Why it’s Crucial Veterinary Professionals Create Personal Space

We also hold the space for animals to be happy, ill, terrified, full of vigor, full of adrenaline, full of love, and everything in between.

On any given day, we may see anywhere from 15–40 (or maybe even 100) pets in an 8–12 hours time window.

Note: When I was younger, I used to help with a monthly low-cost vaccination clinic. I can assure you that there were locations where we routinely saw upwards of 100 pets at one location!

Regardless of the number of pets, you may see in a day. Perhaps you don’t see family-owned pets, perhaps your work is in a zoo, on a farm, in the classroom.

You are a helper, an educator, a trainer, a caregiver, and a giver in general. Sometimes you’re the facilitator — the in-between for healing and learning to occur. You’re always holding the space for someone else to grow, to heal, and to be.


Where’s YOUR space to grow, heal, learn, recover, play, nourish?

This is a vital question that needs to be answered, and in this article, I aim to offer you some ways to go about answering this question for yourself!

The emerging data points to a collective similarity that many veterinary professionals have. I was introduced to this nugget of wisdom at the 2018 Wellbeing Summit hosted by the AVMA and Zoetis in Schaumburg, Il.

This data illuminates a risk factor for depression, psychological distress, compassion fatigue, burnout and worse.

Veterinary professionals often surround their entire identity as their working titles.

Note: While that tidbit is common in our society (not healthy- but common), I’m not going to go down that rabbit hole for the sake of this post.

This next piece of data was the real shocker for me.

Only a very small percentage of professionals had interests or hobbies. From those who did, an even smaller number had hobbies that didn’t involve animals.

We all know that when we greet any animal there’s this sneaky little physical exam involved. So your still “in a role”!!

We try to make it casual, but if anyone knows us, they know exactly what we’re doing. If they don’t know us, something has to be said to explain our odd behavior of checking for calculus on canines, glancing at descended or non-descended testicles, feeling for masses, parting hair for flea dirt, and stealthily sniffing ears!

Put aside the fact that you MAY be able to restrain yourself from this admittedly weird behavior.

Your brain is not separating. Your heart is not engaging in new experiences. Your demeanor is not disengaging. There’s a residual of the veterinary duties that come with you during your transition from veterinarian mode to non-veterinarian mode. This residual will always be present if you are not consciously doing something to release the natural tension that arises from your work.

When you hold the same types of in-role habits you’re still in your comfort zone. Even if that comfort zone is wracked with mounting duties, anxiety or sadness. Even the feeling of sadness can be comforting in the sense that it is familiar. Sometimes we leave one role to jump into another role- but that role is still not defining who we are (or it doesn’t have to.)

The Role of Hobbies in Creating Personal Space

Hobbies promote creativity, confidence, socialization, personal development and help reduce negative stress.

Hobbies and interests can bring your total awareness into the moment as time flies by. Sometimes, you almost lose yourself in this flow of enjoyment. It’s almost as if you were a child again!

I learned about what it meant to hold space or create space through my training as a personal coach and yoga instructor, and it is something that I have embraced and incorporated into daily routines.

What exactly do I mean by creating or holding space?

It can be creating the space in a relationship to be heard by scheduling a time or asking for undivided listening by someone you are close to. It could be a space in your 24-hour day to decompress and re-engage by booking a much-needed massage and planning your day or week to keep that appointment. It can be a space away from work to heal emotionally and work out a budget to support it. It can be a space to explore new opportunities, new experiences, or new connections by joining a meetup group or local sports team.

Hobbies help you prioritize your time. If you had an urgent matter at home, say a water leak in your house, chances are you would create the time to take care of it asap. According to Parkinson’s law, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, if you had a game night or paint class to attend, likely you would get your work tasks done more efficiently.

Having something to look forward to can also boost positive emotions. Research shows that in addition the actual vacation, the planning, and reminiscing phases are uplifting parts of the process. These phases can lift moods up to 6 months before or 6 months after the vacation! So if you haven’t already, then better get started planning your next vacation! And while you’re at it, go ahead and think about a few of the awesome moments from your last one!

The Problem Is Not the Problem…

“The problem is not the problem, it’s the way you are thinking about the problem.”

I adopted this mantra after reading the book How to Keep People from Pushing Your Buttons, written by two psychologists. The major takeaway from the book was to shift your thinking to solution-based thinking. You see, we often say that we want this or that in our lives. Yet, we also seem to rattle off never-ending lists of reasons that justify why we can’t have what we want to have in our lives.

I have a saying, “You want Light? Then be the Light!”

There’s another saying from a classic rom-com, The Wedding Date, “Every woman has the exact love life that she wants.” I was as dismayed as Debra Messing’s character was.

“Excuse me!?!?”

At the time of watching this movie, I was in my twenties. Yet, it still wasn’t ‘landing’ with me. Until now that is! Now, I get it. And better yet, I agree with it!

Furthermore, add that line of logic to your body, your work-life balance, your house, your job, the kid, the list goes on and on. Simply insert your desire! Insert it regularly, deliberately, on PURPOSE, and with INTENTION.

I support your decision to create the space in your life for you to live the life you desire. Space to breathe, to think, to be. Understand the benefits of engaging in new hobbies and the risks of not living a diverse life. By taking action to create the life you desire, you ensure that you will show up fully present at work to serve your clients and patients at your very best. Taking control of your life will allow you to be 100 % engaged when you go home. And last but not least, taking action towards your desired life will allow you to INTENTIONALLY get those rusty hobby/interest gears moving.

For more information on this subject, read about the Major Key to Wellbeing

Quick Tips to Create Spaces for Yourself!

Step 1: Mindset- Start by giving yourself permission to create the space you need. Humans have traveled to outer space- the potential manifestations in our lives are as limited as our beliefs about them. You can figure out how to be on that softball team.

Step 2: Plan- Don’t leap off the edge without a parachute. “The parachute will open once you leap” (but you have to be wearing it). You have to buy the rack for your car to carry the kayak. You’ll also need to budget the finances to support 1 extra day off a month for the kayak trip and hire a babysitter. Catch my drift?

Step 3: Act- Get out of your head and into your heart. Go be where time zips passed and your troubles melt away.

Food for thought to help loosen the rust!

  • What would you enjoy doing if time, money, logistics, and other resources weren’t a concern?
  • When was the last time you recall that time FLEW by?
  • Now, taking 1 perceived challenge at a time, brainstorm ideas to figure out how you might obtain the money, create the time, figure out the logistics, and gather the resources to get yourself into LIVING.
  • A tip for this type of self-talk is to consider yourself as a friend. How would you talk to a dear friend about solving this so that they could partake in something they truly deserve to do? What types of solutions might you offer, what tone of voice would you use to encourage and empower this person?
  • What are you saying to yourself to support this mindset shift? “I can’t, I wish, I hope” or “I will, what can I do to make this happen?, or I could- but I’m not putting in the effort to make it happen”

For more in-depth and personalized discussion reach out for one-on-one coaching. The highest performers in the world have coaches because at the end of the day and no matter our titles- we are all human, and we’re all subject to the elements of living.

If you are stuck in life, hiring a professional can help you break free and work through challenges you may be facing to unearth a new chapter in your life. Cut valuable time off the learning curve and get you where you want to be- faster.

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Originally published at getmotiveted.com on September 13, 2018.



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Renee Machel

Renee Machel

Renee is a nationally recognized speaker, coach, yoga instructor, mindfulness, & meditation guide. She co-founded Get MotiVETed and is CEO of Mind of Bliss.