The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is keeping veterinary health and well-being top of mind for veterinarians across the profession with its new guide, 100 Healthy Tips to Support a Culture of Wellbeing.
The guide, available at the AVMA website, offers strategies and practical steps veterinary professionals can take at work and at home to support healthful living and create a positive work environment. It addresses each of the nine unique dimensions that contribute to well-being: creative, emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual. The guide also combines strategies for improvement both at the individual level and in the workplace.
Sample tips from the guide:
- Creative well-being
Workplace: Organize an employee poetry reading during lunch or after hours in a local coffeehouse.
Individual: Seek out inspiration. Visit museums, attend live concerts, attend a book reading, or take in a sunset.
- Emotional well-being
Workplace: Institute “feelings” rounds into your daily check-ins or weekly staff meetings. Encourage—but do not require—everyone to participate to the level they are comfortable.
Individual: Actively seek out laughter. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh.
- Environmental well-being
Workplace: Create a work environment that is as clean, open, and light as possible.
Individual: Learn about nature preserves in your area and go exploring. Walking in a natural outdoor setting has been shown to be effective at reducing depression, stress, and anxiety.
- Financial well-being
Workplace: Provide support for establishing and navigating retirement plans for your employees.
Individual: Consider hiring a financial planner to help you manage your finances.
- Intellectual well-being
Workplace: Foster a communal growth mindset in your workplace. This will include grace for learning and making mistakes, and modeling vulnerability in acknowledging your challenges and asking for help.
Individual: Explore a hobby that you’ve never tried before.
- Occupational well-being
Workplace: Schedule and uphold regular performance reviews, both to bestow positive feedback on your team and to clarify job performance expectations for the future.
Individual: Create a five- or 10-year vision for yourself professionally and personally. Is the work you are doing moving you toward that vision?
- Physical well-being
Workplace: Be supportive of team members who adjust their schedules to make it possible to exercise or schedule a medical appointment.
Individual: Prioritize sleep. Make it a necessity, not a luxury.
- Social well-being
Workplace: Highlight an employee a week or month to give everyone the opportunity to share about themselves and get to know one another better.
Individual: Limit the time you spend on social media. More than one hour a day is associated with a decrease in well-being.
- Spiritual well-being
Workplace: Bring in someone to lead guided meditations during lunch breaks or staff meetings.
Individual: Cultivate a daily personal gratitude practice, either by journaling or talking about it with friends and loved ones.
100 Healthy Tips to Support a Culture of Wellbeing was developed for the 2018 Veterinary Wellbeing Summit held earlier this year, which explored practical strategies for participants to take home and implement in their own lives to enhance both personal and professional well-being.
Other resources to support mental health and well-being include tools to help plan and implement your own self-care plan; lead efforts to improve workplace wellbeing for your team; learn how to identify and help colleagues who might be in crisis and considering suicide; and much more.
For more information, visit the well-being section of the AVMA website at avma.org/wellbeing.