Despite being constantly surrounded by people and animals, many vet professionals do struggle with loneliness – and it can be difficult to talk about. This Mental Health Week is a good time to change that.
While the country is no longer in lockdown, the mental health impacts of loneliness and disconnection during COVID have lingered. Vet professionals may feel guilty and embarrassed about feeling lonely. Care and connection are fundamental human needs, but for professionals whose job is to care for others, they can be difficult to acknowledge in themselves.
If you recognise yourself or your colleagues in this description, here are five steps you can take to beat loneliness.
Make time for yourself
Show yourself the same patience and understanding you show your clients and patients. It’s been a difficult couple of years, and everyone is feeling the strain. Cut yourself a little more slack.
Be in the moment
Be present and pay attention to those around you. It can be hard when you’re stressed and overwhelmed, but even a little bit of mindfulness has real benefits for your own wellbeing as well as that of others.
Ask for help
Many vet professionals worry about being a burden if they ask for help, but it’s important to be able to seek support when you need it. Our relationships with ourselves can affect our relationships with others, so having compassion for yourself isn’t selfish. Allowing others to support you is a vital part of mental health and of giving your best at work.
Human connection is incredibly powerful. Active listening means paying full attention, keeping an open-minded attitude, and being ready to adjust in response to whatever we hear.
Just as being tired can make it hard to go to bed, being lonely can make it hard to reach out to others and make new connections. If you have connections and feel well supported, you can help by looking out for people who are isolated, making contact, and showing that you care.