Esteemed veterinary industry friend and clinical psychologist, Amber Owen, has helped us develop practical stress management strategies, tailored specifically for veterinary professionals to use.

Listen to her insights and read below the four ways to reduce stress in your life.


1. Noticing

  • You can’t control what happens in the future.
  • You can’t control the pandemic, the world economy or how your government manages its response.
  • And you can’t control your feelings.

There is no way to eliminate the normal fear and anxiety that you’re feeling. But you can control what you do, in the here and now. By noticing what is actually happening in the here and now, you reduce your focus on the unhelpful worries about things that you can’t control or influence. The simplest way to do this is to notice what is happening outside and inside your body. It helps you to use your rational brain and regulate or calm down the fight/flight response.

A really simple way to “notice” is to ask yourself simple questions, like:

  • What can I hear around me right now?
  • What sensations can I feel in my body right now?
  • Where is the most difficult sensation I am feeling?

2. Naming

Naming involves silently and non-judgmentally acknowledging whatever is “showing up” inside you:

  • Thoughts
  • Feelings
  • Emotions
  • Memories
  • Sensations
  • Urges.

Take the stance of a curious scientist, observing what’s going on in your inner world. As you do this, often it’s helpful to put this into words, and silently say to yourself something like, “I’m noticing anxiety”, or “Here’s frustration”, or “There’s my mind worrying” or “I’m having a feeling of sadness” or “I’m having thoughts about how I can’t cope with this stress right now”.


3. Making space

This involves making room for difficult feelings and being kind to yourself. Difficult feelings are guaranteed to keep on showing up as this crisis unfolds, and likely for as long as you continue to work in a challenging and valuable role such as yours. We can’t stop difficult feelings from arising; they’re normal reactions. But we can open up and make space for them: acknowledge that they are normal, allow them to be there (even though they hurt), and treat ourselves kindly. If you’ve ever flown on a plane, you would have heard: “In the event of an emergency, put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” Self compassion is your own oxygen mask; if you need to look after others, you’ll do it a whole lot better if you’re also taking good care of yourself. It can help to ask yourself:

  • If someone I loved was going through this experience and feeling what I am feeling, how would I treat them?
  • What kind and caring things would I do for them?
  • How would I behave towards them?
  • What might I say to reassure them?

Then, try treating yourself the same way.

4. Connecting

The final step is connecting – no matter who we are, all humans require connection to function well and to take care of themselves effectively. Reach out for help, assistance, support, and advice. This includes reaching out to:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Neighbours
  • Colleagues
  • Health professionals
  • Your social networks.

And if you are able to offer support to others, let them know; you can be a resource for other people, just as they can for you.