It comes as no surprise that the last 18 months have been extremely difficult. Across the world we have had to adapt to a new way of living as a result of the coronavirus pandemic which has touched nearly all aspects of our lives.
Within the workspace, new measures have been put in place that affect both vets and their clients. These rules, guided by national health bodies and the government, have been designed for the benefit of all in an attempt to curb infection rates and limit contact.
Understandably, tensions and stress have both been at an all-time high and can lead to difficult situations for all concerned. Indeed, the VCMS has experienced an increase in complaints during the pandemic and, with this, increasing reports of tensions towards veterinarians and veterinary nurses.
In today’s blog we look at how we can de-escalate tension and improve interactions between patients and practitioners through the practice of mindfulness.
Mindfulness can be described as a type of meditation in which one focuses on what one is sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment.
Practising mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.
Undoubtedly, this has benefits in both our personal and professional lives and when dealing with high tension situations – or even reducing the intensity of them. Mindfulness can be a useful tool when raising and dealing with complaints.
Recent reports coming to the VCMS from both vets and members of the public have drawn our attention to difficulties in interacting.
Whilst understandable that patience is at an all-time low and external pandemic led pressures exist, we urge all to think about how we interact in order to de-escalate tensions and move towards resolution.
Practicing mindfulness has a plethora of benefits, from decreasing stress to improving general mental wellbeing and, of course, enhancing one’s ability to better deal with the stresses and strains of daily life.
Below we have put together a few tips that can help you to practice the art of mindfulness:
Recognise Stress when It’s Happening
Naturally, when a service or product is not up to our expectations it can be stressful. Stress can be a barrier to communication and closing down when raising a complaint or, as a veterinary professional, thinking clearly in order to fully address the matter.
Recognising when you are feeling stressed can help to reduce the intensity of the feeling by focusing on the feeling itself and not what is causing the stress can help us to clearly communicate our concerns and address the issue at heart.
Observe and Recognise Thoughts
A new study has found the average person has more than 6,000 thoughts every day. Recognising what we are thinking and what we are thinking about can help us to remain in the present and not move into speculating about the future – creating anxiety – or recalling the past which can lead to stress. By being able to distance oneself from one’s thoughts we are able to realign and deal with issues and tensions in a healthier manner.
Breathing techniques can help to alleviate stress and keep one present. Deep breaths that fill the diaphragm have been proven to reduce stress and help deal with difficult situations. Focusing on breathing, much like observing thoughts, can help us to remain present.
As with any new skill or endeavour, regular practice can help to develop the skill and make it easier to use.
Mindfulness is no exception and with regular practice one will find the benefits immensely applicable and useful. We hope that our blog has inspired you to discover more about this fascinating way to make day-to-day life more manageable, for more information visit the NHS guidance on mindfulness.