National Stress Awareness Day takes place on the first Wednesday of November and its purpose is to help us all recognize, manage, and reduce overwhelming stress in both our personal and professional lives. We understand the pressure that our practice teams feel both during the work day and after they leave their practice.
In preparation for National Stress Awareness Day, Dr. Saajan Bhakta, Director of Wellness and Transitions is sharing some tips on managing stress that is relevant to veterinary professionals.
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Acknowledge your emotions
If you are feeling stressed or sad, that’s okay! Take time to express your feelings in journal form or talk to a loved one. Journaling can be different for everyone. It does not have to be restrained to writing paragraphs every day. You can journal in whatever way works for you. Some different types of journaling include:
- Traditional diary – writing down your thoughts, feelings, and day’s activities in paragraph style.
- Bullet journaling – consists of bullet points and lists, categories, and subcategories. Try getting creative with your bullets by using symbols or codes.
- Journal App – apps are available that make journaling easy to access.
- Art journal – incorporates art, drawings, words, poems, pictures, or anything you want to help get your thoughts and feelings down on the page.
Manage your expectations
Focus on what you can control and give yourself leeway and flexibility.
If you are feeling lonely, seek out community. Community centers and neighborhood events can offer support and companionship when needed. Volunteering can also help lift your spirits while giving back to others.
Take time for yourself
Do not forget to give yourself a break. Go for a walk, read a book, or do something that is just for you.
Meditation can be a positive way to manage stress in your day-to-day life. Meditation is the practice of learning to observe your own thoughts and feelings. Meditation takes time and practice to learn in order to be effective. Follow these steps to begin your meditation journey.
How to meditate:
Step 1: Find a comfortable position and close your eyes. Sitting or lying down are good positions to try out. Try a comfy cushion to rest on while you discover more about your thoughts and feelings.
Step 2: Focus on your breath. This one is important and often misunderstood. It’s important to pay attention to your breath, but do not force it. Breathe naturally and notice how your body reacts to breathing—how far your ribs expand and how your stomach and chest physically move when you breathe in and breathe out.
Step 3: Practice. Over time, the increased awareness of your breath will expand to increased awareness of your thoughts and feelings and where they are coming from. You might discover a deeper understanding of who you are and then find the ability to recognize behaviors and make choices regarding those behaviors or thoughts.
Most of us need a little support with our mental health from time to time. Thankfully, there are hundreds of mental health apps developed by professionals to help you address your specific concerns—everything from anxiety and PTSD to depression and ADHD—from the privacy of your own device.
Many of these apps can be used to improve your mental health on your own or to enhance regular therapist or psychiatrist visits; some can even help connect you to a therapist virtually.
- Calm and Headspace: paid memberships that help develop mindfulness, which can ease anxiety and help you learn to meditate and sleep better.
- Happify: free and paid versions for those looking for a more engaging app or need a quick pick-me-up. The app uses a series of short, science-based activities and games each day to help you develop positive thought patterns and overall happiness.
- Bearable: free and paid versions that are a straightforward, user-friendly way to help track your mood, medications, symptoms, and many other day-to-day variables. From this data, Bearable will create charts that can be used to identify patterns or act as an aid in therapy.
This is just a small sample of the available apps. This expert-created resource can help you sort through more of them. Help is at your fingertips!
We hope you find Dr. Bhakta’s tips and resources useful and can incorporate something new into your daily routine to help manage your stress.
If you would like additional information, you can confidentially contact Dr. Bhakta at the information below.