As a veterinarian, having a hobby outside your profession is one of the smartest decisions you can make in your life, no matter how passionate you are about your work. It could be a sport, a creative activity, playing an instrument, a book club or gardening. There are as many hobbies as there are people. Finding your own will help you disconnect from your daily routine, reducing the effects of stress.
How to find your perfect hobby
You love your profession, but ask yourself if “wearing your scrubs” in your free time won’t end up taking its toll on you. The characteristics of clinical work and the continuous stress experienced by most veterinary professionals are causing mental disorders such as anxiety or burnout, leading to depression in some cases, which represents a great threat to the veterinary profession.
Finding an activity or hobby to unwind is a wise decision. In order to be defined as a hobby, it must be an activity that you are really interested in, that serves as entertainment or a distraction in your free time.
Can’t find anything that interests you? You can create your own hobby: just think of something that really makes you happy (that’s not veterinary medicine!).
Or try different activities. See if any of your friends do a sport you’d like to do, or go to singing, theatre or dance classes – maybe your childhood dream was to be a contemporary dancer! If you like to communicate you can write a blog, or have your own podcast or YouTube channel on a topic you love. It could also be something that requires learning a technique such as painting, sculpture, making natural cosmetics or baking classes. Or if you have a pet that needs a lot of exercise, you can do some sport with your furry friend.
Choose the hobby you really enjoy. It will allow you to disconnect from weekday stress, will be beneficial to your health and will help you to be more social.
Why should all veterinary professionals have a hobby?
When you’re doing something you that entertains you or you enjoy, your brain secretes more endorphins and serotonin. In addition to making you feel great, while you were painting, playing the guitar or playing your favourite sport, you stopped thinking! And that’s the most important thing: to be able to disconnect from your clinical cases and your professional agenda.
In addition, having a hobby that you’re passionate about can help you to
Expand and develop your capabilities, and also get to know your strengths and weaknesses. Are you impulsive or are you too thoughtful? Do you find it hard to concentrate? Are you a procrastinator?
Improve your discipline and creativity. Creative activities also have a bonus. Dr Tamlin Conner of the University of Otago, New Zealand, showed in a study that creative activities (e.g. painting, creative cooking, drawing, creative writing) increase enthusiasm, a sense of personal growth and well-being.
Improve your social life and overall quality of life, especially if you join a class or play a team sport and meet interesting people outside your usual circle.
Prevent nervousness, anxiety and depression by promoting a more balanced mental state and self-control.
Are you ready?
Hobbies can allow you to find your hidden talents or vocations. And if you pursue one that requires interaction with other people, it will help you to stimulate your social life and broaden your circle and interests outside the clinic.
Conner, T., DeYoung, C., & Silvia, P. (2016). Everyday creative activity as a path to flourishing. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 13(2), 181-189. doi: 10.1080/17439760.2016.1257049.