Hearing and smell are perhaps the senses that get hit the hardest in veterinary practices. Our profession has to coexist with the noise generated by people and animals, and we have to get used to the different smells of the clinic. This noise and smell pollution has repercussions on our nervous system, increasing stress. In this article, we give you solutions to alleviate this situation.
Noise in veterinary clinics and how it relates to stress
We are so used to working with barking, howling and cross-talk that in those rare moments when no dog is giving up trouble in hospitalization we feel like we are in heaven.
Without even being aware of it, the permanent noise level limits concentration and increases stress. The psychological overexertion is tremendous and ends up draining our energy faster. We could define this as noise pollution: a simultaneous accumulation of ordinary sounds in a given area, generating an excessive and overwhelming ensemble effect.
The permanent noise level limits concentration and increases stress. Nature sounds or soft music regulate our mood.
In contrast, nature sounds or soft music also regulate our mood and promote physical health and psychological well-being.
The effects of music on our body
Psychobiology has extensively studied this close relationship between music and the brain. There is growing scientific evidence that music activates the brain’s pleasure areas, regulates stress, boosts the immune system and enhances social cohesion.
Music-derived pleasure has both euphoric and analgesic properties, as it activates the mesolimbic and mesocortical dopaminergic areas – just like sweets or sex? – and the mesencephalic areas that trigger the release of endogenous opioid peptides such as endorphins.
Music regulates stress reactions: it regulates heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and the respiratory rate among others by modulating the hormones involved in stress regulation: noradrenaline, cortisol, serotonin or beta-endorphins.
What can I do to improve noise pollution in my veterinary clinic and reduce stress?
One of the first actions, if possible, could be the soundproofing of post-surgical and hospitalization areas. This will limit the noise to a specific area and the veterinarians and nurses in charge of them will be able to enjoy a well-deserved auditory break when they leave.
Once the noise has been reduced, find soft music playlists or nature sounds (water, birds, breeze, sea waves, etc.) and broadcast them in certain areas of the clinic through a background music system or a strategically placed Bluetooth player.
Reduce the noise soundproofing post-surgical and hospitalization areas and broadcast soft music playlists o nature sounds in certain areas of the clinic.
With soft music:
- You can promote relaxation, good socialization and improve digestion in the rest areas.
- You can improve interaction and a positive atmosphere in the waiting room, limiting the occasions of conflict with customers.
- You can help to cope with the load in the busiest work areas and even promote the recovery of hospitalized animals.
What about scents?
Are you familiar with the expression “smells like a hospital”? It’s that characteristic smell of hospital sanitizers and disinfectants. In the collective imagination, it is connected to a cold, sterile and inhospitable place and in most people it evokes sensations such as fear, alertness, insecurity, pain or sadness.
In day-to-day veterinary clinics, we have to add to this olfactory trigger the whole range of smells that accompany us in our profession and that, no matter how accustomed we are, we dislike at the very least.
You can compensate for this amalgam of smells with pure, quality essential oil diffusers. For example, lavender, sweet orange and ylang-ylang are scents that promote calm, tranquility and relaxation.
Would you like to give them a try?
*This article has been written with the expert guidance of Dr. Eva Piredda (@vivolindo), former clinical veterinarian and current researcher on the spaces we inhabit and their relationship with neuroscience and well-being. If you are interested in knowing more about her, discover her fascinating background in this interview.