Expert speakers from the Women's Veterinary Summit give us insight on how to cultivate wellness on an individual level and in the workplace.
Busy veterinary professionals constantly work to balance their professional and personal lives in a healthy way. Speakers at the Women’s Veterinary Summit focused on helping women achieve the work-life balance they want, but struggles with unrealistic perfectionism and compassion fatigue impact men as well as women.
In this Quick Cup of Knowledge, Drs. Marie Holowaychuk and Jen Brandt talk about some unhealthy habits and thoughts that hard-working professionals sometimes have that can lead to unnecessary stress and low satisfaction.
Dr. Brandt asks the question, “How do we prioritize self-care in a profession where you are rewarded for being generous and giving?” It’s an important question to address because most veterinary professionals are not sure when focusing on wellness is appropriate, as they worry how it’ll affect their team and their patients.
Here are some practical ways to encourage personal well-being and well-being in your practice.
If you feel like there’s no room for mistakes in your work, that your thoughts often tend toward the negative, or that there are high standards that you and your teammates could never meet, you may be a perfectionist. Dr. Holowaychuk says that the issue with extreme perfectionism is that it’s unattainable and unrealistic.
The first step in amending that mindset is being aware of when your perfectionism is negatively affecting your work-life balance. When you’re at work until 10pm because you’re proofreading your records so many times, something needs to change. Balanced well-being starts with setting realistic goals or standards and being compassionate with yourself.
Nudges & Cues
When it comes to wellness, the onus is on the individual to embrace the appropriate amount of self-care, especially as leaders in the practice. The team can’t be expected to cultivate healthy habits when the leaders don’t embody wellness themselves. That’s why little “nudges and cues” in the workplace can make an important difference.
Simple environmental prompts in the workplace that encourage wellness are what Dr. Holowaychuk calls “nudges.” Some of these nudges could be having signs up reminding team members to stretch or having healthy choices for snacks in the break room.
Even more important, according to Dr. Holowaychuk, are what she calls “cues.” Cues constitute the culture of your practice. A culture that embraces wellness doesn’t have expectations that people would have to come in or answer work emails on their off days, for example. These instituted policies put emphasis on wellness, suggesting that it is important.
No one seems to have the secret to keeping the right balance, but Dr. Brandt at least has some helpful insight. She says that often when we think of the right balance, we think of a set point rather than a fluctuating system, shifting back and forth as things happen. A more helpful way to think about balance might be integrating all the different aspects of our lives and not losing ourselves in the process.
An actionable way to do that is to take a moment to make priorities and stick to them. If your child is sick, that child is your priority. If the business has a need, that can be the priority at the moment.
Dr. Brandt says that checking in with yourself to ask, “What should my priority be right now to feel well?” is essential in simplifying the task at hand. Look at the most important thing on your list, instead of the 50 things that need to happen that day.
Stay in the Know!
Want to attend a Women's Veterinary Summit yourself? Register for WVC's 92nd Annual Conference to learn with other female veterinary professionals at the Women's Veterinary Summit in 2020.
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