What's in your "Tough-Day" Toolkit?
Having a wobbly day makes you human, not a failure. We all have them, please remember that. Sometimes veterinary practice throws out those unexpected days that put you into a headspace that you don't expect. What do you do on these days?
One of my own coaches says "my day was cr*p, but I'm still amazing".
How do you think that comes about?
Infallible self worth is the answer.
Having a bad day doesn't make you a bad person.
Feeling bad doesn't make you a bad person.
It certainly doesn't make you a failure.
You are not defined by your day.
It was all stuff that happened to you, but it wasn't you.
Imagine you had infallible self worth, how would you treat yourself on these days?
You'd be kind and caring and treat yourself like a friend. You're the person you'll spend the longest time with after all. You certainly wouldn't beat that friend and over analyse their day, and make them replay it again (and again). You wouldn't tell them they're a failure and useless. You'd tell them that they're amazing and you love them, and that tomorrow is a new day. I coach mindset and Broadband Consciousness, and yet I still have the odd bad day, and I'm absolutely fine with that. There's still 'bad' stuff happens in my life. I just don't pitch camp and make the bad day into a bad week. I know thoughts lead to feelings, and that maybe something else is choosing my thoughts for me if I'm feeling bad, such as my pre-programmed subconscious critic. Most days I choose a better story, but some days I sit with it and that's OK. 'Happiness and unhappiness are the high and low tides on a great sea called contentment.'
Get prepared for how you'll deal with those days, like a Tough Day Toolkit. How could you implement this for YOU?
Here are a few suggestions:
Calling friends and family, it's good to talk. We all need human connection, especially on days which seem a bit wobblier. Taking your mind of things can help. If you have specific case related worries, call a vet friend to get that alternative, kind and forgiving perspective that is trickier to see on these days. I'll say it again, it's good to talk.
Having a hot bath and spa night (I always like to keep a few bath bombs in - just in case). Take some time for you, look after the vehicle; it's the only one you have.
Journalling and externalising your day helps many people (it certainly does me). I am a huge advocate for gratitude journalling, and particularly love journals with prompts, like this one. I also like to journal 'wins', ie things that went well. This puts me in the correct mindset to reflect positively on the day, and tunes my brain to look for these things the next day, in the long term tweaking my perspective. This doesn't have to be anything major, on trickier days it might be "I survived the day" or "my surgery went smoothly". Finally, I always note things that I'm looking forward to; we are all to used to fearing our future in advance, I've taken to enjoying it in advance.
Watch your favourite TV programme or film (I love the Grinch even in July, ok I admit it, I'm weird).
Create a good memories box, book or albums to look through. I love looking through holiday photos and good outcomes from work. I have an album on my phone of screenshots of kind comments, photos of client gifts and cards. It reminds me of all the wonderful things about our career, when that negative inner critic wants to zone in on the bad.
Go for a walk somewhere you love, or even just change your state and get out of the house. If you want some motivation to get running, follow Nat Scroggie from This Vet Runs.
Put on your favourite music on, even create a playlist of songs that you love. Remember, make these easy things to do on trickier days.
Have some affirmations on hand, I have a whole post on affirmations. Look at those ones with certainty, that will calm you down. For example "I am enough","I have survived every day before", "everything will be ok".
Maybe meditation works for you, make it easy with downloading an app such as Headspace.
I always make sure I'll have food in that I'll enjoy, whilst practising self-care. (In years gone by, I used to think drive-thru McDonalds was treating myself for a long shift, namely because it was the only place open and gave a short term high. The trouble was, I did a lot of long shifts and it didn't benefit me in the long term positively, I felt worse for it. Now, I leave my favourite meal in the freezer, so it just needs warming up and no prep necessary).
Have a few favourite quotes or sayings. One of my favourites is "Every genuine mistake is simply a good intention that didn't go according to plan" by Richard Wilkins. This brought me so much calm over the years.
Always remember Vetlife, available 24/7 and anonymous.
On the bad days, you won't necessarily think to do these things - so make it easy for your future self. You don't have to do all these things, just figure out what works for you.
Any suggestions for anything else to go on the kit?