Recently, I was talking to a veterinary friend of mine and mentioned how I am overdue for a haircut and a pedicure to which she replied, “sounds like you could really use some self-care!” I was so confused.
How could that be self-care? Wasn’t just the minimum to keep up? And my questions spiraled from there. Was self-care even well-defined? Was it more than just a buzzword? Why does it matter? And perhaps, most importantly, is it even possible in the veterinary industry?
To answer some of my questions, I started reading and asking others, “what does self-care mean to you?” And the results I got were so varied. For some, self-care was the basics - bathroom breaks, having time to cook, getting enough sleep, etc. But for others, it was defined differently- it was vacations, spa time and other more unique activities like playing tennis or lifting weights.
After thinking about it more, there are two themes that emerge about self-care. First, the activities that people define as self-care may vary a lot from individual to individual but the underlying theme was the same.
Essentially, self - care is about:
A secondary theme that emerged is that self-care is also about learning to say no. People in the veterinary profession and especially veterinary technicians are caregivers that naturally want to help others all the time. But there are times where that’s actually not in anybody’s best interest and it is better to take care of yourself first.
I learned that it’s much more than a buzzword. It’s extremely important, especially in a caregiving profession. Additionally, this DVM 360 article on Self-Care explains that your “own self-care is a critical component of your patients’ well-being. Why? Without self-care you’re at an increased risk of career burnout or compassion fatigue.” Additionally, your self-care can benefit the whole veterinary team, Paula Plummer LVT, VTS (ECC, SAIM) explains in this NAVTA Community Blog.
So, regardless of how you specifically define self-care, is it even possible when you work as a veterinary technician or is it a paradox? On the surface, it may seem paradoxical.
There are days at work where there are endless patients to care for and tasks to complete. But it’s important to remember that there are 168 hours in a week.
Carve out at least some of those hours for yourself - it’s definitely possible!
Flavia Vaduva is a general practice Veterinarian and a blogger for VetTechPrep. She has a passion for veterinary medicine, education and business management. She really enjoys interacting with veterinary students and veterinary professionals. She spends her free time riding horses and traveling to explore new places!