Working in the veterinary industry usually means you’re working at about 100 miles an hour. It’s hard to come home, switch off and forget patients, cases and whether or not you locked the DD cupboard at the end of the day. If you throw a hefty dose of anxiety into the mix it intensifies ten-fold. On top of having a hectic workday, anxiety is all-consuming, exhausting, isolating and can feel claustrophobic, so letting your mind have some rest and freedom from thinking about everything and especially from worrying and stressing about things is so important. It’s something that everyone needs and something that I found to be the most important coping mechanism with anxiety.
I may have borrowed this analogy from the film Friends With Benefits, but stick with me: you need to find your mountain top. This means finding a space where you can find peace, escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and ultimately switch off your mind for a few minutes. As it’s a metaphor, I don’t mean that you need to literally find a mountain near you and hike up it every day. You just need to find a space that allows you to escape to a place of peace and have some time to allow your brain to stop thinking and just rest. It could be an outside space near you, sitting in a quiet corner of your house with a cup of tea, laying in the bath, sitting in your car, wandering the streets of your village/town/city. Whatever you need to find a space for your mind to rest and allow yourself a mental break. It may be for an hour, it may only be for a minute, but however long you manage to escape will be time well spent.
While I’m applying this to my life as an RVN and suffering with anxiety, I think every one of us needs to have somewhere to just switch off no matter your current mental state. Consuming your time with focusing on projects, crafts, pets, children or hobbies is a great distraction but downtime to focus on nothing is just as vital in guiding your mental health to a better place. I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression for over 15 years and it has taken me a long time to be able to work out what works and what doesn’t! I know that some things I’ve been through will only apply to me and my condition, but this is one that I feel strongly can help every person, especially in our fast-paced working environment. It’s important to fit downtime into each day, whether it’s at home or at work. It may be going to your mountain top, or popping into the wards to cuddle a patient (something that our human equivalents don’t have the luxury of doing!) or to go for a walk on your lunch break if you’re lucky enough to have one (which is a whole other topic…)
There are some fantastic apps that can help you to reach a place of peace and calm through guided meditation. Learning these calming techniques can teach you to switch off, as a lot of us find that a really difficult thing to do (myself included)! I personally use Headspace but there are many more out there so if one doesn’t work for you, or meditation itself doesn’t work for you, keep searching until you find something that works and allows you to find peace. Mindfulness is another fantastic tool to aid with this, but I feel this post would be extraordinarily too long if I tried to discuss that now! I’ll save that for another day.
This is something you can implement starting today, so go forth veterinary friends and find your mountain top!