Kate Richards – RCVS President 2021-22
In this blog RCVS Senior Vice-President and Chair of the Mind Matters Initiative Dr Kate Richards MRCVS writes about how best to conquer the Winter Blues.
For some the phrase ‘Winter Blues’ may conjure up memories of Dr Feelgood and The Animals, for others it describes their feelings at this time of year.
It’s important to acknowledge it is perfectly normal to feel a bit down just now with the lack of sunlight, chill and post-festive slump. This combination can leave us low, tired and sapped of energy and motivation.
This year we have another stress due to financial challenges and uncertainty for the year ahead as well as professional pressures arising from pandemic pet purchases, the lingering impact of Covid and the workforce challenges across the sector.
However, there are a variety of things you can do to help yourself, and it is something the Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) is promoting to all members of the veterinary team. Have a look at our Working Through Winter webpage to find out more.
Sustaining our emotional and mental health enables us to manage what life throws at us, both personally and professionally, and helps prevent anxiety and depression. The work of the MMI extends to veterinary students as it is vital to embed this awareness and knowledge of resources in our undergraduates.
The MMI team visited each of the veterinary schools in Freshers /Welcome Week to talk about the resources available through MMI and answer questions about the project. At the school I visited, I gave the MMI talk on a Sunday afternoon, followed by final years telling the group about the various societies they could join. ‘I wish I’d known about Mind Matters when I was in first year,’ a final year student whispered to me afterwards.
Launching this year are a number of MMI courses and webinars on Sustaining Emotional Health, Psychological Safety and Civility Training and Mental Health First Aid with newly developed sessions on Rural Mental Health First Aid coming soon. You can find out more about the Mind Matters training programme on our dedicated webpage.
Remember, these resources are available to all the veterinary team, including vet nurses and students. Please have a browse through the resources which include a Neurodiversity Hub, webinars and videos from research symposia.
Over to You
It does not have to be a webinar, a course, a conference or a book, little things can make a big difference. Take one step at a time to keep it manageable for you.
- Being at a low ebb in winter is perfectly natural and accepting this is helpful.
- Social interactions help us feel connected and supported.
- Feel fresh air on your skin, get outside for even a walk around the block, car park, field. I find this really helps me if I can get outside first thing.
- Keep moving in whatever way feels good for you.
- If you are worried about finances there are plenty of free resources out there, for example, the Citizens Advice Bureau.
- Eat what makes you feel good. A healthy balanced diet will increase mood, energy and motivation.
- Accepting that shift work happens, think about sleep hygiene. Is there more you can do to help a better night’s sleep?
- Focus on the positive, being grateful and doing something for someone else can be incredibly powerful.
Interested in Mental Health Research?
If so, MMI is now accepting applications for the Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grants are now open for the fifth year running. The Grant was founded in 2019, in memory of RCVS Council member Sarah Brown who passed away in 2017, and this year we will once more be awarding a £20,000 grant to those who are conducting all important research into veterinary mental health and wellbeing.