What is burnout?
Psychology Today describes burnout as “..a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress.”
Burnout is a significant problem in the veterinary field and it has only increased during the pandemic. For veterinarians, techs, and clinic staff, burnout can lead to decreased mental health, poor job satisfaction, and an early exit from the profession. For practice owners and managers, burnout has economic costs to the business and can negatively impact the recruitment of future veterinarians (read more in this fascinating study: https://www.avma.org/javma-news/2021-12-15/burnouts-economic-toll-veterinarians-calculated).
In most cases, veterinarians and techs will need to take it upon themselves to create their own conditions while at work in order to avoid burnout. Below are some small steps that can be taken during your workday to achieve big results. Pick one to try this week. The following week, pick two! Eventually, you should have a small arsenal of things you enjoy doing on a daily basis that will ease your stress and improve your mood.
Take a walk outside. Even you only have time for a 5-10 minute walk outside, take it. Fresh air and sunshine lower cortisol levels, and spending time outside has been proven to reduce stress levels.
Bring your dog to work. Bringing your dog to work forces you to take that walk.
Set aside time for breaks. Write it on the schedule if you have to, or set an alarm. Small breaks have the potential to make you feel happier and lessen the effects of your physical and mental stress.
Order lunch from a place you know you will have to walk or drive to and pick it up. Paying for something in advance and committing to collect it is a great motivator, and it forces taking the break that is so difficult to find the time to take.
Eat lunch somewhere other than your desk. Even if there are only 5 minutes allotted to eat lunch, do it away from your desk. Spending a few minutes away from the phone, computer and charts will help replenish and revive.
Exercise. Go for a midday jog, or sign up for a class close to work. Exercise will alleviate stress and create a sense of well-being.
Burnout in the veterinary profession is far too common, which is why it’s vital to get your health and wellbeing foundations strong if you’re going to flourish in your career, without sacrificing your health.