Working in the veterinary industry is incredibly rewarding, but can also be mentally, emotionally, and physically challenging. If you’ve made the leap to veterinary practice owner, congratulations! As a new owner, you can easily become overwhelmed with all the tasks you’re taking on during this exciting journey. To avoid burning out or feeling stretched too thin as you settle into your new role, take time to practice self-care. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup, and your team needs a strong leader to help your practice succeed. Refill your cup by practicing these seven techniques of self-care as a new practice owner.
#1: Set boundaries to conserve your personal resources
The veterinary industry is an emotional one, and taking on the burden of irate clients, heartbreaking euthanasia, and high tensions is difficult. And, as a practice owner, many of the most challenging situations fall on your shoulders. For example, when a furious client rolls up in their brand new, top-of-the-line vehicle, demanding you save their pet for free and cursing your team for being money-hungry, stand firm. While you can certainly hear them out and express empathy, you are not under any obligation to take verbal abuse or emotional manipulation. When you have a client boundary in place, you can more easily recognize this as an attempt to shift responsibility, and then move on. Setting and asserting boundaries can improve your well-being and build resiliency, particularly in tough situations.
#2: Focus on the good
People naturally remember bad experiences more vividly than good ones, but actively choosing to focus on the good and finding ways to remedy the bad, can eliminate a lot of negative feelings. Burnout and compassion fatigue run rampant among veterinary professionals, but choosing to highlight cases with positive outcomes, compliant clients, and personal achievements can shift your focus to a happier outlook. At the end of each day, look for your practice and team successes. Whether you saved a dog who was hit by a car, or a client dropped off treats to say thank you, make a point of remembering the good that happened throughout the day.
#3: Make time to exercise
As a veterinary practice owner, you likely do not have time to think, much less exercise. However, regular physical activity is an important self-care component, especially if you spend a large portion of your day sitting at a desk. Exercise not only reduces stress, but also releases feel-good endorphins, and provides numerous cardiovascular health benefits. Whether you sneak in a quick workout before heading to your practice or start a Pilates group over lunch, take the time to get moving.
#4: Pack healthy lunches
Going hand-in-hand with regular exercise is eating healthy. They are two sides to the same coin—making the time to plan nutritious meals is essential for your health and wellbeing. Although grabbing processed, packaged snacks from a gas station and calling that “lunch” may be easier, plan ahead and pack your meal the night before. This will help prevent those impulse, last-minute junk food purchases, and help you avoid an afternoon slump.
#5: Speak to a professional
Sometimes, you may need help from a mental health specialist. A new veterinary practice owner’s burdens can add up, despite a strong support system. If you feel overwhelmed and think your mental health is suffering, seek perspective from someone outside the field who is trained in mental health wellness.
#6: Indulge in hobbies outside work
Although you want to pour your entire being into your practice to ensure its success, take time for yourself, and distinctly separate work and play. Outside your practice, focus on things that bring you joy, and restore and fulfill you, such as reading, hiking, gardening, cooking, new restaurants, or spa days. As long as the activity rejuvenates you and does not revolve around running a business—enjoy! You’ll need downtime to supply the reserves that running a successful practice requires. Prioritize your interests and practice mindful self-care every day, so you are never worn out.
#7: Upgrade your practice’s equipment to make your team’s jobs easier
A major frustration for any veterinary practice owner is the facility’s equipment, tools, and software. These items may be expensive, but they are essential for keeping your business running smoothly and efficiently. Plus, upgraded, up-to-date equipment can boost your revenue, while also making your team happier, and improving job satisfaction. So, upgrade that outdated dental machine that refuses to scale more than one set of teeth per day and eliminate the stress and frustration. Or, if your practice management software is still the same software that the first practice owner used when they built the practice years ago, upgrade to a more efficient, easier-to-use version.
We get it—running a veterinary practice is incredibly hard work. So, our Shepherd Veterinary Software team wants to make practice ownership easier for you. With our intuitive, streamlined software that’s simple for any employee to grasp, regardless of veterinary experience, your entire team will enjoy cloud-based software that makes completing their tasks a cinch. Let us take care of your practice management software, so you can take care of yourself, your team, and your practice—schedule a demo today.