For those of us that have worked in a small animal clinic, I think we can agree that it is not always the healthiest environment.
On a weekly basis, we are often faced with sugary gifts from clients, endless amounts of time working in front of a computer, and minimal sunlight. We skip lunches, spend hours in surgery without drinking water, and are often sleep deprived. All of these scenarios can lead to poor health mentally and physically.
Unfortunately, some of the pitfalls of working in a small animal hospital will never change. We will always have clients who want to show their appreciation with delicious treats. Our stress levels will fluctuate like crazy. Days will be long and sleep may be short. These are aspects of our profession that we cannot control, but we can make the choice to consciously take care of ourselves! This means eating well, staying active, working diligently to reduce our stress, and getting as much sleep as possible.
Here are a few ways we can work to improve our overall health:
Get Moving More: Spend less time typing away at a desk and take a few minutes each hour to walk around. If you can invest in a desk that can be raised, even better! Standing is better for your back and circulation.
Meal Prep: Preparing your meals in advance not only saves time but also helps you resist the urge to order take-out or skip lunch altogether. Make sure you pack enough to last through long days and keep a hidden stash of healthy snacks. Similarly, bring a large water bottle to keep you hydrated throughout the day.
Say No to the Sweets: Clients love to spoil us with cookies, candy, and doughnuts. I recommend trying really hard to resist the urge. There’s nothing wrong with a little snack here or there but it becomes quite easy to binge, especially when we’re stressed.
Get Outside: Being stuck in a hospital under artificial lighting is not the best for our mental health. Take a break outside when possible to absorb some sunlight. Sunlight stimulates the release of serotonin which helps boost your mood.
De-stress: Take the time to find a hobby or exercise that will help alleviate stress. Meditation is a wonderful skill to master to reduce stress levels. Going for a walk, reading a book, or listening to music can all be done over the course of your lunch break and can drastically make you feel better even on the toughest of days.