In Life Boost with Dr. Amelia, Associate IndeVet and health coach Dr. Amelia Knight shares tips to lead a happier and healthier life as a veterinarian.
Boost your energy with kindness
When you think of “being more healthy,” does it feel like another draining thing on your to-do list?
Our society has done a really good job of making health synonymous with deprivation, will-power, and going against what makes you feel good. “Workout more even though you’re exhausted.” “Eat less even though you’re hungry.” “Don’t eat the food you love, ‘be good’ and eat the food you should.” Not exactly appealing, is it?
These messages have given “getting healthy” a bad rep. In reality, health is about nourishing your body with what it needs to thrive. True health shouldn’t be another thing to check off your to-do list, it should be what’s giving you energy and the motivation to tackle your to-do list.
This decade has been tough on the veterinary community (and beyond). One of the biggest challenges is that fuses have shortened. We’re suffering from a rampant kindness deficiency. People don’t feel good.
It’s hard to be kind when you feel crappy. Now, I know you’re thinking you’re not a part of that. The veterinary community is filled with compassionate people with giant hearts! The kindness deficiency, however, isn’t just in the way we treat each other. The kindness deficiency starts in the way we’re taking care of ourselves.
True health is achieved when you learn to start working with your body and mind instead of against it. “Getting healthy” doesn’t mean forcing yourself to the gym, counting calories, or doing things you don’t want to do. “Getting healthy” starts with listening to your body and mind and doing more of the things that make you feel good.
The holidays will be here before we know it. And while they can be a wonderful time for celebration, they can also be filled with stress, indulgences, and guilt.
Now is the perfect time to start prioritizing you by supporting your body and mind one decision at a time. See how many of these energy-boosting habits you can do each day! Remember this isn’t about perfection and checking every box, it’s about feeling your best.
Encourage your friends, families, and co-workers to join you to start a much-needed positive kindness ripple effect.
Tip 1: Start the day with a big glass of water.
Are you running on coffee all day? Don’t underestimate the power of water. Your brain is 75% water. Staying hydrated is critical if you want to stay energized with mental clarity throughout the day.
If you’re having trouble focusing, exhausted by the afternoon, irritable, stressed, experiencing brain fog or a headache, take a moment to think about how much water you’ve had to drink before you reach for a Coke, latte, or energy drink. Craving sugar or hungry? Drink a glass of water before indulging. A lot of times all of these signs are really a signal that you need more water.
If water seems way too boring, add fruit and herbs to make it feel more special! Lemon and lime juice are easy go-to’s, but here are some other combinations for inspiration:
- Lime + cucumber + mint leaves
- Rasperries + lemon
- Grapefruit juice + rosemary
- Strawberry + basil
- Cucumber + lemon
Tip 2: Think of 3 things you’re grateful for.
As an IndeVet, I love that genuine gratitude is one of our core values! If you want to multi-task, start your day by thinking of 3 things you’re grateful for as you enjoy your glass of water.
Tip 3: Get outside.
It’s amazing how much of a recharge and energy boost you can get by spending just a few minutes outside. One of the awesome hospitals I’ve worked with recently has a wonderful outdoor space with several picnic tables. Employees have the perfect spot to soak up sun while having lunch. I love this!!
As the days get shorter, it’s easy to spend the whole day indoors without ever getting a moment outside. Try to get outside for at least a moment to feel the sun on your skin or to take in a deep rejuvenating breath of fresh air.
Tip 4: Take a deep breath.
I’m going to keep recommending taking a deep breath, because we all need the reminder. Breathing is such a powerful opportunity to practice kindness towards each other and ourselves. Getting into the habit of taking even a few mindful breaths each day is a great chance to check in with your body and mind and to release daily stress.
If you’re experiencing a short fuse, taking a moment to breathe and to identify where the frustration is really coming from can help prevent saying something you regret. Similarly, if you’re on the receiving end of an unkind comment taking a deep breath before responding can be the difference between inflating versus defusing a situation.
Tip 5: Enjoy an exercise snack!
When do you typically snack? Of course, we snack because we’re hungry. Other times, there’s something else we really need. We turn to snacks when we’re bored, procrastinating, in need of an energy boost, or as an outlet for our emotions. In those cases, see if an exercise snack is what you really need!
Put on a favorite song and move your body for a few minutes, go for a short walk with your dog, go up and down the stairs a few times, or stretch your body with a quick yoga flow. See what kind of snack works for you!
Tip 6: Fuel your brain!
Your brain weighs 3 pounds, but it uses 20% of your body’s energy. Are you fueling it for optimal performance? As veterinarians, we need our brains to be running optimally. Food is fuel for your body and mind. Try to incorporate at least one of these brain foods each day:
- Blueberries (I like to call these brain berries)
- Chocolate (85% or darker is best for brain power)
- Leafy greens
- Wild Salmon
Here are some ideas on how to enjoy them:
- Enjoy a quick and easy brain-boosting egg mug breakfast to start the day off strong.
- Slightly defrost frozen blueberries, sprinkle cinnamon and cacao (or cocoa) powder, and stir. The juices from the blueberries will create a delicious chocolatey sauce!
- Enjoy salmon seasoned with ginger, garlic, and turmeric along with a side of leafy greens and/or broccoli. I love using flavored extra virgin olive oils and different spice combinations to make simple greens and broccoli delicious.
- These salted chocolate coffee energy balls taste like a brownie and are a perfect snack to power you throughout the day.
Tip 7: Be mindful of energy boosts.
Start paying attention to the times during the day when you have the most energy and make a mental note (or create a list!) of the food or activities you think contributed to that.
You may discover that exercise snacking gives you an awesome energy boost during the day. Movement becomes a lot easier to prioritize when it’s seen as a source of mood-boosting energy instead of an obligation to “earn” food.
The same goes for food! The more you start paying attention to which meals leave you focused, energized, and comfortable in your body, the easier it will be to turn to those foods more often.
Hospital leaders take note! This is key if you want to optimize productivity and happiness in the workplace. Pizza lunches may be exciting in the moment, but how many staff members start the afternoon full, lethargic, and ready for a nap? The same goes for those bagel and donut breakfasts.
It’s really awesome to acknowledge hard work and to support your employees, but make sure that’s setting you and your team up for success. Play around with different meals and be mindful of the aftermath effect. Involve your staff by asking them to anonymously rate two things at the end of the day: how much they enjoyed the food and how they felt after.
Investing a few extra dollars for a nourishing breakfast or lunch will have an enormous impact on your entire hospital health, happiness, and success. Employee satisfaction is more important than ever before. Let me know if you’d like more posts on this topic!
Tip 8: Write down 3 successes for the day.
As a profession, we tend to be really hard on ourselves. As high-achievers, we want to do it all, and we want it to be perfect. With those tendencies, it’s easy for feelings of Imposter Syndrome to creep in. Do you tend to end the day focusing on the one patient you couldn’t help instead of the huge number of patients you did?
Start to write down at least 3 successes at the end of each day. These don’t have to be monumental achievements; they can be any little win for the day. Our brains are really good at remembering everything that went wrong and completely forgetting what went really well. Try this habit for at least a week and see how you (and your level of confidence) feel!
As IndeVets, we lead by example. Share what energy-boosting habits you do on social media and encourage others to join you. The more we take care of ourselves, the easier it will be to be kind to each other.