A how-to video by Dr. Dan Siegel
As veterinarians, we share a passion for what we do – a passion that often begins in childhood or adolescence. So why is it that one in six U.S. veterinarians has contemplated suicide, a rate much higher than the national average? Why are burnout, depression and stress such powerful forces in the veterinary profession? Of critical importance, what can individual veterinarians do to improve our own mental health—and, along with it, our ability to better care for colleagues, loved ones and even patients?
Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and founding co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA, discussed wellness, the human mind and the cultivation of well-being during a keynote address at the 2016 AVMA Convention, and he has graciously permitted us to make his speech available for viewing by all AVMA and Student AVMA members. In the speech, he outlines the connections between mind and body, and teaches a simple breathing exercise proven to increase both physical and mental well-being.
This is a powerful presentation that resonated strongly with AVMA Convention attendees, and we strongly encourage you to make time to view it. Dr. Siegel points to scientific evidence showing that mindfulness exercises such as the one he demonstrates here:
- Reduce burnout
- Increase empathy
- Improve one’s sense of well-being
- Change the function and structure of the brain in positive ways
- Improve the immune system
- Raise the body’s level of telomerase, an enzyme that repairs chromosomes
- Cause changes in epigenetic regulators that help prevent autoimmune problems
Attendees at Dr. Siegel’s keynote address praised it as transformative and powerfully motivating, and we’re confident that you’ll be glad you watched it.
We also encourage you to review the many other wellness resources available on AVMA.org. These include a quality of life self-assessment that you can use to identify areas for improvement, and a wide variety of resources to help you address compassion fatigue, work-life balance, stress, financial security, and more.