Data: Self-care for a bad day in veterinary practice

April 20, 2016

When today sucks, here's what your veterinary colleagues do to deal.

A good self-care habit is like rain on the parched ground of your mood. We made that up right now. We should be poets. (Getty Images)No one can tell you for sure what'll make your bad day better. But a good start is trying what works for others.

We asked veterinary professionals in the 2015 dvm360 State of the Profession Survey, "What do you do to stay calm, lower stress or cope with a bad day in veterinary practice?" Here's a list, in descending order of number of respondents, of the first thing they mentioned (some mentioned an entire menu of ideas for self-care; we went with their first choice). We tried to group together like ideas:

110 people exercise

Yoga, tennis, kayak, martial arts, run, pilates, golf, soccer, dance, bicycling, in-line skating, swimming, mow the yard with a push mower, etc.

72 people take a break or a breath or a walk

"I sit down, shut my office door, turn the lights out and relax for five to 10 minutes."

52 people get some perspective

The sun will come up tomorrow

Remember the great pet owners, not the problem ones

Focus on the work

Remember my love for animals

Be grateful

There are good days and bad days

Move on

Remember this is not my entire life

Accept change

Stay calm and carry on

Don't stress over things I can't control

Remember when I was young and didn't have any money

Think about how we're helping the pets and clients

Take one case at a time

Do the best I can

Realize this too shall pass

Keep a positive attitude and hire positive people

"The concept of bad days is outdated and scientifically and philosophically rejected."

"I realize it's not a bad 'day,' only a bad moment that I'm capable of turning around!"

36 people enjoy pets and animals

Take the dog to the park, find a puppy, ride my horse, pet a cat, hug a dog, look at pictures of my dogs, talk to my dog, etc.

35 people enjoy family

Hug my kids, visit the grandkids, etc.

"Go home and vent to my wife of 47 years, who tells me it could be worse and the sun will come up the next day, and it does."

30 people enjoy hobbies

Woodworking, gardening, shooting, fishing, video games, quilting, coach youth baseball, art, cooking, flying a toy helicopter, sudoku, hunting, camping, watching spots, playing the drums, etc.

19 people drink alcohol

17 people meditate

16 people go home and relax

16 people pray or seek guidance from their religion

15 people listen to music or sing to themselves

14 people talk to the team

Daily huddles, encourage staff to stay positive, rely on staff to take up the slack, joke with staff, etc.

14 people talk to friends or colleagues

14 people laugh

"We try to laugh together, at least a little, every day."

12 people grab a bite or a drink

Lunch, cookies, chocolate, tea, etc.

12 people read

10 people take time off, go for a trip or just work less

9 people take a nap

4 people reward their team

Surprise lunches, compliments, etc.

3 people work on something that meets their skills and expertise

3 people smell something good

Essential oils, lavender lotion, etc.

2 people look in the mirror to see if they're the problem

2 people watch TV

2 people take antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications

2 people tackle any problems step by step

1 person has sex

1 person cries for the sad things

1 person takes it out on their car

1 person uses tobacco

1 person takes a long bath

1 person gets acupuncture

1 person smokes some, umm, "herb"

1 person throws things and growls

1 person goes to therapy

12 people are still looking for a good way to cope with a bad day

"There's a way to do that?"

Email us at and tell us what you do.