According to a recent survey by the British Veterinary Association (BVA), three-quarters of vets are concerned about the profession’s levels of stress and burnout as a direct result of COVID-19.
Concerns about practical vet student training, and student and new veterinary graduate confidence also feature high up on the list of pandemic-sparked worries. Specifically, on the impact of health and welfare in the medium term, vets had most concern for zoo animals and wildlife.
The survey, consisting of 565 respondents and taken six months after the first national lockdown, gauged the profession’s feelings about veterinary life and how the pandemic may have affected it.
The participants ranked their levels of concern across areas that included health and wellbeing, finance and employment, students and new graduates, and animal health and welfare.
Although veterinary workplaces have adapted to working safely, 42% of the profession is very or quite concerned about contracting COVID-19 at work, rising to 55% among anyone working in mixed practice and 50% in small animal/exotic practice.
In other parts of the survey, respondents showed they were more concerned about stress and burnout in their colleagues (67%) than how the pandemic was impacting on themselves (45%), but the proportion was higher at 58% among small animal/exotic vets. Managers and employees ranked stress and burnout higher than business owners and self-employed members of the profession.
Burnout can be described as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when one feels overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.
As the fear of burnout becomes all too real, we have compiled a short list that can help professionals avoid burnout and to maintain a healthier emotional balance in their professional and personal lives.
Exercise has been proven in countless studies to be an excellent way to combat stress and to release positive endorphins. Just thirty minutes of exercise per day can have an enormous impact on one’s emotional state. Leaving the practice at lunch for a short walk and getting out in nature for even only 20-minutes has been clinically proven to decrease stress hormones and increase those associated with wellbeing.
Eating correctly provides the body with the correct nutrients and vitamins to function and create the energy needed for long days,
Rest and taking time for oneself can take many forms. Be it reading a book, enjoying a series or watching a film giving you an all-important off switch from work.
Holidays, however short, can help you to gain perspective and distance on work related issues and provide a welcome break that can leave you refreshed and ready for new challenges.
Yoga, meditation and Pilates are all excellent ways to promote relaxation and decrease stress. Grounding and breathing techniques can help to reduce anxiety and stress, helping you to refocus with greater clarity and calmness. Try the 5,4,3,2,1 technique below. The technique gets you to use all your five senses to help you to get back to the present. It starts with you sitting comfortably, closing your eyes and taking a couple of deep breaths. In through your nose (count to 3), out through your mouth (to the count of 3):
Speaking to a mental health professional can help you to gain a new perspective, clear your mind of worries and to build emotional resilience. The below resources may help should you wish to speak to someone: