Balancing Act: Finding A Safe Haven in Your Home Life

When we say balancing act we aren’t talking about you holding a puppy in one arm, a medical chart in the other, and a capped syringe between your teeth. We’re talking about finding a work-live balance that allows you to thrive in every aspect of your life. For pet care professionals like veterinarians, vet nurses, and practice managers setting boundaries can be a huge challenge. People who are drawn to being veterinarians and pet care professionals have an innate need to help others. They aspire to make life better by providing a great quality of life for our pets. While their motivation is noble, it also sets them up for work-life balances issues.

Dedicating your life to the well-being of pets means working 9-5 is not very realistic. It’s not uncommon for veterinarians to put in long 12 hour days on a regular basis. There is always one more thing to do, whether that means completing a chart on a procedure they did first thing in the morning, or calling a client to check on a patient they saw days earlier. These little, but important, tasks eat away at the morale and overall mental health of veterinarians and pet care support staff. After work, many veterinaries will field calls, texts, and social media questions about their friends and family’s pet’s health. It’s not uncommon for a vet to get a call from a friend in the middle of the night seeking advice. Each time a question is asked our dedicated friends provide helpful guidance, regardless of the impact these requests have.

Many veterinarians will tell you they don’t mind and are happy to help. And it’s true, they probably don’t mind and are happy to help. But as we all know the more you chip away at one thing, the quicker it will fall. As a pet care professional you love what you do, and you should. The work you complete is important. It provides comfort to animals and humans alike. But that doesn’t mean you should stop caring for yourself. In the end, you are responsible for establishing a work-life balance that allows you to thrive.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Establish boundaries- It’s okay to work late, once in a while. And it’s okay to help friends and family with their pet related questions. What’s not okay, is doing those things all the time. Establish how late you want to stay at work, and keep that schedule. No more fourteen hour shifts. Much of the work you are doing can wait another day. If you are to inundated with clients, speak to your practice manager about adjusting schedules. Cutting back on patient visits by one or two will be better for the practice in the long run as the vets will be better rested and therefore more productive. Let your friend know that you are not free for advice on Fridays through Sunday night, barring a real emergency. It may be hard to establish boundaries, but in the long run you’ll be glad you did.
  • Practice self-care- Besides being a veterinary, what else do you love to do? Find time to read a little each day, paint, draw, hike, watch a movie. Connect with the things that fill your soul for a just a little each day and you’ll see in no time, that you feel more balanced and relaxed.
  • Have a good laugh- Bad days at the clinic are par for the course. You can cut back the stress and pain of those days with a good laugh. Find a comedy pod cast to play in the treatment room. Find a book of jokes and randomly recite one to the team.
  • Take your lunch- Everyday thousands of veterinarians down their sandwiches and salads in-between seeing patience, swapping out bandages, and before prepping for surgery. They scarf their food down without taking a breath to enjoy what they are doing. Stop that. You need to take a break; lunch is a perfect conduit for that. You don’t need to take a thirty minutes or an hour, a fifteen-minute walk around the block could be exactly what you need to get your head back in the game. Plus, the fresh air is a great mood lifter.

Now is the time to master a work-life balance. It won’t be easy. And you’ll have many setbacks. But in the end it’s critical that you set boundaries to keep you sane and working in the industry you are so passionate about now.

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