All veterinarians know that an 8-hour schedule is rarely kept, because there’s always something else to do. And the fact that we are dedicated to the well-being of our patients too makes it even more difficult when we have to think about ourselves. Why do we often believe that the well-being of our patients comes before our own?

When we have a job, we try to come in early, accomplish our tasks, apply our knowledge and learn new things, but why aren’t we like that in our personal lives, and why do we find it hard to make time for ourselves? Often when we ask ourselves these questions, our answer is BECAUSE OF WORK!

This week is Mental Health Awareness week and The Webinar Vet has brought a free to watch webinar called ‘How can you use Breathwork to improve your mental health’ given by Chloe Hannigan aka VetYogi. I recommend this webinar, as breathwork has been shown to lower our anxiety levels, stress, improve our memory, among other things and these may be some exercises that we can adopt in our day to day life to raise awareness and prioritise our mental health.

When I started working in practice I struggled with work/life balance and believed that to be successful I had to concentrate only on my work, obviously this didn’t last long, because I soon became fatigued and burned out. So, as work/life balance is such an important topic to me and one that has been very present lately in our profession here is some practical advice that I have found useful.

5 work/life balance Tips

  1. Setting boundaries

It’s tough for us vets to set limits, there’s always something else to do or an emergency that crops up just as we are getting ready to go home. And it’s not the worst thing to work overtime from time to time, or to take care of some tasks that took longer than expected after work. The problem is if we do it all the time. Everyone knows their limits and we should recognise how much work we are capable of handling and not exceed that amount.

  1. Switch off from work

We often finish work late and the emotional burden of our career can be so heavy that we take it home with us. We can keep thinking about the case that didn’t go well and how we could have done things differently, but learning to let go of work although difficult is totally possible and healthy. We vets practice such little self-care that starting by consciously letting go of work can be the first step to a self-care plan.

  1. Learn to say “no” and delegate

We must learn to say “no” to maintain our boundaries, saying “yes” to show our bosses that we are super human is not healthy and even if you say “no” they will still see you as the excellent employee you are! Additionally, respecting your boundaries can also help those around you by reinforcing the importance of your mental and personal health.

Delegation can be difficult, but it’s important not only for your own well-being but also as people in your team will often be thankful to be given additional responsibility and the chance to progress.

  1. Practice Self-Care

This may sound very cliché but think about something you really like to do (apart from veterinary medicine!)? Practising “me time” is so important. Exercise, watch a movie, read, paint, go for a run, travel, spend time with your friends or family. These are things that will make you feel renewed.

Lately I’ve seen a lot of vets who mix the things they love with their work, like the Dr who runs and has this amazing blog and vet running group, or the Dr who loves to travel and her job is based on working while travelling and going to amazing places and meeting interesting people.

  1. Enjoy life

Even if a lot of good and bad things happen during the day, always take the time to look at the positive things. Enjoying something is very important for our health, whether it‘s enjoying our work or our life outside of work. How long has it been since you’ve taken a holiday or gone on that weekend getaway you’ve been looking forward to?

How long has it been since you’ve laughed with your colleagues about the things that happen every day? Enjoying every day makes the burdens of life more bearable.

In Conclusion

It’s time for you to start being a work/life balance conscious veterinarian. Work and life are not supposed to be opposites, work should not compete with our personal life.

By accepting that work will always be a part of our life, we have a clearer picture of the importance of balancing it and not thinking that it is something isolated that can make us lose our true self.

Do you have any more tips to live a more balanced life? Feel free to leave your tips in the comments!