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Wellbeing Habits Essential for Veterinary Professionals

Jen Brandt, PhD, LISW-S, The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine

March 2017

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Wellbeing Habits Essential for Veterinary Professionals


Part 2 of our Wellness Revolution series

With wellbeing emerging as an essential topic in veterinary medicine discussions, articles, and conferences, I have become increasingly curious about how wellbeing is defined and achieved. (I was also curious about how wellbeing is spelled. Is it 2 words? One word? Hyphenated?) In the process of researching this article, I discovered that wellbeing has at least 3 different accepted spellings. This variance in what is right seems symbolic of the wellbeing issue itself because wellbeing can be achieved through multiple approaches. Different preferences and strategies suit different people.

What Is Wellbeing?

One wellbeing definition is when individuals have the psychological, social, and physical resources they need to meet a particular psychological, social, and/or physical challenge.1 Wellbeing includes the presence of positive emotions, the absence of negative emotions, satisfaction with life, and fulfillment and positive functioning.2

Why Is Wellbeing Important?

Even with the best intentions, slowing down and concentrating on what we need to walk the tightrope between resources and challenges can be difficult. Our drive to succeed can come at a cost; for example, we may yearn for simplicity yet struggle to find it. We rationally understand the importance of balance, yet many of us are hard-pressed to achieve or maintain it. Prioritizing the effort is essential, however, as wellbeing is associated with numerous individual, family, and community-related benefits (eg, decreased injury, illness, and disease risk; enhanced immune functioning; increased longevity).2 Also, people with high levels of wellbeing are more productive and contribute more to their communities.2

A Wellbeing Framework

Wellbeing stems from an interactive relationship between various wellness dimensions, with no single perfect plan but rather a spectrum of useful strategies. Often, our needs change from day to day. An ideal plan may need to be adaptive because what works one day may not work the next.

A plans success is dependent on a number of variables (eg, environment, individual preferences, personal accountability, available resources, strengths, interests, life phase).

The essential skills of being a whole, healthy veterinary professional include intentional integration of the following dimensions3:

Occupational Wellness

The professionally well person engages in work to gain personal satisfaction and enrichment consistent with his or her values, goals, and lifestyle.

Intellectual Wellness

The intellectually well person values lifelong learning and seeks to foster critical thinking, develop moral reasoning, expand worldviews, and engage in education for the pursuit of knowledge.

Spiritual Wellness

The spiritually well person seeks harmony and balance by openly exploring the depth of human purpose and its meaning and finding a connection through dialogue and self-reflection.

Social Wellness

The socially well person has a support network based on interdependence, mutual trust, and respect and has developed sensitivity and awareness of others feelings.

Emotional Wellness

The emotionally well person can identify, express, and manage the entire range of feelings and seeks assistance about areas of concern.

Physical Wellness

The physically well person gets enough sleep (ie, 7 to 9 hours for both young adults ages 18 to 25 and adults ages 26 to 644); eats a balanced, nutritious diet; engages in 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity and at least 2 strength training sessions per week5; gets regular medical check-ups; limits intoxicating substance use; and practices safe, healthy sexual relations.

Financial Wellness

A financially well person is fully aware of his or her personal financial status and budget, saves regularly, and manages his or her finances to achieve realistic goals.

Creative Wellness

The creatively well person values and participates in diverse arts and cultural experiences to appreciate and understand the creative world.

Environmental Wellness

The environmentally well person recognizes his or her responsibility to preserve, protect, and improve the environment and appreciates how he or she is interconnected with nature.


Big changes result when many small changes are applied consistently. Start small. We should monitor what we value most and where we spend most of our time and energy. When values and behaviors are out of alignment, get curious. Keep a notebook and jot down 3 good things each day until they become a habit.

References and Author Information

For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

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