You give your life to your patients. You work around the clock for your practice. But what about you? When do you actually pause to practice self-care? Omitting to take a moment for yourself can not only impact your personal well-being, it can also affect the way you do your job.

Dr. Heidi Hulon, DVM, CCFP, Regional Consulting Veterinarian at Elanco, provides valuable insight on why self-care is so important for you and your practice, and tips on how to incorporate it into your day-to-day routine.

Why is self-care so important for veterinarians?

I am relaxing after completing an 8 hour CE course on clinical pathology. By choice. It was a good refresher on the importance of utilizing certain basic techniques to make diagnoses easier and to help enhance profits.  

Diagnostics are our bread and butter. The cost to do these diagnostics is minimal, yet they can provide maximum worth to the patient and to the practice. This got me thinking about how this is also true for the most important resource in the hospital – YOU.  

Dr. Heidi Hulon, DVM, CCFP

Self-care often takes time we don’t have. We wonder if it’s worth it. What difference could it really make? You need to ask yourself, what is the cost of not practicing self-care, versus the worth (or profit) of self-care to you and to your job?

Technical training is our bread, our staple for practicing veterinary medicine. Throughout our careers, we constantly feed ourselves this bread of knowledge to be proficient in the care we give to our patients. Constant learning is essential to the HOWs and WHATs of our field.

But what else is there? What is vital to the WHO and WHY? What else do we need to sustain and nourish ourselves? SELF-CARE! It is an ethical imperative to foster and promote our own overall well-being – emotional, mental, physical and social.  

What happens when you don’t practice self-care?

Sadly, there are many reasons why we fail to take time for ourselves. It’s too indulgent! We don’t want to be generous with it or overdo it. We might be judged by others for doing so. There is no support for us to pause and take a moment for ourselves. What happens then? We miss out on the flavour and fulfillment our profession has to offer. We are like a whole slice of bread but with only the thinnest spread of butter on it. The rich complement to the bread is missing: our well-being and satisfaction.

How can I take better care of myself?

There are multiple ways to practice self-care daily. Let’s spread this on thick!

  • Emotional self-care: Be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion. Set healthy boundaries around your empathy.
  • Mental self-care: Believe in yourself! No self-criticism.  
  • Physical self-care: Breathe! Put your oxygen mask on first. Listen to your body.
  • Social self-care: Savour connections with supportive people (and of course, animals!)  

Remember: “Butter yourself up for a better you!” You are the most important resource that you have. Treat yourself as such.

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