Mental Health and Wellbeing

Life as a vet and a vet nurse can be amazing…the patients we interact and bond with in the consult room or out on a visit mean a lot to us especially when they come into the practice unwell and go home much better. 

Many days go really well, though as Maria Karlsson pointed out in the FECAVA Newsletter Editorial last month, it does not all go as smoothly as we would like. 
How can we try to make it better? It is often the non-clinical scenarios or the emotional side of our role as vets and nurses that get the better of us or cause some of the greatest stress.
We have to learn to be aware of how we feel during the day. Are we looking after ourselves to give us the best chance to deal with whatever comes through the door?
This is where the acronym HALT comes into play
It is about being aware of how you react when you are either Hungry, Angry, Late or Tired (HALT); this awareness is one of the tools we can have in our tool kit in modern vet practice

H Hungry
A Angry
L Late
T Tired

HALT is a handy acronym! 
Use it to remind us to take a moment (HALT) and check in with ourselves if we are feeling Hungry, Angry, Late or Tired. If we are feeling any of these emotions then we may not be in the best place to deal with the unexpected or the more challenging consultation/operation. These factors or emotions may be out with our control, but being self-aware of them and their potential contribution can help keep us focused.
Being any of these things, can cause us, in any walk of life, to react differently from how we would normally. It may heighten our reactions, lead to a change in our behaviour to a situation we would normally take in our stride.
In an ideal world, if you were feeling any of these emotions, you would fix them; have something to eat; drink a cup of coffee; have a snooze; or take five minutes to reduce your feelings of anger. We all appreciate that this is so much easier said than done, so sometimes the best we can do is acknowledging that is how we are feeling and ensuring we don’t let those emotions get the better of us.
In your work environment, it is good to try to develop a Take a Break culture. It might not always be possible, but taking a break to have some food, a drink, some fresh air does help. And if you’re running late it still helps to stop for a few minutes and take a deep breath before calling the next client in. 
The NHS in the UK have been promoting this thinking for a few years now.
Let’s learn to acknowledge our own emotions and feelings and how we react. If you are Hungry, Angry, Late or Tired, you are unlikely to be functioning to the best of your ability, so for your own sake, your colleagues and your patients….. HALT! And try and fix it.