30 May 2019 | Animal health
Vetlife: Wellbeing tips for students during Covid-19
14 Apr 2020 | Rosie Allister
Vetlife's Rosie Allister gives 10 tips for students to help with wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
1. Have reasonable goals
Although there is pressure to take up new studies and hobbies during lockdown, or to be very productive while at home, this path may work for some but it is not for everyone. For wellbeing in a time of crisis focus on establishing core things first: safety, security, looking after your health and those you care about, and remote contact with people you love. Simplicity matters first.
2. Avoid media overload
In a time of such uncertainty, scrolling news and social media for updates can be tempting but constant updates can increase feelings of anxiety. To manage these check in with news and information twice a day only, and from trusted sources. Be aware of how influencers and others are leaving you feeling too. Social media is great for connection – right now is a time for focussing on the parts that help you.
3. Have a wide perspective on experience
Jobs: Although veterinary placements and veterinary jobs are not in a normal situation now, and this is not the placement experience or first job situation we wanted for you, there will be veterinary jobs again in time and we are looking forward to supporting you to transition to them. Until then, if you’re finishing your veterinary studies and worrying about jobs, think broadly about experience. Starting veterinary work with a solid grounding in communication skills, farming, support in distress, customer service, retail, logistics, and more, can all assist transition to vet work. Be open minded about the temporary roles you can help with in supporting society’s response to Covid-19. Many roles including farm workers, NHS call handling roles, food distribution, and others, will all be valuable experience.
EMS: We know EMS is variably disrupted depending on different placements and we know how stressful this is. If you were relying on placements for accommodation, and are now stuck, please get in touch with your university – many have hardship funds to help with Covid-19 related accommodation problems. From a training perspective, like with jobs, think broadly about other experience you might want to take to practice with you. Whether that’s volunteering in your community response, temporary jobs within farming to support the food chain or the NHS, or food distribution and delivery, where the customer service skills you’ll gain will help in practice. If you need to stay home to care for loved ones, that is ok too. Try not to benchmark yourself on peers. Every situation is different.
4. Know your support team
The veterinary industry has faced epidemics before and we know that we come through strongest together. We all need a support team at times of difficulty. Think about who in your life you find most supportive and who you need on your support bench for your tough days, and work on maintaining those relationships and support virtually. Support from peers and family is two way so you’ll be helping them too.
5. Routine and structure
If you’re studying and doing many hours online study in isolation, it is important to have routine and break up your day with structure. Try to create a small study area if you can in the space you are living and then take breaks from work moving out of that space at regular times.
6. Find an escape
Within that structure allow yourself at least half an hour a day of something you enjoy – playing with a pet, non study related reading, music, art, whatever it is that helps you to lose track of time and get a mental break from all that is happening. You need to make a bit of time for that every day just now.
If you’re able to be outside for your exercise, do something you enjoy. Try not to get too caught up in training goals and avoid over-training right now, focus on the health benefits and enjoying it. If you’re in a vulnerable group and aren’t able to go outside, consider connecting with others to exercise online. There are great classes and videos online ranging from a small amount of equipment needed to none.
8. Look after your health
Rest, good nutrition, and self care are important through this, but so is knowing when you need help. If you’re worried about your mental or physical health, it’s important to seek help for it. Although health services are busy, it’s important to ask for help when you need it and not leave things very late. If your normal healthcare has been disrupted, explore if any alternatives such as online consultations are available.
9. Rites of passage
Vet study is marked by a series of transitions and events which can feel like rites of passage. We know how important these are, and losing or postponing those isn’t what we wanted for you. It’s ok to feel sad about the loss. If you can find socially distant ways to mark those occasions then do. The vet industry has faced disruption to these because of animal health epidemics before. Senior vets in the industry experienced this, understand what it’s like, and we are here for you.
10. We’ll be here for you
Veterinary work and a more recognisable type of veterinary training will resume. If you’ve been between graduation and practice during this outbreak, the industry will find ways to help you transition if you’ve had a break from vet work because of this. We're here for you now and in the future, and look forward to welcoming you to our profession when we get to meet.
The Vetlife Helpline is available to students for confidential emotional support and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 0303 040 2551 or email via the website.
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