The real cost of avoidance
"If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got"
I don't know about you, but I absolutely hate feeling stressed and anxious, basically at wit's end trying to work through life's everyday challenges and demands. When I get in these moods I am irritable, snappy, and not my normal happy-go-lucky and optimistic self.
Fortunately these don't occur for me too often, but when they hit I take this as my body's way of telling me it needs a "time out". Time out from trying to be the one expected to solve everyone else's problems. Time out from the pressures and expectations I put on myself. And time out from trying to accomplish all the ideas running around in my head!
Rather than ignore what my body is telling me in the hope that my challenges, issues, and problems will magically disappear (hey, I may be a psychologist but I'm still human!), I know too-well that avoiding things is a recipe for disaster! Not only will my issues still be there, but avoiding them can add strength to them - giving them more power than ever! Which then takes more and more energy to try and keep them suppressed in the background (which again, doesn't really take them away does it!).
You see, avoiding our problems doesn't change the reality that they exist. It just avoids them and parks them in the 'too hard' basket - but guess what? They are still there!
If you are struggling with something right now that you don't want to face or deal with, stop and ask yourself why you don't want to acknowledge it. What is it that you don't want to face? Perhaps it's a past trauma you don't want to relive, or something that makes you feel like a failure or phony? Maybe it's something sad - or it could just be an issue you don't know how to deal with. Whatever it is, acting like it doesn't exist isn't going to solve the problem in the long run. Sure, it might help in the short-term to push it away and try to convince yourself it's gone, but you know what? It's still there! And it needs to be dealt with at some point - otherwise chances are it will keep its hold on you like superglue and raise its ugly head at some point in the future....possibly with everything else you've been avoiding at the same time!
So, as hard as it is, and as uncomfortable as it may feel, avoidance isn't always the answer if you want to gain and maintain psychological wellbeing.
About Dr Nadine Hamilton
As a leading authority on veterinary wellbeing, Dr Hamilton helps veterinary professionals get on top of stress and conflict to avoid burnout and suicide, and also works with practice managers and owners to increase wellbeing, productivity, and retention in the workplace. Additionally, she provide workshops to small and large groups within the private and corporate sectors, and speaks at conferences and symposiums both nationally and internationally.
Her book "Coping with Stress and Burnout as a Veterinarian - An Evidence-Based Solution to Increase Wellbeing" was released in March 2019 through Australian Academic Press, and is already making a positive impact within the profession - both here in Australia and internationally.
As an advocate for the veterinary profession, Dr Hamilton founded "Love Your Pet Love Your Vet" and partnered with Royal Canin to reduce stigma in veterinary professionals seeking help, raising awareness within the community about the realities of working in the profession, and providing psychological and educational support to veterinary professionals.