Fresh Thinking – Mental Health Month
We all get buffeted by the stresses and strains of day to day life from time to time. Mental Health Month is a good time to reflect on how making tiny adjustments can help us stay on track. Welcome to every day wellbeing.
While work can be a source of stress it can also be a positive – it provides a source of income, a sense of identity and potentially a network of supportive relationships. The impact of workplace stress on the veterinary profession is well established and sometimes it’s not easy to appreciate the positives. While there’s no magic solution, it’s often the little things that can make a difference. Here are a few suggestions:
- Recognise the signs of stress for you – do you become more anxious, less patient with clients or argumentative with colleagues? Listen to the warning signs and take action.
- If work is causing your stress ask for help in making the changes you need to cope. Remember that when we are depressed we tend to focus on all or nothing solutions – such as leaving our jobs or fighting through the fear. In these circumstances it can be hard to come up with creative solutions. Don’t be afraid to look at other work arounds or ask others to suggest a few options. That could be doing more CPD, or doing only consults rather than surgery, or only working at times or places where clinical mentors are available.
- Try some stress management techniques such as mindfulness or cognitive behavioural therapy. There’s more information here.
- Eat breakfast! Continue through the day eating little and often and opting for slow release energy foods like, pasta, oats, seeds and nuts. Low blood sugar can cause irritability, tiredness and depression and can make things seem worse. Drink plenty of water, smoothies, or even tea and coffee (preferably decaffeinated) to keep yourself dehydrated. Eat healthy EFAs for brain function – good choices are oily fish, walnuts, almonds, olive oil, sunflower oil and seeds, avocados and yoghurt. And don’t neglect gut friendly food as stress can have an effect on gut motility.
- Plan your meals and bring a healthy lunch to work so that if you run out of time you can still enjoy something nourishing that will support you through a hectic afternoon.
- Reward yourself and recognise your own accomplishments – even the small victories are important.
- Develop an end of day routine to help you switch off from work.
- Think about introducing a digital detox before you go to sleep
- Contact with nature and the outdoors can be a great de-stressor and physical exercise can have a very positive effect on wellbeing. Perhaps it’s time for a walk – with or without a dog?
- Take your holiday entitlement – even a long weekend can help recharge your batteries.
– Don’t let your life revolve round your work. Make a plan for what you want to do in the future and include how you can stay well while achieving all that you want to. And if you are struggling to envision an exciting future, ask for help: Vetlife has a confidential service. One in four people will experience mental ill health at some point in their lives so many of your friends, family and colleagues are likely to understand how you are feeling – ask for (and accept) help when you need it.
Are you an employer who wants to improve workplace wellbeing? Find some great resources here: https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/mental-health-at-work/taking-care-of-your-staff/