Emotional & Social Wellness
Emotional well-being includes an awareness, respect and acceptance for “self” that is rooted in optimism. This allows an individual to meet the demands of everyday life by the utilization of skills to effectively cope during life's ups and downs and to recover effectively from illness, change or misfortune. Emotional well-being involves identifying, building upon and operating from your strengths rather than a focus on fixing problems or weaknesses – or otherwise masking them.
Emotional health is not the absence of emotions; it is to understand the value of your emotions by accepting how you are feeling, why you feel that way, and responding in a manner that connects with your body, senses and intuition to guide you towards alignment with purpose.
Emotional health is enhanced by social well-being. Social well-being entails seeking positive, interdependent relationships by using healthy communication skills. Social wellness is defined by your interconnectedness with others and understanding how your “self” - your actions - affect other people and your communities.
It is not uncommon to grapple with interconnectedness within our practices and our communities as we intrinsically feel we “must” be the bedrock for our clients, our patients, our families and our communities. Many veterinarians, whether solo or part of large group practices, put themselves or feel placed on their own island professionally, often spilling over into the personal sector of our lives.
Many veterinarians are told or feel they are “givers” or “doers” and chose this profession because it is their “passion” and “calling.” However, many have never stopped to develop a broader sense of acceptance as to the “self” behind these labels. For many, these labels cause conflict within our self when we cannot meet the demands of everyday life personally or professionally; when our “passion” doesn't align with purpose.
Emotional wellness allows us the power to realize, accept and express our feelings without constraint so that we will enjoy the expression of our emotions. These emotions will come from a place of strength and offer us resiliency so that we are capable of supportive and interdependent relationships with others, which leads to social wellness.
Tools for Emotional and Social Wellness
- Assess-Support-Know (ASK) Program. While the veterinary industry is struggling with positive mental wellbeing, Banfield has designed ASK specifically for veterinary professionals to help them recognize and address emotional distress and suicidal thoughts in themselves and others. Free.
- AVMA Assess Your Wellness Tool. This online assessment tool can help you measure how you are being affected in three areas that are critical to mental wellness – compassion satisfaction, compassion stress and compassion fatigue – and may help you identify areas where you want to focus your self care.
- University of Tennessee Veterinary Social Work Helpline. If you are an animal-related professional experiencing compassion fatigue, stress, grief, trauma, and/or conflict, please call the Veterinary Social Work Helpline at 865-755-8839 for a consultation. Four FREE consultation sessions are offered by appointment through this helpline. An affiliation with the University of Tennessee is not required in order to utilize this service. More information can be found at http://vetsocialwork.utk.edu/about-us/compassion-fatigue-management/
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress; prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones; and best practices for professionals.
- After a Suicide: A Guide for Veterinary Workplaces - Developed by the AVMA
- Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project. While the effects of compassion fatigue can cause pain and suffering, learning to recognize and manage its symptoms is the first step toward healing. The Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project© is dedicated to educating caregivers about authentic, sustainable self-care and aiding organizations in their goal of providing healthy, compassionate care to those whom they serve.
- AVMA Wellbeing Gatekeeper Training. This online, self-guided program helps veterinarians recognize the warning signs of someone in crisis and how to establish a dialogue and assistance.
- AVMA Veterinary Wellness LinkedIn Group
- A Somatic Therapy Approach to Well-Being: Part 1
- A Somatic Therapy Approach to Well-Being: Part 2
Articles from Equimanagement Magazine:
- Are You Managing Stress? Or Is Stress Managing You?
- Veterinary Work-Life Imbalance?
- The Art of Giving
- Compassion Fatigue
- Staying Energized
- Are Emergencies Stressing You Out? You're Not Alone!
- Work/Life Balance Tips
- Not One More Veterinarian website and Facebook support network for veterinarians
- Article: How Society Has Turned Its Back on Mothers (New York Times)
- Podcast: Compassion Fatigue - Managing Risk in Animal Care.
- Blog: 8 TED Talks About Work/Life Balance That'll Change the Way You Think
- Article: How to Recognize, Treat, and Live with Anxiety (The Skimm)