Wellbeing for Your Practice

In the recent SPVS Covid-19 survey of members two of the areas of greatest concern were the health and welfare of colleagues, and of the individual.

In response we encourage all members of the profession to engage with developing their own wellbeing toolkit, and to help staff and colleagues to do the same. We cannot stress enough that wellbeing should be prioritised to survive and thrive both in the short and medium-long term.

WHO – YOU! Everybody can benefit from having a wellbeing toolkit in place. Even if your current wellbeing is good, life can present unexpected challenges and change (e.g. health of a family member, or the current Covid-19 pandemic). If we do not have the tools at our disposal, and have not trained in using them, we will be less able to cope well with change.

WHAT – Every individual will have different needs and respond differently to wellbeing tools e.g. exercise, diet and routine. Explore the options and find out what works for you. Try techniques you may not think would work for you – you may be very surprised how much you can benefit.

WHEN – Every day you should set aside time to focus on your wellbeing. This can be as little as ONE MINUTE of mindful breathing three times a day, which can still have a profound effect on improving mental and physical wellbeing. It’s important to diarise longer blocks of time in your day and week e.g. a 10 minute mindful cup of tea every morning, half an hour to exercise twice a week, an hour to cook a meal once a week. If this time is not set aside in advance it is often the first thing to get missed.

WHERE – Anywhere! Mindfulness, for one example, can be practiced even during a busy clinic shift. Fresh air and natural light provide additional benefits e.g. have a cup of tea with the window open.

WHY – Evidence based research is adding to a wider understanding and acknowledgement of the many and varied mental and physical benefits of wellbeing practices (some examples are given in the toolkit sections). It’s important to look after your wellbeing for the following reasons:

  • You cannot help others if you are not ‘well’ yourself. Self-care is being responsibly selfish in order to stay fit and well to help and support those you love and/or feel a responsibility towards.
  • Being proactive in managing your own wellbeing means you are less likely to require additional help. Do access available support services, such as Vetlife, as soon as you feel you would benefit from additional help and support.
  • Mental and physical ill-health can present as acute on chronic disease – you may have been managing with chronic stress for some time, but an additional stressor can tip the balance into more acute conditions such as depression and burnout.
  • Encouraging wellbeing in your workplace can have additional longer-term benefits, such as improved staff retention and recruitment.
  • Post Covid-19 there is likely to be a prolonged period of re-adjustment. Developing your wellbeing toolkit NOW will help you to cope and manage inevitable medium to long term change and challenges.

HOW – Just like physical training, you have to train and develop a wellbeing regimen that works for you. The guides above list wellbeing resources and we would encourage you to look at the tools available and invest time and effort into discovering what works for you. Discuss this process openly with your friends, colleagues and staff to normalise wellbeing, and encourage and support others in developing their own toolkit.

We would encourage everyone to watch this vlog from Rosie Allister, helpline manager of Vetlife, and read the associated blog on Covid-19 support for the veterinary professions. https://www.vetlife.org.uk/covid-19-and-support-for-the-veterinary-professions/

Guides to Wellbeing Resources