Every year, thousands of children all over the world say they want to be veterinarians because they love animals. Some of those children grow up to become veterinarians because, indeed, they love animals.
Once you become a veterinarian, however, you see the good and the bad when it comes to taking care of pets – too much of it bad. Tough decisions have to be made. Can a pet survive a procedure, or is it better to put them down so they’re no longer suffering? Owners have to make the ultimate call if they decide the latter, but you’re the one who has to come up with the decision. Your actions determine if little Bruno, the kitten, goes home to a happy family, or doesn’t go home at all.
That is a LOT of heaviness. It’s hard enough to make a life or death decision for one beloved pet, much less many in a short period of time. It’s not an easy profession. In fact, 24.5 percent of male and 36.7 percent of female veterinarians have experienced depressive episodes since veterinary school, which is about 1 ½ times the norm for adults throughout their lifetime, according to the American Veterinary Medicine Association.
So yes, you love animals and that’s why you became a veterinarian. However, if you aren’t able to manage your stress, you very well could become another statistic. For the sake of all the little Brunos and the families that look for your help with their pets, you have to manage your stress level.
Here are a few ways you can manage stress, which will help keep you levelheaded, focused, and away from depression.
1. Trying the Four A’s for Veterinarian Stress Management
According to the Mayo Clinic, when your stress level exceeds your ability to cope, you need to restore the balance by reducing the stressors or increasing your ability to cope, or both. That’s why they recommend using the “Four A’s” to help manage stress: avoid, alter, accept, or adapt.
- Avoid: This one is a little harder for veterinarians because there’s not a lot you can avoid. However, you can take control of your surroundings. Schedule breaks throughout the day to just sit, reflect on your day so far, and cope with what has happened throughout your schedule. Even if it’s just for five minutes.
- Alter: Trying to change the situation for the better is a great coping mechanism. While it might be difficult to communicate your feelings openly, it’s good to know your limitations and plan accordingly.
- Accept: This is probably the one “A” that is the hardest to achieve. You have to be able to accept what is happening, what has happened, and what will happen in the future. This is a time for you to accept the situation and learn from it.
- Adapt: Telling yourself that stress is just a part of the job for a veterinarian and there’s no way around it won’t help you. The three big keys here to take away from this “A”: learning to stop gloomy thoughts in their tracks; saying to yourself, “I’ve got this, I can handle this,” as a personal mantra every day’ and looking at the big picture by asking yourself, “will this still bother me a month from now or a year from now?” Realizing these things helps make stress seem less overwhelming.
2. Use a Stress Management Checklist
We’re always going to have lists. They guide us when we need to buy groceries, pick out furniture, or even deciding the top-10 best musicians of all time. The point is, they’re handy. When it comes to stress management, they’re very handy.
The AMVA has a checklist for stress management, which helps you better understand what you need to do to be less stressed. The checklist includes the following:
- Exercise regularly
- Get sufficient sleep
- Plan for and follow a balanced diet
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Balance work and play
- Delegate tasks appropriately – don’t try to do everything yourself
- Spend quality time with family and friends
- Resolve conflict in a timely and respectful manner
- Take psychological health seriously. Seek professional assistance if bothered by feelings of depression or other signs of mental illness.
- And, last but not least, never underestimate the health benefits of playing with your pet.
As AMVA points out, there is no single strategy that will reduce stress for everyone. You need to figure out your own technique and focus on doing that.
3. Know When to Get Help
If you don’t manage your stress in a timely manner, it will fester and become full-on depression very quickly. From veterinarians fresh out of school to seasoned veterinarians, there might be an inherent desire to show people you can handle any situation. Because of this, you’re bottling up all of the stress and not really coping with the issue. The stress management goes away and the next thing you know you’re crying at home and you don’t really even know why.
When that happens, it’s important to know that there’s absolutely no shame in asking for help. Talking to your friends and family about what you’re going through is a good start. However, if you think you’re beyond that, it’s time to look for professional help. Seeking help from a therapist doesn’t mean you’re weak, it just means that, like all of us, you need a little help. Just being able to get things off your chest – even if it’s to a complete stranger – will help you tremendously and make you feel so much better.
VPR Cloud Can Help Make Some Things Easier
At VPR Cloud, we understand that you have a lot going on as a veterinarian. That’s the reason we created VPR Cloud in the first place – a tool created by veterinarians, for veterinarians.
With VPR Cloud, you no longer have to worry about danger drug interactions or dosages based on weight. VPR Cloud allows you to put in all the information, and the program does the work for you. It really is that easy, and one less thing you have to stress about during the day.
Reach out to us to see how VPR Cloud can help make your day a little less stressful.