Slooow dooown with 5 tips to beat stress


Life in veterinary practice is crazy enough. Why make it harder by always being in a rush?

In my last column, I talked about work-life balance as a state constantly in flux. And I argue that it's far more desirable to make small, ongoing adjustments than to wait until we reach a critical moment in our lives that makes regaining balance unlikely.

Here are five small changes you can initiate fairly easily to lower stress:

Pick one day when you won't rush anywhere. Live the cliche: Stop and smell the roses. Be the tortoise! Photo: Getty Images1. Slow down and stop rushing

All of us rush, I know-even when we don't have to! But most rushing is avoidable and a direct result of procrastination of little things. Pick just one day when you won't rush anywhere. Drive sanely between destinations. Allow extra time for everything you do. Enjoy just one day at a leisurely pace-even if it's your day off-to see how pleasant it feels to have time to stop and chat whenever you feel like it. Live the cliché: Stop and smell the roses.

2. Don't just be on time-arrive early

We're often late because we don't build in extra time for inevitable delays like traffic. By planning to arrive early, you not only allow for unforeseen circumstances, but your travel time becomes more pleasant because you're not spending the entire trip stressing about being late.

3. Preplan your morning

Get things ready the night before when possible. Do anything you can do ahead of time, so your morning won't be avoidably rushed.

4. Go to bed earlier

The 11 o'clock news is full of stories designed to catch your attention and make you feel anxious. This hardly fosters serenity and restful sleep. Do not watch TV, browse the Internet or read horror novels before bed. And try going to bed an hour earlier. Bed should be where you sleep. You'll sleep easier for it.

5. Get organized

Disorganization leads to wasted time. Wasted time leads to anxiety. I like to start with the phrase, “Seek and ye shall find.” Instead of wasting time feeling frustrated and looking everywhere, start organizing. Think about what things you constantly look for and can't find and spend at least one day a month organizing your life. You'll probably spend about the same amount of time cleaning up as you would have wasted searching for the lost item. And you'll almost always find the lost item in the process.

Are you inspired to change? It just takes some intention. Decide what you want to change or what new habit you want to start-then start small. Make one change at a time and practice it for weeks, if not months, before adding in new habits or lifestyle changes. And remember: Setbacks are a part of the process. (And share your stories of progress frustrated or achieved below in the comments or emailing

Mike Paul, DVM, is the former executive director of the Companion Animal Parasite Council and a former president of the American Animal Hospital Association. He is currently the principal of MAGPIE Veterinary Consulting. He is retired from practice and lives in Anguilla, British West Indies.

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