- Make a special effort to spend time with friends and loved ones. Human connections can be the best balm for our emotions. Getting together with people we care about – even on the telephone or a webcam – is a great way to decompress and bring more joy into your life.
- Focus on happy moments and what goes right – especially when the positive moments seem like the exceptions. Our brains are wired by evolution to focus on the negative. But when it’s not needed for an urgent fight-or-flight decision, this can harm our emotional wellbeing. Rather than making a laundry list of everything that went wrong today, make a practice of identifying at least one positive moment as a way to overcome negativity bias.
When work hurts: Dealing with rudeness
Research from around the United States and beyond shows that rudeness has been on the rise across many professions. This is especially true for people whose job is to help others.
If you haven't yet watched our recent webinar on dealing with rudeness, take an hour to learn effective ways to address angry behavior on the job. Led by AVMA’s director of wellbeing, diversity, and inclusion initiatives, “When Work Hurts” explores evidence-based strategies for preventing and diffusing rudeness in the veterinary workplace. It’s free for AVMA members, and you can earn 1 hour of continuing education (CE) credit.
Also check out this related webinar on making workplace civility the norm. View both of these webinars along with a wide range of other wellbeing courses on AVMA Axon®, the AVMA’s digital CE library for all veterinary professionals.