As rewarding as it is to be doing what you love, working in the veterinary industry can be incredibly demanding. From maintaining records and managing a bustling schedule to caring for and checking on patients, there’s always something to be done. And if your practice accepts emergency visits, even more so. Some days, it can seem like the concept of work-life balance is impossible to achieve. If you or your team struggle in this area, as so many in our industry do, here are a few things to consider.
Why Work-Life Balance Matters
First, let’s explore a few of the many benefits that come from achieving a healthy balance between your professional life and your personal life. In other words – here’s why you should care:
Less stress means improved mental health
Having time to exercise and eat better leads to better physical health
Improves and strengthens personal relationships
Increases engagement and performance at work
Boosts creative thinking
Provides a greater sense of fulfilment and contentedness
Here’s how to achieve all of these things…
Get comfortable saying ‘No’.
There will certainly be times when you’ll have to work past your normal working hours. Veterinary medicine simply isn’t a 9-5 job. That said, it shouldn’t be something you’re doing on the regular. Likewise, taking on too much work during the day can leave you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, which can impact the quality of your performance and ultimately harm the client experience. Know when to say ‘no’ and get comfortable doing so.
Don’t take work home.
Speaking of work, once you head home for the day, try to leave whatever it was you were working on behind you. Easier said than done? Sure. But it’s important if you want to achieve more balance in your life. If your time spent with family is overshadowed by constant thoughts about work, nobody will benefit. Do your best to compartmentalize as much as you can so you can be in the moment and genuinely enjoy your time outside of the clinic.
Taking care of others is a core part of your job. You care for your patients. You support your clients and your colleagues. At the end of the day, it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing left to give. But caring for your own needs is critical to your ongoing mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Allow yourself opportunities to relax, whether it’s through meditation, yoga or simply sitting in a quiet room with a cup of coffee. Take up a hobby or two that will help you focus on something other than work.
Ask for help and/or delegate.
If you’re in a position of management, delegating some of your tasks to others on the team is essential to helping you gain more balance. You’ve worked hard to source and retain highly talented individuals. Trust them to pull some weight when it makes sense. If you’re not in a position of leadership, don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues for a helping hand once in a while. It’s not a sign of weakness. In fact, it’ll only serve to strengthen communication and trust amongst team, so go for it!
Striking a balance between work and home life can be challenging for anyone, but in the veterinary industry it’s doubly so. It’s important to remember that while this may be your chosen career – and certainly one that you’re passionate about, it’s not your entire life. Try putting the above tips into action and see if you can achieve a healthier exchange between yourself as a professional and yourself as a person. The peace, health and wellbeing that will follow will make it well worth the effort.