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Mental Health Awareness Week: Learning to enjoy the here and now

Nicky Mansell - Young Vet Network representative on BVA Council - discusses the importance of self-care and wellbeing for young vets as part of our Mental Health Awareness Week blog series.

Many of us begin our journey into veterinary medicine at a very early age and spend our entire childhood striving towards this goal. We are focused, driven and passionate about becoming part of the veterinary profession.

When we are at school we spend our time either studying or gaining relevant work experience to apply to vet school. Then once we get into vet school we study even more and spend time on endless EMS placements and rotations to achieve our MRCVS qualification. Then comes the goal of finding the perfect job, with the right mix of work, appropriate location and good support network. Then once we find a job, we need to build up our clinical skill set and confidence. And then what happens once we achieve our end goal of being a competent vet?

Increasingly many graduates find that once they reach this stage they become disillusioned with the veterinary profession and that the expectation of being a vet doesn’t match up to the realities of life in practice. There are rising numbers of young vets who are diversifying, specialising or leaving the profession.

Perfectionists

Many of us are perfectionists and are always striving towards the next goal for example, finding the ideal job, doing an internship or gaining a certificate. Or we compare ourselves to our peers and feel pressure to compete with their achievements. And we often feel our happiness hinges on achieving these goals.

However happiness should not be goal orientated, the journey towards our goals, as well as accepting and enjoying the here and now is incredibly important.

Mindfulness and stress

Mindfulness can be an incredibly powerful tool for improving your wellbeing. The Vetlife website has lots of tips on mindfulness and fitting this into even the busiest of days.

A simple technique when you are feeling stressed which can help to reset your thoughts is ‘The Traffic Light’:

  • Stop: Stop what you are doing. Pause for a moment.
  • Take a breath: Breathe, it’s easy, we do it all of the time, we just don’t think about it. Really notice how the breath feels entering your body and how it feels as you exhale. Concentrate only on your breath.
  • Observe: Now you’ve had that pause and breathed a little, how do you feel? What’s going on for you? Just notice, observe it without judging.
  • Proceed: Time to continue on your journey.

In need of support?

If there's something troubling you, please get in touch with the 24/7 Vetlife Helpline on 0303 040 2551, or visit the Vetlife website for more information.

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