There is now a real buzz around the concept of using feelings of gratitude to increase your happiness levels, and the good news is that not only does it work as a happiness boost in the moment, but also it has repeatedly been found to lead to greater levels of happiness longer-term.
Sometimes in our job we have fantastic days; we send patients home healthy, we hit all of the veins first time, we get a proper lunch break, and everything seems to go smoothly, but here at VetYogi we have you covered for those awful days when you are unable to think positively or feel gratitude for yourself, we’ve all been there. All you have to do is consult our A to Z of Veterinary Gratitude, and hopefully there will be at least one thing you can relate to even on the most depressing of days. Maybe it will even inspire you to add to your list of your own accord, because it really doesn’t have to be big or important things; the little things matter a lot.
A is for…Air freshener
Lingering eau-de-anal glands isn’t what you need during a long stint of consults.
B is for…Biscuits
Or buns, or basically any morale boosting, free food that has everyone running to the staff room for a desperate sugar fix
C is for…Colleagues
We’re lucky to work in a profession where people give their time so freely to teach and help others, and it feels good when it’s our turn to pay it forward and teach. They help you out, they make you laugh, and they listen to you rant. Can you think of at least one who made your job easier today?
D is for…Drinks
Yes, I’m aware it’s been a strong start for things that one consumes, but that feeling when someone brings you a fresh cup of tea/coffee, and you actually get to drink it hot, is worth being thankful for.
E is for…Early finishes
So rare that it’s almost unheard of, it is incredible when it happens, though it’s probably safer to try and be grateful for the days when you actually finish on time.
F is for…Formularies
As no matter how long you’ve been out in practice, that reassurance you get from being able to double-check a dose or look up contraindications helps to put our minds at rest.
G is for…Gifts
Whether it’s from an appreciative client, or a thoughtful attempt at the work Secret Santa, a little present can go a long way to brighten anyone’s day.
H is for…Hot showers
Covered in blood or faeces? Sweaty from wrestling an uncooperative patient, or generally feeling the need to wash the day away? If you can think of nothing else that went right today, this is the one to focus on. Sometimes the simple things are the best.
I is for… the Internet
Just kidding, Dr. Google sucks. Still, you wouldn’t have discovered this cheerful little article without it!
J is for… Jokes
See above. In all seriousness, sometimes you have to laugh or else you’d cry. At least at work people share your dark sense of humour. Did anyone or anything make you laugh today?
K is for…Kennels
As much as we all love a good canine choral performance, quiet ones are the best. Large ones can also be useful for napping, and who doesn’t like naps?
L is for… Lunch and learns
Free food, and an hour of free CPD, this is usually a win-win.
M is for… Muzzles
For obvious reasons, and extra appreciation for the clients who bring their own or forewarn us of the need for protection.
N is for…Nurses (or Techs, depending on your location)
Can you even imagine the backlash if this wasn’t the option? Fortunately I can say hand-on-heart that I’m grateful for nurses on pretty much an hourly basis. They make everything better for vets, patients, and clients. If you wanted to put your gratitude into action, you could thank them personally, or write them a thank-you note. Vet nurses rock!
O is for… Operations
For the medics amongst us this maybe won’t ring true, but for the more surgically minded, the satisfaction from being out the back and just cracking on successfully through a list is definitely something to be valued.
P is for… Patients
The reason we do what we do, they make it all worth it. It’s so easy to focus on the negative when we get home, that we often forget to fully appreciate the main reason behind our passion. Think of one of your favourite patients right now, and feel that smile coming on.
Q is for… Quick reactions
From dodging various secretions, to keeping all of your fingers, sometimes you’ve just got to be happy you made it home in one piece, and possibly vaguely clean.
R is for… Receptionists
A good receptionist can schedule your day with minimal stress, keep your clients happy, and try to ensure you get your breaks. Sometimes their efforts may go unnoticed, but a thank-you always goes a long way if you can see they went out of their way to help you.
S is for… Specialists
Referring a difficult case to the people and places where you know they are going to stand the best chance of a good outcome is often such a relief. Having access to specialist advice at the end of the phone from referral clinics or laboratories is incredibly useful.
T is for… Turning your phone off
If you work phone has given you no peace, it’s a relief when the time rolls around in the morning that you can finally switch it off. It’s useful to develop a habit of having time away from your phones, get off social media for a while, and tune into the present moment.
U is for… Understanding clients
Stop thinking about that one client who was rude to you, right now! Instead, try and focus on all of the lovely clients who understand if you’re running late, the ones who willingly take your advice, and the ones who go out of their way to show you that you are also appreciated.
V is for… Venting
Being able to get stuff off your chest can be a great help for increasing happiness levels. Let the people in your life who support and listen to you know how much that means to you.
W is for… Weekends off
Have you got one coming up? Find time to try and give yourself what you need; get in touch with the friend you haven’t seen in ages, plan something to look forward to, or maybe you just need to rest and recuperate.
X is for… X-ray machines
Or any other piece of equipment in your practice that helps you to do a better job. Remember the switch from manual to digital processing of X-rays and how much better that made it? Or how much easier it is to do dentals well with modern machinery? We often take the amazing tools we get to use for granted.
Y is for… Yoga
Of course it had to be! Be grateful for anything in your life that gives you a break from vetting, and try and prioritise something, anything, for yourself.
Z is for… Zzzz
Predictably, it’s sleep. Occasionally getting into bed is the best part of your day, so as you lie there scraping the mental barrel for anything else to be happy about, just take it back to basics and be grateful for the warmth, for the comfort, for peace and quiet.
As a vet who tries her hardest to practice in an evidence-based manner, it is not enough for someone to tell me anecdotally that something works for them; I have to research it for myself. I’m sure this is the case for many of you reading this, so I found a nifty summary of some of the research here: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier, but for those of you who would like to delve a bit deeper, there are countless studies backing this up, including one which showed the positive effect gratitude can have on subjective well-being (Watkins et el. 2003)1.
Try it for yourselves, and go in gratitude.