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Thrive Through the Holidays

November 6, 2017

THOUGHTS FOR VETERINARY TEAMS TO THRIVE THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS!

The holidays can be stressful and your team experiences additional burdens during the upcoming months. How can you and your veterinary team support each other through this time? By identifying helpful measures, your team can not only survive, but thrive during the holidays!

You may sense, or know based on your medical records, that during the holidays there is an increase of euthanasias. It’s not that the animals are planning it, but there may be other circumstances. Visitors may make comments about a declining pet, or it may be a convenience so that the pet doesn’t pass on the actual holiday while guests are present. Plus, a new pet can be introduced during the holidays to lessen the loss of the previous one.1

This, in and of itself, is stressful. Layer on top of that the demands we place upon ourselves outside of work during the holiday period, and we have a formula for being overwhelmed. Is it any wonder your team may dread the holidays?

How can we help to mitigate some of the stress?

The fact that we are having the discussion, now, is important! We can help by naming the stressors, identify stress relievers and have open discussions during team meetings.

Consider encouraging conversations around the upcoming holidays. Ask your team members, “What stresses you out during the holidays?” Naming stressors is a therapeutic exercise. They may state, “All the meals, buying gifts, too many parties or increase number of euthanasias (perceived or real).” Write out their challenges and burdens either on a white board or large piece of paper for all to see.

Next, allow team members to explain ways they relieve stress. This acts as support in two ways: 1) as managers (or engaged team members), you can see how to offer guidance and support for the relievers, and 2) your team members can see how they can support each other through the seasons.

As managers (or aware team members), you can also consider personal presents to show support. Some ideas are gift certificates to a nearby bookstore, a healthy dining experience or a gift basket with personal spa items. After identifying stressors and relievers, some ideas will come to mind as to how to support each other that is from the heart!

Reflect on Gratitude

Another way to help minimize the impact of the holidays is by focusing on the positive aspects. By identifying what makes your job wonderful and why you enjoy working with your co-workers, it can actually make you feel better. People who experienced gratitude for at least two weeks showed significantly increased happiness, greater satisfaction with life, and higher resilience to stress; this group even reported fewer headaches and illnesses.2

In a survey, almost all respondents reported that saying “thank you” to colleagues “makes me feel happier and more fulfilled”—but on a given day, only 10 percent acted on that impulse.2

So how can this be changed?

First off, look at the cost – nothing! It’s free to voice gratitude. All it takes is a bit of energy, yet the benefits far outweigh the cost.

Watch for people who don’t get thanked often. And don’t forget to thank your boss as well (owners, veterinarians and/or practice managers)!

Finally, explore easy ways to express thankfulness. Maybe have a jar or a white board where people can write comments about what makes them grateful for their job or hospital. Or have people take turns finding a daily inspirational quotes and hang them in a noticeable area.3

You may consider having this information in the client area as well. Having your clients comment on why they come to your hospital might be beneficial in seeing their viewpoints.

The holidays can be stressful. But by taking an active role in identifying stressors and putting into place ways to relieve the stress, the holidays can change into a time of thriving and joy.

You’re not alone! Reach out to CATALYST VetPC to see if there are additional ways we can help to find balance for veterinary teams through the holidays!

Here’s to a Joyful Holiday Season!

Rebecca Rose, CVT

 

References and Resources
1 Article:  4 Ways Pet Owners Talk Themselves into Euthanasia
2 Article:  Five ways to cultivate gratitude at Work
3 Book:  Veterinary Caregiver’s Book of Quotes
Self-Care Tips for Veterinary Team Members – a series of CATALYST VetPC blogs
Article:  7 ways to ward off stress during the holidays