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Refresh and Reboot Required

    • 149 posts
    January 4, 2023 7:31 PM EST

    I spent the last week of December splitting my time between some necessary year-end work and much-needed rest and relaxation. Like many, I have to actually work at keeping that balance. As the holidays were approaching I was very much aware that I was in a state of imbalance. A brief road trip was also in my future, so I decided to spend the holidays in a fair-weathered, low-key destination that would permit some time out of doors in fresh air and to take in some beautiful vistas. I landed on Sedona, AZ. I was intrigued by the thought of 'getting away' with my dog to experience some "nature and nurture" that Sedona offers.

    I had an experience (the day after Christmas) that served as a reminder of the importance of establishing boundaries and ensuring that we all maintain space for those things that nurture our psyche and soul (aka work-life balance)! Mind you, this experience was in a "destination location." I had spent the better part of the morning and early afternoon working in front of my computer. When I realized there were just a few hours of daylight remaining, I decided to power down and take a short ride into town to browse a small marketplace - a grouping of different types of shops that cater to visitors and tourists.

    I had no particular agenda as I went from one shop to the next. One of the storefronts caught my interest - it was a shop dedicated to 'mystical' and 'spiritual' things. You name it, they sold it. Crystals, incense, sound bowls, etc. The place was beautiful and had a nice, peaceful vibe. It felt good being in that space. Except for one thing. I walked in at around 4:40 p.m. and, as I entered, I noticed the sole employee in the shop glance at her wristwatch. Closing time was 5:00 p.m. Within a few moments the employee asked if she could help me find something. I thanked her and indicated that I was just browsing. We started making small talk - mostly about her - and it quickly became apparent to me that she was sour and miserable. Engaging with her was a real "buzz kill." I remained in that shop for maybe 7 or 8 minutes, and in that time frame she must have looked at her watch another 3 or 4 times. Everything - from her physical demeanor to the words that she spoke - was a 'downer.' She killed the vibe of what that shop offered. Instead of promoting a sense of welcome and endearing the notion of a making a purchase, her bad energy pushed me to prematurely exit the establishment. The irony is that I was there to escape, and here I found myself feeling like I needed to escape the escape!


    This all happened the day after Christmas. Now, she may have worked a heavy holiday schedule and, perhaps, was exhausted. Maybe she was irritated to be working the day after Christmas. The holidays may very well be an unhappy or sad time for her. I do not know and I do not believe that any of those are excuses; Any one of them, however (understandably), could be a reason for her demeanor.

    So why am I taking the time to write about this experience? We are well aware of the shortages that the veterinary profession is facing. Practices are busy and frequently understaffed. Some feel like there aren't enough hours in the day. Unfortunately, these issues can adversely impact the individuals who are working in those environments - their attitude, their interactions, their performance, and how they come across to co-workers and clients.

    Last year we surveyed a cross-section of our Membership regarding their feelings about their work and role in the profession. Here are a couple of direct quotes from those surveys:

    "Those of us who work in this field are likely to become stressed and overwhelmed owing to the volume and nature of the work. It often feels like the world is on our shoulders—no time to rest, eat, or use the bathroom; constantly ringing phones; very ill pets; very upset and high-strung owners; and what seems like little appreciation and support from owners, coworkers, family members, and friends."

    "We have often had to cancel plans in our personal life to take care of a sick animal, thus leading to resentment of those things we once cared for so highly: animals, their well-being, their family, and the field of veterinary medicine."

    How are you feeling? Are you energized when coming to work? Is your loving, caring, and compassionate self evident to others by your body language and communicating? This new year offers an opportunity for a freshening and rebooting of our mindset and approach to each and every day - how we do things and how we think. It doesn't matter where in the world you live or how grand your workplace. Now's a perfect time for all of us to be thinking about how we take care of ourselves and each other. Caring for ourselves and coming together as cohesive and supportive teams spills over into our outward displays to clients and the empathy we bring to our patients and their caregivers.

    Without self-preservation and keeping our "vessel" full (instead of perpetually depleted) we cannot fully enjoy our work or contribute to the better good of our workplace or relationships. If we as veterinary caregivers are not "whole," then we cannot be good providers of service to our clients, care to our patients, and support to our co-workers. There are truths and ideals toward which we all may aspire, but to actually achieve them we must "walk the talk." Achieving anything requires effort - we must take deliberate action steps to achieve any goal. If you are feeling burned out or resentful about work, finding your way toward work-life balance or a little more "me time" may very well be the key to resolving those feelings. Awareness and a simple acknowledgement of any problem or frustration is a critical first step to addressing it.

    VetVine has put together a survey for our veterinary professional colleagues regarding some wellness initiatives we're considering for 2023. Please help us and share your feedback / take the brief survey

    Time for me to power down. I need to go enjoy today's sunset before it's gone and buy that lottery ticket for this weekend's Mega Millions. Can't win it if I'm not in it.