Spa nights aren't for everyone, but that doesn't mean that keeping up your physical and emotional health isn't an important piece to surviving in veterinary medicine.
Self-care is a buzzword in pop culture and workplace wellness initiatives lately, but it often gets boiled down into “treat yourself” items-bubble baths, spa days or face masks. While these items are great and can contribute to an overall sense of calm, where does that leave people who aren't thrilled at the idea of soaking in bubbles? Here are 12 other ideas for ways to improve your mental well-being, adapted from this Psychology Today article by Tchiki Davis, PhD, a psychologist, author and founder of the Berkeley Well-Being Institute.
Sleep effects how you feel mentally and physically, and stress or other distractions can impact the quality of your sleep. Cleaning up your nightly sleep hygiene routine can help you wake up feeling refreshed. Do you eat or drink right before bed? Keep an eye on your caffeine and sugar intake as these can keep you up, the article states. Do you watch TV in bed or scroll through social media? These activities can also keep you from getting good REM sleep, Dr. Davis says.
Gut health can significantly impact your overall health, well-being and vitality. An unhappy gut can lead to an unhappy person, Dr. Davis says.
Daily exercise helps you physically and mentally, by reducing stress and anxiety, as well as boosting your mood in addition to the physical benefits like weight loss. The article notes that it's hard to get to the gym every day, so try to find alternate exercise like walking or yoga that you can do at home that may fit into your schedule more easily.
Dr. Davis says that foods can harm us, contributing to weight gain or diseases such as diabetes, or help us by keeping our minds alert. Foods that can contribute to better self-care are fatty fish, blueberries, nuts and green leafy vegetables.
Saying no is hard, because you can feel obligated to say yes when someone asks for your time or energy. But if you're already stressed or overworked, saying yes can lead to burnout, anxiety or irritability, Dr. Davis says. Once you learn to say no, you'll have more time for your self-care and feel more empowered.
Getting away can make a huge difference in helping you disconnect, relax and be refreshed, even if you're not feeling particularly stressed, the article states. It doesn't have to be a costly get-away either. Try driving to the next town over and hit the highlights or go camping. The point is to get away from your normal schedule and take the time to do something just for yourself, Dr. Davis says.
Being outside can help lower your blood pressure and reduce your stress. Studies have shown that spending time in the outdoors can even help reduce fatigue, which can help overcome symptoms of burnout or depression, according to the article. Burning off some energy through outdoor activities can also help you sleep better, Dr. Davis says.
Pets can be hugely beneficial to self-care. They give companionship and love, and dogs especially can help reduce stress, anxiety and high blood pressure, the article says. This is why service dogs have been used increasingly with people who suffer from anxiety disorders such as PTSD.
Keeping track of the little things, in a calendar or planner, can help you figure out exactly what you need to do to take better care of yourself, Dr. Davis explains. Write down your responsibilities and appointments and think about creating an area to prep for the next day. You can keep keys, purses, backpacks and coats together and ready to grab and go.
With all the responsibilities people have these days, stopping for a quick meal in a drive-thru or popping a premade meal into the microwave or oven saves time and effort, but these meals aren't necessarily the healthiest. Even if it's only once a week, Dr. Davis recommends making a healthy meal at home for yourself and your family.
Social media on smartphones has become a go-to source of entertainment these days, but it can cause stress and anxiety. Instead of endless scrolling, Dr. Davis suggests bringing a book with you to read in downtime away from your house. It's even better if it's a book on self-care, she says.
It's hard to find extra time in an already overscheduled life to practice self-care, but it's extremely important to plan regular time for yourself to help move forward and keep yourself grounded, the article says.