5 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety (in vet school and real life)

Anxiety.

Most students have dealt with this at some point in their academic lives. Heck, most people deal with anxiety on a daily basis.

I think that the important thing to realize here is that no matter the grade, the debt, the conflicts – at the end of the day you are achieving something in veterinary school.  In just four years you will be a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and at that point it really doesn’t matter if you were first or last in your class.

These tips don’t just apply to those in veterinary school.  They can be applied broadly in your everyday life.  Below are five tips that help me when I feel like my chest is going to turn inside out due to anxiety (it is a wonderful feeling…):

1. WRITE IT DOWN.  When I start to feel myself going into a downward spiral, I take out my journal and write.  For 15 minutes EVERY day, I write everything I can think of… most of the time I write to do lists (not the most helpful), but sometimes there is a spark of inspiration where I really break through and determine not just what I am feeling, but why.

2. MEDITATE.  Ok, I know.  Some people are really against meditating.  To be honest with you, I kind of hate doing it because it makes me sit with the things I am working through and actually slow down.  There are a few ways I have found to make this easier (and it doesn’t involve a meditation app).

  • First, I breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, then breathe out for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds again,  and repeat.  I keep this up for 5-10 minutes.  It helps me focus on clearing my thoughts.
  • Second, I stop caring about whether I am having thoughts or not and just let them flow through me like water.  I know this is contradictory to the first meditation tip, but give yourself space to not care whether or not your mind is running a million miles per hour.
  • Third, I listen to relaxing music.  I personally use Spotify, but I have used Pandora, 8tracks and iTunes in the past – whatever works!  Mostly, I search for “Yoga” and play whatever I find.

I could go on and on about meditation tips (and I probably will in another blog post), but if you need any help, please reach out!

3. MOVE YOUR BODY. I write about this frequently on instagram because I love to run, but just moving your body works.  It releases the pent up energy that causes anxiety to build up.  It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise; dance, jog, do yoga, do cartwheels, jump up and down, whatever you want to do – just move!

4. TAKE A BATH. My personal favorite. Light some candles, read a book, relax in the hot water.  Take a moment for yourself.

5. Most importantly, TAKE DAILY ACTION TO PREVENT ANXIETY AND DEVELOP HEALTHY COPING SKILLS.  This has changed my life.  I developed a daily practice of the steps listed above to help mediate my anxiety.  Through the daily practice of forgiveness and acceptance, I can move through life without feeling anxious all of the time.  I can forgive myself and keep pushing forward.

Do you have any tips for dealing with anxiety? Feel free to reach out at travelingdogtor@gmail.com.

Until next time!

SB

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