Drumming your fingers against your leg. Twirling your hair around your fingers. Biting your nails. Eating a candy bar in the afternoon. Having a drink after work.
These are all self-soothing behaviors that can become repetitive patterns. They can move from being something that makes you feel a bit better to something you need to do.
They can also lose their effectiveness, so that you need more stimulation to get the same level of relief.
At this point, you begin a downward spiral. Your brain craves the relief of the behavior, but it doesn't come. So you either increase the intensity, duration, or frequency of the behavior, or you start adding additional ones.
"Why, yes, I will have a glass of wine and a bowl of ice cream each night before bed. It helps me unwind."
We all have stress, and we all have self-soothing behaviors.
However when your job requires you to deal with emotionally traumatic situations, you may not be aware of how much the work is affecting you, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
It's common to develop a workaholic's drive: THERE'S SO MUCH TO DO, SO I MUST DO MORE!
You push yourself, day after day, to show up and help people and their pets with really challenging, often life-and-death situations.
It's hard and it hurts.
And if you don't have healthy strategies for moving through the pain and back toward solid ground, you may find yourself feeling deflated, discouraged, and depressed.
That's where UNLEASHED (at work & home) comes in with podcasts and programs that help animal-care professionals feel valued, supported, and energized.
This week Dr. Sally Foote joined me to talk about what happens when self-soothing behaviors turn into self-injuring behaviors, such as cutting, alcoholism, drug dependency, and chronic over-work.
When those strategies no longer provide relief, some people consider suicide because they can no longer handle the pain that they are experiencing.
It's imperative that veterinarians, vet techs, and other animal-care professionals understand the risks inherent in their work and develop healthy strategies for mitigating their effects.
Dr. Foote shared many excellent tips of her own and also highly recommended Vet Girl on the Run's superb suicide awareness webinar by Jeannine Moga, MA, MSW, LCSW. Check it out.
Why not give me a call? In your free, 20-minute session, we'll explore ways to boost your levels of fun and productivity.
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