Coping with the stress of practice
Veterinary practice is stressful and always will be. Stress is a natural animal adaptation that allows us to face challenges and survive. The thinking human brain gives us the unique opportunity to convert a physiologic mechanism meant to protect us into a chronic condition that causes us bodily harm. How then do we create coping strategies to stop our propensity for chronic, maladaptive stress? While there is excellent data that proper diet, exercise and sleep habits help, bovine veterinarians may be limited in their ability to employ these tools. Practicing techniques like meditation, gratitude, self-compassion, and story-checking, all of which can be done in the truck between calls, can wake us up to our habits of thought and change the volume and channel on the chatter in our brains. Waking up to our thoughts is the first step to changing how we relate to stress as it arises in the moment and being more resilient in our ability to cope with it.