5 steps to lower stress: How to rise up when your energy is sinking


Learn what Dr. Marty Becker does to recharge during busy days in veterinary practice.

By nature, I'm a high-energy, positive person. But like everyone else, I have times when I feel like a human piñata, beaten but not quite broken.

Extensive travel, too many days/hours of work in a row, too few hours of sleep, or several back-to-back practice gut punches (a missed diagnosis, a patient's death, an angry client, employee complaints) can leave me stuck in a lower physical gear. Energy is low and stress is high.

But as one of the leaders of the practice-owner, associate or manager-you're typically responsible not just for setting the example for a strong work ethic, dedication, attention to detail and excellent customer service. Team members and pet owners alike look to feed off and match your energy.

Palpable energy is important, so what can you do to refill the tank when the caution light is flashing in your body and others can sense it? 

5 things I do to recharge during busy workdays

1. Pray hard. When I'm feeling down, I get down on my knees and pray- prayers of thanks for my many blessings, prayers to be able to handle difficulties, prayers for compassion and prayers for energy and strength. 

2. Take 5 or 15. I'll go into my office, take my shoes off, light a scented candle, enjoy a cup of coffee, tea or other beverage and just veg out.

3. Laugh. I love to tease, pull practical jokes and laugh. I can get a quick fix by visiting a humor website, calling one of my friends who are always good for laughs (Dr. Chuck Wayner and Fritz Wood) or reading Mad Magazine. I can't be down reading Mad Magazine.

4. Give of my time and money. Doing something for somebody else or going the extra mile always gives me a major lift. I might donate to a favorite charity, call somebody who needs their spirits picked up or just do some other random act of kindness.

5. Phone home. I love my wife of 36 years, Teresa, and nothing makes me happier than talking to her. For the first decade of practice, I made it a point to not mix veterinary work with my home life.

Well, during the last 25 years I've called home whenever I had something to celebrate or when I needed to be re-energized. My wife will pray with me, get me laughing, remind me we have time off coming up or bathe me with compliments about how hard I work.

The next time you're dragging, skip the triple-shot espresso. Engage the proven things that make your happy. 

Veterinary Economics Practice Leadership Editor and CVC speaker Dr. Marty Becker is author of The Healing Power of Pets: Harnessing the Amazing Ability of Pets to Make and Keep People Happy and Healthy. Dr. Becker practices at North Idaho Animal Hospital in Sandpoint, Idaho.

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