Delivering an Emotionally Intelligent Euthanasia; Part Two…Gift yourself the valentine of self-regulation and control

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As veterinary professionals, we are caregivers who shower love and compassion on others. With all you give to your clients, who is caring for you? It is within your control to acknowledge what you contribute in a day, personally and professionally, in making the world a better place. With Valentine’s Day approaching, give yourself some love and attention by learning how to better care for you. 

You may recall in CAETA’s Part One of Elevating Your Skills in Delivering an Emotionally Intelligent Euthanasia, we touched on self-awareness, including how you feel about sympathy, empathy, and compassion. We left you with a cliffhanger about being in control of mind and body, and elevating the important skill of self-regulation. This month, we want you to gift yourself the Valentine of intentional control of body and mind during every part of your life and work, especially during euthanasia. 

Even though I have been growing my skills in communication, self-care, peaceful euthanasia, and compassion over the years, I had not fully embraced the idea of self-regulation. While attending Dr. Kathy Cooney’s virtual End-of-Life Communication Workshop, my interest was piqued! 

What is self-regulation? 

Self-regulation is the awareness of one’s physical stress/anxiety and the intentional act of removing it from the body. Anyone can find themselves stressed any time of the day. Stress comes from a perceived threat that amps us up and prepares us for fight or flight. The body moves into sympathetic tone (tense and pumped up). The mind works best in parasympathetic tone (relaxed and under control).  

Self-regulation is essentially “control (of oneself) by oneself,” states Andrea Bell in her GoodTherapy® blog. “It refers to a system taking the needed steps to keep itself in balance.” 

Keeping yourself in balance can be accomplished either behaviorally or emotionally, but requires focus on one’s body to reduce stress.

The “4 Steps to Self-Regulation” Exercise:

  • Acknowledge that you are feeling stressed or threatened, and that your body is tense.
  • Take a deep breath and exhale slowly.
  • Relax your core muscles all the way down through your pelvis (let your muscles become like jelly, without tension).
  • Expand your vision out to the periphery and try to see as far to the left and right as you can without moving your gaze.

“If you had ever talked yourself out of a bad mood or calmed yourself down when you were angry, you were displaying effective emotional self-regulation,” explains Courtney Ackerman in the Positive Psychology blog. The practice of self-regulation is best done 15-20 times a day. The more you do it, the better you will become. During euthanasia, CAETA recommends performing self-regulation before, during, and after the appointment. Deep breathing and relaxation are key to a meaningful goodbye.

What is within your control?

It’s time to apply this every day as a veterinary professional delivering end-of-life care and euthanasia services. “I believe increasing humans’ capacity for self-regulation is the most important thing in the world,” says Bell. This is a powerful statement, not to be taken lightly. When beginning your workday, take a deep breath and relax your body. Allow your vision to soften to your surroundings. Witnessing something traumatic? Apply self-regulation. Listening to someone saying something unkind? Apply self-regulation. Running from appointment to appointment? Apply self-regulation. You cannot control the actions of others or much of the day’s schedule, but you can control yourself. What a gift this is!

Acknowledge your contributions and gift yourself a valentine

Yes, you contribute in a passionate, meaningful way. You show up! You shower compassion, empathy, and encouragement on those around you. You give in a way that makes a difference. 

Hopefully, your patients, clients, and team members are self-regulating too. Pat yourselves on the back! This gift of self-regulation is within your control, as a tangible symbol of your abilities to thrive in veterinary medicine and end-of-life care.

Here’s another gift, a valentine from me to you! Enjoy $30 off CAETA’s Peaceful Euthanasia Master Program. Earn 10 hours of RACE-certified CE credit and learn more about self-regulation, communication with clients, and social skills in an emotionally intelligent euthanasia. 

For more information on the numerous courses CAETA provides, please reach out to [email protected]

Happy Valentine’s Day, valentine!

Resources 

Bell, A.L. (2016, September 28). What Is Self-Regulation and Why Is It So Important? GoodTherapy. Retrieved from https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/what-is-self-regulation-why-is-it-so-important-0928165

Ackerman, C.E. (2018, July 3). What is Self-Regulation? 95 Skills and Strategies. PositivePsychology. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/self-regulation/

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Rebecca Rose, RVT

Rebecca Rose, RVT, is a credentialed leader in the veterinary community with experience managing clinics, collaborating with industry partners, authoring articles and books, and facilitating engaging team workshops. The former NAVTA president's enthusiasm for professional development in veterinary medicine is contagious. She encourages and supports veterinary teams in reaching their highest potential to maintain a healthy, sustainable life and career.