Episode 42 – 7 Daily Habits to Support My Mental Well-Being as a Veterinary Professional

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Well-being and personal development habits are not just set it and forget it. Veterinary medicine, and life in general, take a toll on us all…we need to have strong foundations and routines of self-care in place in order to thrive. This episode is serving as my reminder to get back to some healthier habits, even when I get super busy with life.  Since I needed a reminder so badly this week, I thought someone out there might also be feeling overwhelmed or burned out and may benefit from hearing about some of my wellness strategies.

This talk was originally prepared for The Veterinary Financial Summit…you can still get access to recorded video presentations here by joining the Community! It’s an awesome resource and I am still catching up on all the lectures that I couldn’t get to while it was live.

Resources mentioned in the episode (or maybe not specifically mentioned but I think they’re important!)…
My interview with Dr. Ed Kanara about creating a simple strategic life plan –The 5 Minute Journal
Gratitude in Practice PDF
Self-Compassion by Dr. Kristin Neff
How to Leave Your Comfort Zone and Enter Your ‘Growth Zone’ by Oliver Page, MD
….
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Below is the full transcript, but please excuse any errors as it was auto-transcribed using Otter.ai

Stacey Cordivano 0:07 Hey there, it’s Dr. Stacey Cordivano. I want veterinarians to learn to be happier, healthier, wealthier and more grateful for the life that we’ve created. On this podcast, I will speak with outside of the box thinkers to hear new ideas on ways to improve our day to day life. Welcome to The Whole Veterinarian. Stacey Cordivano 0:35 Hi, everyone. This week is going to be a bit of a departure from our normal programming, because today I’m going to share with you a talk that I put together for the Veterinary Financial Summit a couple of months ago. I wanted to share it this week because, honestly, I need to hear it. I have been feeling a little less energized and a bit grumpier in the past week or so. And when I gave myself a moment to think about it, I realized that I’m probably feeling this way because I haven’t been prioritizing myself care habits. Things get busy and routines fall off track, I have to imagine happens to almost everyone. So I needed a reminder of the things that help me and my mental well being, and I thought someone out there may also be feeling overwhelmed or burned out and may also benefit from hearing about some of my strategies. I performed a very official, double-blinded study on Instagram, haha, and found out that while 70% of respondents do have some self care strategies in place, 100% of them are interested in adding another small act of self care into their lives. Most of the things I do for myself are pretty easy. So I hope that you will be able to find a way to work one of these into your own routine. Interestingly, I also asked Instagram followers if they were optimistic about the future of Veterinary Medicine, and 45% of people said, No. I will admit that not all that long ago, I was one of those people. I was pretty burned out a few years ago, and I couldn’t really see a way to make this profession better or more sustainable while I was in the midst of feeling so low. What I’ve come to believe, though, is that finding a healthier future for vet med starts with the individual veterinarian. When we focus on putting our health and well being first, we are then able to help make a positive impact throughout the industry. Those impacts could be small things like showing a new grad that you, their boss, is firm about setting boundaries around client behavior, or getting out on time. Or the impact could be things on a much bigger scale like founding a mentorship program, putting on well being conferences, or speaking in front of vet schools all over the country. We have a ton of people out there working on making veterinary medicine and more positive place. But I have no doubt that those people would not be able to put themselves out there if they weren’t also caring for themselves first. So… here’s a quick ad from one of our show sponsors and then I hope you enjoy hearing about the seven habits that I find helpful to maintaining my mental well being. Stacey Cordivano 3:11 Questions about finances? vincere wealth management is the solution. Isaiah Douglass is a partner of vincere wealth management and the host of the veterinarian success podcast. He is a fee only certified financial planner and he and the VINCERE team are dedicated to serving veterinarians in all stages of their careers. vincere can assist you whether you’re a new graduate getting started or an experienced that trying to navigate selling your clinic and moving into retirement, you have enough stress in your life, finances no longer need to be on that list, you can find a link to download their free resource called a financial guide for veterinarians on my website at http://www.thewholeveterinarian.com/resources Thanks again to Isaiah and vincere wealth management for their support and now enjoy the show. Stacey Cordivano 4:05 So I wanted to share this talk with you because taking the time to prioritize my well being by focusing on personal rather than professional development has allowed me to come back to a place of happiness within veterinary medicine and within my own life. So here are seven things that I find vital to maintaining my health and wellness. Number one, take time to reflect. This can range from something like taking a moment to yourself after a difficult euthanasia to taking time to plan out your next five year goals. My life started to change in 2018 when a mentor of mine suggested that I take some time to work on a strategic life plan. You can hear about that in a previous episode with Dr. Ed Kanara. So after a quick rumbling on what my ideal week would look like my brain began to process all the different ways in which I could make that ideal week come to life. I have found this practice of designing your ideal week to be imperative every time I have a change in life circumstances, so I highly recommend it. And I’ll have a download available for you to utilize. if you so choose. You can see that in the show notes. Additional things to explore when you give yourself some space are things like boundaries. Should I say yes or no to that extra shift at work? Should I give out my cell phone so clients can text me late at night? The answer to that one’s probably always no. You can also take time to think about things like personal goals like I want to travel to Greece before I turn 40 How am I going to make that happen? The other thing that giving yourself some space can do is to allow you to think outside of the box. So I really love mixed animal practice, but I can’t find a good one. So what if I worked two days a week at an equine practice and then did one small animal relief shift per week, I might end up making more money than a traditional position. Taking a moment to pause and reflect is really integral to all of the following habits. So that’s why I started with this one. Stacey Cordivano 6:01 Habit number two is practicing gratitude. There are more than 12 recent studies that all prove a link between gratitude and increased subjective well being and decreased depression scores. Gratitude practice can happen in under five minutes, you can literally just write a list of three things that you’re grateful for. Studies showed that even something like contemplating a few good things that happened to you over this past summer can provide an immediate mood boost. I’m going to pause for, I don’t know 30 seconds and allow you to think of a positive memory you had and it should boost your mood for the rest of this episode. Stacey Cordivano 6:55 Okay, I hope you enjoyed that break. My favorite resource for gratitude practice is called The Five Minute Journal. You can find it on Amazon. I’ll link it in the show notes. And it’s a really easy way to help you create a daily habit of gratitude practice. Stacey Cordivano 7:08 Habit number three is get outside your comfort zone. This can be done in the work setting, but I challenge you to learn something new that isn’t related to veterinary medicine. If you’re listening to this podcast, you probably have the desire and drive to learn new things. I know this can be important for you. Studies dating back to 1907 show a link between motivation and a certain level of anxiety. So people are pushed to increase performance when they’re under a certain amount of pressure. As we all know, too much pressure or uncertainty like in a busy clinic can definitely cause performance to tank. So there is a limit here. But a small amount of anxiety can be good for you. Exercising creativity, specifically, has been shown to be a good way to train yourself to have a growth mindset and to let go for the need of perfection. Something we can all probably do a little bit better with… getting rid of the need for perfection. So the first form of self care that I started when I felt like I didn’t have an extra two minutes in my day when my kids were really tiny was to practice hand lettering. So it’s a fancy bouncy handwriting. It was just a way for me to do something creative. It was a start, it literally just took a couple of minutes before I went to bed. And it was a great start for me. I moved on from that to other small projects, and then learning how to create an edit my own podcast. So definitely start small and you never know where it’ll take you. Stacey Cordivano 8:31 Habit number four is practicing self compassion. Self Compassion is comprised of several factors, but one of them is self kindness. This means treating yourself with warmth and care and comforting yourself in moments of distress. You know that saying talk to yourself as if you were talking to a friend? Well, it’s scientifically proven to be true. There is a massive body of research showing the link of self compassion to decrease depression, anxiety and stress levels. I’m going to challenge you to come up with a phrase that you can say to yourself when things aren’t going well. Mine is pretty simple. You did the best you could with the knowledge that you had. saying this to myself creates a reset for my brain when I say it out loud and it stops that negative spiraling cycle. There’s more to come on this podcast about self compassion. I’m going to do a whole mini series on it after the holidays at the start of next year. So keep an ear out for that. Stacey Cordivano 9:23 Habit number five is celebrate small joys. The more often you do this, the easier it will be to find them walking down the driveway. That sunset is so beautiful. It’s bringing me joy, right the second or my son giggling could literally make anyone feel joyful. You’ll start to notice more for sure if you start paying attention. You can also start to plan joyful events into your day. So if you love reading kitschy novels, then plan a block of 10 minutes so you have something to look forward to at the end of the day. For me, it’s knowing that there’s a perfectly made cup of cold brew waiting in the fridge when I wake up. It definitely It makes my morning more joyful when I can expect that. Stacey Cordivano 10:03 Habit number six is to surround yourself with people who build you up. There are so many amazing communities within the veterinary medicine world, I am sure that you can find one that fits your needs, whether it’s medical interests, mentoring groups, state vet boards, mastermind groups, getting into a community is so important for your success. There are also of course groups outside of veterinary medicine that could help you level up and feel supported. I personally am in a podcast group, a small case sharing group and a real estate mastermind group, I learn and I am inspired by every single interaction I have in these groups. If you’re struggling to find a place to fit in, please reach out to me and I will reach out to as many people as I know to find you a good spot. Stacey Cordivano 10:48 Habit number seven is to take control of your finances. Now, this talk was prepared for a financial Summit. But I promise you I did not add this just because I was talking to a group of veterinarians interested in finance. For me getting a handle on the cash flow plan, your ins and outs, it was life changing. So once you get a handle on that in and out flow, you won’t actually have to monitor a daily, but you will notice the difference every day when you are not stressed about your financial situation. There was a point in my marriage at which a lack of clear financial goals was a major problem. The thing is, we actually had the same goals we just hadn’t fully laid them out and we were going about them in different ways. Having a plan for what your money is doing and where it is going will make you feel empowered, I promise. I know it’s scary, but just dig in a little tiny bit. Again, I have a bunch of great resources if you’re scared of money that will help get you started in the right direction. Oh, and I look forward to sharing more about getting control of your finances in two weeks when I get to share my interview with Dr. Grace Kim of richer life DVM. Stacey Cordivano 11:58 So just a little recap on the habits that I find helpful for my well being. Number one, take time to reflect number two, practice gratitude. Number three, get outside your comfort zone. Number four, practice self compassion. Number five, find small joys. Number six, find a community who builds you up. Number seven, take control of your finances. Stacey Cordivano 12:23 This episode is by no means meant to come across as though I have everything figured out. This profession is hard. And every single one of us deals with a multitude of different personal and professional struggles. I hope that you might be inspired to try one or two, or all seven of the things that have helped me grow over the past three years. If you do want to try all seven, maybe don’t try them all at once. It’s definitely been a process to get to this point. If you have any questions, please reach out. I am happy to chat further about any of these topics that have been so helpful to me. I hope that you find them helpful as well. Stacey Cordivano 12:59 Here’s to creating a sustainable future in veterinary medicine for all of us, whatever that looks like for you as an individual. Stacey Cordivano 13:08 Thanks again for tuning in today. I so appreciate your time. If you want to make sure to never miss any episodes or other information that I share. Please go to the website, http://www.thewholeveterinarian.com/subscribe and sign up for the monthly newsletter. I promise you will never be spammed and just send a once a month newsletter recapping some interesting articles and videos that I’ve found and sharing the podcast episodes that came out this past month. Also, if you are enjoying this podcast, please share it with a friend or go to Apple podcasts and leave a review. I really appreciate it. And as always, I hope you find some small moments of joy in your week. And I’ll talk to you again soon.


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