I am a veterinarian, small business owner, Mom of two and wife of one. I am as guilty as the next person with excuse after excuse as to why I can’t fuel and move my body in a healthy and loving way. I am too busy, work too much, don’t have time. It is too expensive. My family won’t do it. I don’t have anyone to join me or I don’t know what I am doing. All of these excuses block me from the life I want to lead. I am a doctor for cripes sake, I know that I should be eating healthy and exercising!
As a veterinarian, would we tolerate a client that locked their dog away in a dark basement kennel and never fed or watered it properly, never let it out for exercise and ignored its basic needs for life? Of course not!! We would report these clients to the authorities for neglect and abuse. We do the that and worse to our bodies. We can’t survive on lack of sleep, coffee and donuts that linger in the staff lounge, and consider our movement for the day the five-minute wrestling match with the St. Bernard nail trim.
Movement is my medicine, I incorporate it into my day anyway I can. I get up early before the rest of my household and just get it done and out of the way. Not an early riser? Don’t have easy access to a gym? Find ways to incorporate movement into your day. Do wall push-ups in the shower and squats while waiting for your next patient. Set up a circuit in your clinic with a Bosu ball, exercise bands and body weight movements. How long can you balance on one leg while you type up your notes? Have a contest with staff to see who can do a 30 second plank.
Schedule movement into your work day by blocking off 15 minutes to head outside and walk around the building, heck take a dog with you from the kennel and get your animal fix at the same time. Be creative and have fun. The more fun it is the more likely you are to do it and have your staff and family will join you. Grab a friend to hold you accountable and make it more fun.
Think of food as fuel needed to keep your body, your machine, running and performing at its highest level. Implement a clean eating lifestyle and others will follow. I stock my staff lounge with water and healthy snacks. When we get hangry we have no reason to reach for the sugary treats that only result in a blood sugar drop later in the day, requiring more caffeine and sugar to boost us back up. Ditch the Diet Coke and caffeine and switch to water, water and more water. Buy your staff water bottles to keep them hydrated and away from the soda and coffee.
We are not productive in a cluttered environment. My own office is my personal space that I can use for yoga and meditation. Take time to transform your space so it works for you. Trash the unread pile of journals, you can find it all online anyway. Ditch the notes you haven’t cracked open since graduation that are collecting furballs. Turn off the overhead fluorescent lights and get some pretty lamps. Have an office chair that is ergonomic and keeps your body in safe positions. Get a stand-up desk. Purchase a fun rug. Get a sun lamp. Have nice relaxing scents from candles or essential oil diffuser. Schedule 15 minutes into you lunch hour to stop, meditate, do a few yoga moves and reset and recharge for the afternoon. Heck, take a nap on that new rug.
Sleep deprivation is the condition of not having enough sleep; it can be either chronic or acute. A chronic sleep-restricted state can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and weight loss or weight gain. Sleep is instrumental in our lives as veterinarians to be the best fixer we can be.
Proper sleep hygiene starts long before you get into bed. In-cooperating daily movement, clean eating habits, cutting out caffeine and alcohol is a must. Couple that with daily mediation and other mental health wellness like journaling, an attitude of gratitude, affirmations and even coloring and your sleep will improve. Keep a schedule even on the weekends. Ditch the electronics at least one hour before bedtime. See your physician for a health assessment.
Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Have a mattress that works for your body type and invest in proper pillows and linens. Purchase a salt lamp and essential oil diffuser with lavender, and maybe take a warm bubble bath to help with relaxation. Make sure your room is dark and cool. Use a noise machine to drown out any unwanted disturbances. As veterinarians we all likely have pets, but pets are one of the biggest sleep interrupters of all! Consider having them sleep in other areas of the house.
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