De-stressing – Take a Few Minutes to Process

Life in veterinary medicine, regardless of your area of practice, is busier than ever.  This we all know.  Each of us understands the definition of stress too. Stress in our lives is unavoidable. However, how we respond or react to stress is entirely within our control.  What is the definition of de-stress?  De-stress means to “relax after a period of work or tension”.  Each of us has our own ways to unwind – exercise, hobby, cooking, etc.  Consider these de-stressing tips from Dr. Elizabeth Strand, MSSW, PhD, that you can use after a stressful situation or event during the course of your day, on your drive home, or perhaps on your evening walk.  You can do the de-stress exercise as a group or by yourself.
This five-minute activity can help to keep you “on your game” every day.
1. Identify what is stressing you out.  Answering this statement helps you to pinpoint and define what has your mind racing or what is bothering you. It could be an interaction with a client, something going on home, etc. 
2. What did I did do well in that particular situation?  (NOT what I did wrong – we always want to focus on the negative but turning the question around into a positive helps with our attitude) Sometimes this might be really tough to answer, sometimes not. It could be as simple as “well, I didn’t yell at the customer”.
3. What do I wish I had done differently in that situation?  Answer this question to pinpoint where you can learn from the stressful situation.
4. What did I learn?  This allows us to reach for the positive emotions.  Sometimes just recognizing your gratefulness for your family, your veterinary team, etc. can help.
5. Focus on the humor. Identify what might have been funny in that situation, or even something funny from your week. Allow yourself and/or your team to end with a laugh.
If you are doing this exercise in a group setting, go through the 4 steps and end with – “I’m so glad you told me that”. The sharing part isn’t used to dissect the stressors or the situation but to verbalize it. Then, end with the laughter! You will feel better!
“A well-balanced person is one who finds both sides of an issue laughable.”  — Herbert Procknow
“A good laugh heals a lot of hurts.” — Madeleine L’Engle