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Mindfulness and Meditation: Getting Through Burnout

I woke up this morning feeling anxious. It’s Sunday, one of my days off, and I’m anxious. I started scrolling through Instagram looking for a distraction. I have been following @mentalhealthdvm and on her Insta Highlights she had app recommendations. So I downloaded one.

As I mentioned previously, our school had a mindful practice class, as well as sessions run by one of our professors. We look up to our gurus of veterinary medicine, how well-spoken and seemingly stoic they are, and sometimes forget about the mental health aspects of our profession.

The first week of vet school I was assigned an academic advisor. This academic advisor is with you for your four years of vet school. The program is meant to build a mentee-mentor relationship to help guide your journey through and outside of vet school. He told me to make sure that I had friends outside of vet school. When you move to a new city and start at a new school, the people you tend to make friends with are the people in your class. So, I had friends, but I was also very focused on my studying, not really taking time for myself outside of school work. It wasn’t until I suffered from insomnia and went four days without sleeping that I changed my habits. I started back with pole dancing, which was something I did for years before, and had quit when I started vet school. I needed to be active for my brain to be functional. I joined our school’s hockey team, which I laugh at because I didn’t even know how to skate. I just got out to do something other than study. My mental health was at an all time low. I also realized I suffered in the winter from seasonal affective disorder. Today, I’m not coping all that well, and I do not have winter to blame. I do have COVID, but that is not even half of the problem. Work has been draining, and I don’t have any activities, because of COVID, the gyms are closed. My most favourite physical activity, jiu jitsu, is closed. I haven’t been active at all, I am tired even after sleeping. I have zero motivation to do anything. I’m mentally exhausted from work, and feeling incredibly lazy. I am again at a physical and mental low point. I don’t like my job bleeding into my personal time, all of the time. But I have this pressure to finish my medical records, without the time to do them at work. The next job I take is going to need more time for admin work.

One day I came home complaining about my current job and my husband said, it sounds like you don’t even want to be a vet. That isn’t true! I want work-life balance. I want all my records done during my shift, and I want to be able to go home and enjoy my time away from the clinic, instead of spending an hour or two every evening doing my records.

Last night I chatted with some of the ladies from school. During school, we had gatherings that spanned through first to fourth year students geared towards the women of vet med that were mature students, starting vet school in our 30’s, versus straight from college or university in our 20’s. Some pursued other careers and others pursued graduate school but we all found our passion for vet med later in life. One of my colleagues is starting a new job on Monday. I am envious. She will be working 3 shifts a week, and ensured that she had two hours per day for lunch and admin duties. Amazing! We talked about her teaching job that she had taken when the veterinary practice she was at burnt her out.

My husband and I are in this routine of work, work, work, and minimal time spent with each other, and no time spent for ourselves. I’m tired of it. So him and I will need to sit down and discuss what to do to change these issues that I have been having. Something needs to be done, so stay tuned for our solutions.

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