Close this search box.

Self-Care 101

Blog Author: Jamie Rauscher, LVT

NAVTA President

When we talk about self-care, we wonder just what that means. There are many different definitions as well as recommendations to achieve this. When discussing this topic, I am always one to be upfront and honest about my personal struggles with this. I am the absolute worst person to educate anyone on achieving a good work/life balance and having a successful self-care routine. How can I talk about how to do this well when I am still figuring that out myself?

Our jobs in veterinary medicine are hard. So hard. No matter if we are a veterinarian, a receptionist, a credentialed veterinary technician, a veterinary assistant, or a kennel attendant, we all have our struggles that we deal with each and every day. The hard part of my day may also be the same for my veterinarian or the exact opposite. What I struggle with, my co-worker who is a receptionist may excel at.

Some days, they are sad and depressing and sometimes lead us to think we should never have pursued a career in this field. My day-to-day life is no different than anyone else’s in the field. I work at a high-volume GP/ER 24/7 practice.

This year at my practice, we have euthanized so many pets. On average, it’s 3-4 a day. Some days, it seems like 12 a day. We hospitalize so many sick patients. The care that goes into helping them is exhausting. Some days, we think differently, but the level of compassion fatigue in the field has never been higher than it is currently. The suicide rate of people in the veterinary field is higher than that of someone not in our field.

Serious illness, unforeseen financial hardships, and other challenges may arise unavoidably or may even be prebuilt into your genetic makeup, family situation, or other circumstances out of your immediate control. The key is to take ownership of the choices you can control and to be consistent and intentional in the decisions that impact your well-being.

If you’re not taking care of yourself, you’ll be less able to care for others. Your well-being affects your ability to care for your patients and loved ones. Well-being is a choice that requires prioritization and accountability. Good health doesn’t just happen; it happens through the decisions you make every day about how, where, and with whom you spend your time. Being aware of the dimensions that make up your well-being and recognizing that there are things you can do to improve them are the first steps in taking ownership of your health.

It is essential to regularly check in with the different aspects of your well-being, reflect on what habits continue to serve your greatest good, and adjust as needed along the way. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Limiting the time you spend at your job, increasing the amount of time you spend with your friends and family, or just learning to say “No” may be the first step in this process.

Making time to do what brings you joy is a huge part of this process. Remember, you are the most important person in all of this. Read a book. Take a bath. Walk your dog. Do spend time and make that nap happen. Find a hobby. Join a club. Be yourself. Just do you.