Do you have a friend who seems to always bounce back no matter what life throws at her? You may try to justify her resilience by saying to yourself “My situation was more difficult,” or “I just take things more seriously.”
I have a friend like that. She seems to be a well-being Jedi. Yoda, teach me your ways!
What I’ve learned from having a wonderful well-being role model is that you have to start small and create habits. Like Luke Skywalker training to become a Jedi, only after mastering the Force could he face his biggest challenge—Darth Vader—or in your case, personal well-being. Here are five ways for you to master the Force:
#1: Practice self-kindness
Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.” This concept holds true when you are learning how to become a well-being Jedi. You have to take care of yourself if you want to be able to help others. “Simple but hard to implement, the idea is…” says Yoda.
Sometimes s#!% happens. And, though we may play a part in it, we can’t let blame consume us. Take a look at your contribution to the s#!%, learn from it, and move on. Punishing yourself until the end of time is not productive. It will not undo what happened, and it will prevent you from moving forward.
So, young padawan, when you start to think “I suck,” or “This is all my fault,” let that be your trigger to change the way you talk to yourself. Ask yourself, if my friend were in my shoes, what would I say to her?
#2: Let go of perfectionism
We work in the medical field; shouldn’t we always strive to do things perfectly?
Perfectionism and doing things to the best of your ability are not the same thing. Perfectionism is tied to others’ perception of you, and no matter how hard you may try, you cannot control what others think of you, right or wrong.
Historically, my perfectionism has come out in my communications with others. If I felt I didn’t say the right thing at the right time, I would never let myself off the hook.
I encourage you to get down and dirty and really examine where perfectionism shows up in your life. Once we know how our perfectionism manifests, we can do something about it!
#3: Set boundaries
Setting boundaries: This is the one habit veterinary professionals struggle with the most, and I’m no exception. On my journey to personal wellness, setting boundaries has been my biggest weakness.
For me, the most important boundary I wanted to set was leaving work “relatively” on time. But first, I had to get over my fear of the whole clinic going up in flames because I left on time at the end of my shift.
Reality check: The world will definitely not end without me, and the practice will go on functioning after I go home for the evening.
The following steps helped me set up my boundaries:
- Determine what’s important to you. What is something that you do because you are worried of what others will think about you? This is a great question to discover where you may need a boundary in your life.
- Get specific. I had to get clear on what “relatively” meant to me, so I came up with a 15- to 20-minute leeway at the end of my shift to ensure I was able to wrap up any loose ends. (You know, so the practice wouldn’t catch my loose ends on fire…)
- Determine your flexibility. When are you going to uphold this boundary? I wanted to start small, so I decided I would leave on time for two of my five shifts to begin with.
- Identify the consequences if your boundaries are not upheld. This is an important step, because if you don’t follow through, your boundary is useless. For me, the consequences included burnout, unhappiness, and a lack of productivity.
- See what happens. Once I started taking care of myself, I found that I was more productive with my time because I wanted to complete my work on time each day so I didn’t have to stay late. I was happier because I believed I would have time to do something for myself. I was more proactive in handing off my patients, so shift change was smoother. This was a game changer! I finally made time for myself, and I was able to do it without letting anyone down.
#4: Practice mindfulness
How can we work on a problem we don’t know exists? When we have negative thoughts it’s easy to spiral out of control. Mindfulness is that crossroads where, instead of going down the rabbit hole of negative thoughts, you choose the path of self care. Ask yourself some grounding questions like:
- Am I upholding my boundaries?
- Am I considering all relevant information?
- Am I thinking logically?
- If I were feeling more positive would I feel different about this situation?
- If this situation were happening to a friend, how would I console her?
The next time you are in a situation and can feel a downward spiral coming on, channel your inner Yoda and say, “Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.”
#5: Focus on your gratitude
Sometimes, as a veterinary professional, it’s hard to stay positive. Some days are wonderful, but others it seems like you have to euthanize everything that walks in the door. Practicing gratitude is a powerful tool that will prove useful on your hardest days. To practice gratitude, follow these steps:
- Grab a board or a journal. Make sure you write or speak your what you’re grateful for.
- Write three specific things you are grateful for each day.
- Challenge yourself to do this every day for 21 days.
- See what happens and repeat.
Patience you must have, my young padawan! If you continue to seek well-being and use the Force, one day (in the midst of feeling tired and overwhelmed), you might ask yourself, “What am I grateful for?” rather than focusing on the bad.
So, will you use these five habits of the Force for good or evil?
“Yes, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But, beware of the Dark Side. Anger, fear, aggression; the Dark Side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.” —Yoda
Use the Force to gain inner peace, and happiness you shall find.
Kristina is an Account Manager with VSS, a leadership coach, and a Certified Veterinary Technician. She and her goofy giraffe/dog named Wesson love to take long bike rides together. Kristina also enjoys drawing veterinary cartoons, photography, yoga, and traveling the world. Professionally, Kristina is passionate about the subject of leadership and well-being.