How to Combat Stress in the Veterinary Clinic
Working in the veterinary field can be incredibly rewarding. It can also be incredibly stressful. Managing a busy workload, coupled with the emotional factor of the job, can have even the best-composed person feeling on edge. And stress isn’t just something that impacts us mentally. It can also cause a number of physical side effects as well. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to alleviate some of this burden and enjoy a more even-keeled daily life. Here are a few suggestions to consider below.
- Incorporate regular exercise into your daily life
- Get an adequate amount of sleep every night
- Follow a well-balanced diet
- Delegate tasks to others on your team
- Take occasional time off
- Don’t avoid conflict, resolve it as soon as you can
- Spend time with your family (especially the four-legged ones)
Of course, as they say in sports, the best defense is often a good offense. Preventing stress from occurring in the first place is always preferable to having to deal with it once it happens. There are several ways to avoid situations that will trigger a stress response. Here are a few:
Prepare Ahead. If you know that certain tasks or individuals tend to increase your stress levels, take action in advance to mitigate those effects. For example, if you know a client is bringing in a pet that doesn’t react well to other animals, try to schedule them as either the first or last appointment of the day to minimize those interactions.
Learn to Say ‘No.’ As tempting as it may be, you don’t have to be everything to everyone – even if you are the head DVM, practice owner or practice manager. In fact, the higher you are on the totem pole, the more of your workload you should be delegating to others on your team. If you can’t take on additional work without feeling overloaded, then be honest about it.
Set Expectations. If you have a jam-packed schedule, make sure each client you see understands the limitations you are facing. Let them know if you only have a certain amount of time available before the next appointment starts. And if they still have questions or concerns, schedule some time to discuss those things over the phone at a later time.
Know When to Say ‘When.’ There’s no hard and fast rule that says you must maintain every client who ever walks through your doors. The truth is, there are just some people who are difficult to deal with. If there are certain pet owners that you know will only cause stress to you and your team, it may be best for everyone if you ask them to find another provider.
Walk Away. Taking a short break can do wonders for one’s mental and emotional health. Learn to recognize the signs of stress and take proactive measures. If you’re beginning to feel stressed, walking a way for a few minutes might be just the thing you need to get control over the situation and ward off those feelings of frustration before they have a chance to fester.
These are just a few of the many ways a person can deal with and hopefully avoid stress. Give them a try and find what works for you. And remember – at the end of the day, your wellbeing is worth the investment of time and attention. Take care of yourself first so that you will be in the best position to care for your clients and patients when the time comes.