Self-care is important for veterinary teams at the best of times to combat burnout. Recognizing the extra stressors faced by all health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, the World Health Organization reminded all health care workers on March 12, 2020, that “managing your mental health and psychosocial wellbeing during this time is as important as managing your physical health.” The AVMA similarly acknowledged the extra stressors and mental-health risks posed to veterinary teams by COVID-19 in a March 20, 2020, post that said, “…it’s not uncommon for individuals to experience a heightened sense of anxiety, even those who may not have experienced anxiety previously.” The AVMA further urged veterinary teams to “protect and maintain your wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Here are three self-care tips to help combat burnout during COVID-19:
1. Take a Walk for Perspective
Taking a break for a relaxing walk (while practicing physical distancing) is always helpful to clear your mind and release stress through light physical activity, but a walk also provides balancing perspective.
Where the constant bombardment of COVID-19 news stories and changing situations can lead to the beleaguering belief that nothing is normal anymore, there’s plenty that remains normal. The bird flitting through the park to gather twigs for a nest, for example, does so as it always has. So too do the new spring shoots rise from the ground as they always have. There’s plenty that remains normal, and recent studies between the Canadian Mental Health Association and Ryerson University show that brief walks outdoors help improve mental health by connection and perspective on something larger than ourselves.
So, look for steadying indicators of normalcy when you take a walk to refresh and replenish your thoughts and feelings. If physical distancing policies in your area preclude walks in nature, you can connect with the outdoors in your back yard. If you live in a condo or apartment and don’t have a back yard, take in the outdoors by an open window.
2. Listen to a Plaguelist
Even if you’ve never read a scientific study showing how music helps reduce stress, you’ve certainly experienced the calming and healing power of music. So, cue up your favorite music to help reduce stress during these trying times, or try a plaguelist.
Born in response to COVID-19, plaguelists (a humorous take on the word “playlist”) are collections of music put together by people around the world on platforms like Spotify and YouTube to help others relax and get their minds off COVID-19 while in self-isolation. Many plaguelists were created by musicians or music fans to help support and provide exposure for local and/or relatively unknown artists who lost concerts and tours because of COVID-19. So, plaguelists offer you the opportunity to discover new music and show your support for an industry that has been severely impacted by the pandemic.
3. Focus on What You Do Have
With supply shortages, familiar practice protocols replaced by new ones, and more caused by COVID-19, it can be easy to focus on what you don’t have. And resulting emotions ranging from sadness and loss to fear and anger can impact mental health. In response to this, the AVMA encourages veterinary professionals to focus on what they do have, adding, “What matters is how we choose to respond.”
As part of its article “Stress management for veterinarians,” the AVMA cites adaptation as one of four copying strategies recommended by the Mayo Clinic. At LifeLearn Animal Health, we’re committed to helping practices remain strong. To help practices respond and adapt to the new operational needs and requirements of COVID-19 (and alleviate some of the accompanying mental and financial stresses), LifeLearn is now offering its Practice Solutions Suite* free for the first two months until June 30th, 2020:
- After-Hours Telehealth Triage Service
Veterinary medical organizations recommend that practices use telehealth to serve clients and patients while observing physical distancing. PetNurse provides clients with access to a Registered Veterinary Technician outside of regular practice hours. Though PetNurse strictly provides after-hours triage support, it is an effective way to give your clients 24/7 peace of mind for their pet health concerns.
- Custom Veterinary Website
Now more than ever, pet owners have questions and are looking for reliable answers. To ensure your practice is always top of mind, your website needs to be the hub of all critical information. With a suite of industry approved pet health content and online resources, WebDVM improves practice efficiency and positions your practice as the go-to source of trusted information, which strengthens client engagement and will drive them back to your practice. In addition to the first two months free, we’re also waiving all design fees for this practice support offer to ease the financial strain during this time.
- Client Education Resource
Sharing trusted and reliable pet health information to pet owners during times of social distancing can be a challenge for some practices. ClientEd gives you and your clients access to one of the industry’s largest pet health libraries. Searchable by category and available in hard copy and digital form, ClientEd’s library has more than 2,100 illustrated pet health handouts written and reviewed by animal health experts, designed specifically for effective client education.
- Your Virtual DVM Assistant
As more and more veterinarians are having to work remotely (i.e. text, call and video chat with their clients), now is the perfect time to discover Sofie, your virtual DVM assistant. Accessible from anywhere that has an internet connection and from any device, Sofie provides veterinarians with instant access to the most current, trusted, and credible veterinary medical information. With over 40,000 pages from the best veterinary textbooks, journals, and conference proceedings in one powerful online library, Sofie searches multiple sources at once to deliver the most relevant and accurate results.
- Online Veterinary Continuing Education for You and Your Team
With many CE learning programs canceled and deadlines looming for veterinarians to remain licensed, VetFolio (a joint venture of LifeLearn Animal Health and the NAVC) provides veterinary professionals and students with online access to over 500 hours of continuing education, scholarly articles, webinars, and podcasts for CE credit.
* ALLYDVM and VetScribe as a stand-alone product are not included in this offer.
Book an appointment with LifeLearn today and let us support you. We’re here to help.