We all want to lead a healthy lifestyle. Whether motivated by social concern for good health and fitness in general, or increasing awareness of the alarming incidence of suicide among veterinarians (1), animal health is in the global spotlight these days. As a profession, veterinarians have come under fire for killing pets and some of their human clients. Can a vocation that encourages people to take responsibility for their own health and well-being live up to its promise? And if so, how? As one recent documentary shows, animal health and wellness can encompass a broad range of practices, attitudes, and beliefs.
What are health and wellness? According to the World Health Organization, “Wise health is having good physical, mental, social and emotional health and well-being.” The WHO definition includes four components: physical health, mental health, social health, and emotional health. In short, wise health encompasses mental and physical wellness that impacts the quality of life.
What does this mean for veterinarians? Holistic health encompasses a wide variety of approaches to health and wellness. These can include a return to nutritional foods for diet, reduction of animal products in the diet; use of whole foods; reduction of stress; and involvement in exercise and stress management. All of these practices can promote physical wellness, emotional well-being, and a sense of mental well-being. Holistic practitioners approach health from all perspectives, including animals. Veterinary practices that promote wellness from animal health and a holistic view may reduce the animal death rate and improve overall health and productivity.
The practice of veterinary medicine entails addressing the physical, emotional, and environmental factors that promote illness and disease. It also takes into account the role of lifestyle choices in contributing to illness and disease. This perspective helps veterinary practices become better able to serve their clients and improve overall health and wellness.
Holistic health and the practices that it encompasses are not exclusive to animal practice. Practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine utilize the same perspectives in addressing the challenges of contemporary wellness. When considering your practice’s current well-being strategy, think about the changes you’ve made to accommodate changing lifestyles and the environment in which you work. Consider how you work toward wellness and ask yourself if any of these changes have reduced your ability to provide your clients with a high quality of life.
Environmental factors impact your health and the health of your animals. The indoor environment is filled with pollutants and other substances that can affect your health. Think about your home daily and the air that you breathe. Are there chemicals in the air that you or your family are exposed to every day? Air pollution’s effects vary widely and may be partially responsible for many severe health conditions, some of which you or your animals may be at risk for.
A good quality diet and physical exercise program are another way to ensure that you live a healthy lifestyle. Not only will you be promoting better physical health through your eating habits, but you will be boosting your immune system and helping your body to perform at peak performance. If you seek a comprehensive plan for a healthy lifestyle, start by asking yourself what components make up a good healthful lifestyle.
The quality of our relationships and interactions with other people is a major contributor to our physical well-being and mental health. In today’s society, we are exposed to many forms of negative stressors. These stressors can negatively affect our physical well-being and mental well-being. If your interactions with other people are negative, it can be difficult to maintain good mental health. You must improve the quality of your relationships to improve your mental health.