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The Importance of Self-Care in the Veterinary Profession

Published Nov 5, 2021  |  Author: Dr. Laura Catena  |  Topic(s): ,

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What is self-care and why do we need it? Self-care is not only recognizing the relationship we have with ourselves but also prioritizing it. This means we have to put in intentional effort to sustain self-care. At times, that means calling ourselves out behaviors we are doing that are not healthy for us and harm our overall well-being. The WHO defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness or disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”

Veterinary medicine is a demanding profession. We are subject to challenging cases and, at times, uncooperative pet parents. If we don’t set healthy boundaries in place, we may be subjected to being overworked, and at risk of compassion fatigue. We have financial burdens. As a profession, veterinarians as a whole are givers – we give to our patients, our clients, and to each other.

It is vital for us to make our own wellness a priority and to freely and frequently give to ourselves. We need self-care in order to balance the stress of life, of our work, of our worries. It is something that we must maintain and hold ourselves accountable for in a profession that has a higher rate of burnout, compassion fatigue, and an epidemic of death by suicide.

What are examples of self-care? It is absolutely anything and everything that you do for yourself that feels loving. This can be eating a healthy meal, exercising, walking, drinking water, spending time in nature, reading a book, taking a nap, asking for help, seeking out therapy, or taking a bath. The options of self-care are limitless – it is truly any loving act toward yourself. It is not selfish, it is necessary for our well-being.

If you routinely do not incorporate self-care into your life, you can start slow. A few years ago, I had virtually no self-care. I was constantly doing for others but did not either feel it was necessary for me to incorporate self-care or possibly even felt unworthy of it. As a result, I was in a severe state of burnout and living in survival mode. It was a struggle for me to incorporate self-care tasks, even do 1 thing a day. But, over time and with dedication and consistency, it changed. Self-care has become a needed priority for me, in order to get out of survival mode and to live my life fully.

Start slowly with one loving act a day. Be present and mindful when you do this act of self-care. Over time, you can increase. You will become more comfortable with being kind, loving, and generous to yourself. You are deserving of the love, care and compassion that you so freely give to others.

With Gratitude,
Dr. Laura Catena

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Dr. Laura Catena is the Founder and President of The ArmOR Hand Gloves.

She graduated from The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine and is a small animal veterinarian. Dr. Catena developed The ArmOR Hand Animal Handling Gloves after a life-threatening injury she endured while working emergency medicine. She is a member of the Women's Business Enterprise National Council and an animal welfare advocate.

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