MINDFUL COMMUNICATION IN VETERINARY MEDICINE

We spend large parts of our days communicating - we connect with loved ones, we send text messages or emails, we make phone calls, we provide directions and details, we schedule activities and events, maybe we make social media posts, we support and encourage those around us - there are so many ways that we are constantly communicating throughout the day.

There are many ways that we communicate - not just with our voice, but also with our body language, our gentle touch, and our caring presence.


In veterinary medicine communication is key. You need to communicate clearly with co-workers, clients, and with your patients. When I interviewed over 100 veterinarians and vet professionals - communication constantly came up - with many veterinary professionals sharing that it can be difficult to communicate complex information to clients, to respond to clients who are upset and disrespectful, and to have tough conversations with clients about the financial decisions related to patient care.


Mindfulness, or present moment awareness, can support us with communication. We can use mindfulness practices to help us really tune in and to listen to a loved one or client, to stay focused when sharing details or making plans, to prepare for a difficult conversation, and to help us navigate our emotions before, during, and after communicating with those in our personal and professional lives.


A recent study by Sweet, Gentile, & He published in 2021 in the journal Health Communication explored the relationship between mindfulness, communication, and mental health with veterinary medicine students.


They found that mindfulness had a positive relationship with students’ willingness to communicate, while depression, anxiety and stress had a negative relationship with willingness to communicate and communication apprehension. They also found that mindfulness had a direct negative relationship with communication apprehension. The authors write that “these findings suggest that mindfulness training may mitigate depression, anxiety, and stress and their attendant effects on communication apprehension and willingness to communicate.”


Given these findings, it is timely to explore how mindfulness can support communication and the mental health connections in regards to communication in veterinary medicine - and the practices that we offer at Peace Within can help you do just that.


I invite you to simply take a moment to check in with your body and your breath either while you are communicating or maybe even before you get ready to communicate. Give yourself a moment to pause, to notice where you are carrying tension, to notice your feet on the floor, and to feel your breath moving through you. Taking this moment can help you tune into your body, your emotions, and how you are showing up to communicate - perhaps you notice that you want to carry yourself differently, or maybe you want to change your facial expression, or maybe you realize that wow you are tired - whatever you notice can help you be more responsive to your needs and be more present as you communicate with others.

We all know that communication is key and taking just a few seconds to pause and to check in with your body like this can support you being more present for the many different communication opportunities you have everyday.


I hope this supports you with your communication goals and overall well-being.


Take care,

Sarah


References


Powell, L. (2016). Three important lessons on mindful communication. Mindful. https://www.mindful.org/can-we-talk/


Sweet, D.M., Gentile, D., He, L. (2021). Communication apprehension and willingness to communicate in veterinary medicine students: Implications for mindfulness and communication training. Health Communication, 3, 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2021.1930881




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