Updated: Mar 8
It's no secret that being a Veterinarian is an emotionally demanding job. While you love animals and helping them get well, sometimes things don't work out to the preferred outcome. This can cause feelings of sadness, guilt or frustration—and it can be hard not to take these feelings home at the end of the day.
Here’s how nutrition and lifestyle choices can help play a key part in reducing stress, as well as provide some tips for coping with emotions after working with animals all day long:
Veterinarians deal with Unique Stressors
As a Veterinarian, you are a person who loves animals. The love for animals is what drives many people into the field of Veterinary Medicine. But what it means to be a Veterinarian goes beyond just loving animals--it also encompasses being compassionate and making hard decisions when they are necessary. For example, as a Veterinarian, there will be times when you have to say no or set boundaries with clients because their requests are not in their pet's best interest.
Being able to make difficult decisions and set boundaries can be hard for some people, but these skills are important in helping your patients stay healthy whilst also staying true to your values. It is imperative to be integral as both an individual and a professional who cares deeply about each animal under your care.
Mental Health issues are common in the
As a result to the nature of the job, many Veterinarians suffer from stress, anxiety and low moods. These feelings are unavoidable at times, but it is important to recognize when they are affecting you and try to work through them to the best of your ability. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or depressed, it's time for some self-care.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, Veterinarians have a higher rate of depression than the general population. In fact, many studies have shown that Veterinarians who work with animals on a daily basis are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than those who don't.
In addition to having mental health issues at higher rates than non-Veterinarians, many also face the additional pressures of being short staffed and working long hours which can lead to burnout.
According to one survey, over half of practicing Veterinarians worked more than 50 hours per week during business hours; about half said they worked an average of 54-60 hours per week outside of normal business hours (i.e., evenings). The same study found that nearly one third reported coming in early or staying late without getting paid for it.
This is another reason why nutrition and lifestyle changes can help reduce stress levels by helping you maintain better sleep patterns throughout your busy days. A healthy diet and lifestyle can help reduce the negative effects of stress on your body and mind.
One often overlooked aspect of stress management is nutrition and lifestyle. In this post, we'll explore how making changes to your diet and daily habits can help relieve stress.
Nutrition for coping with stress
First, let's talk about nutrition. Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains can provide the body with the essential nutrients it needs to cope with stress. These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help support the immune system and reduce inflammation.
Certain foods, like fish, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens, are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and may help with stress relief. In contrast, a diet high in processed foods and added sugars can lead to inflammation and worsen stress.
Physical Activity as stress management
Physical activity is also a crucial aspect of stress management. Regular exercise and physical activity can help reduce stress by releasing endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters. Exercise can also help improve sleep, which is essential for managing stress. Even a simple walk around the neighbourhood or a yoga class can have a positive impact on stress levels.
Lifestyle changes for stress relief
In addition to nutrition and exercise, lifestyle changes can also play a role in stress relief. These include getting the proper amount of sleep for your body, practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation, and limiting alcohol and caffeine.
Meditation, yoga and breathwork are great ways to take a break from the constant stimulation of our daily lives and focus on the present moment. Even just a few minutes of deep breathing or mindfulness meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety. This can be done in the privacy of your own home, in a class or even on the job. Once you cultivate an awareness to your stress and triggers, you can take even just one minute while completing a task at work to practice deep breathing which will help lower the feelings of overwhelm.
Limiting alcohol and caffeine intake is also important for stress relief. Both of these substances can disrupt sleep and can lead to feelings of anxiety and agitation.
Healthy habits make a difference
Incorporating healthy nutrition, regular exercise, and lifestyle changes can play an important role in managing and reducing stress. By providing the body with the necessary nutrients, promoting relaxation, and limiting substances that can disrupt sleep, we can better cope with stress and maintain overall well-being.
Remember, small changes can make a big difference, start by incorporating one change at a time into your daily routine and see how it makes you feel.
At Vet Vive Wellness, we help Veterinarians thrive with optimal nutrition and habits for their challenging careers. As certified nutrition coaches and personal trainers, we take the guesswork out of planning meals, workouts and habits so Veterinarians can focus on what they do best.
Ready to feel your best?