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Finding yoga helped me thrive as a vet

Abstract

Vet Chloe Hannigan works as a locum in the UK and abroad, and also teaches yoga to vet professionals, helping them care for their physical and mental health.

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Having achieved my goal of becoming a vet, I started my career by getting as much clinical experience as I could. Like many others, this meant working in practice where not all my experiences were good ones.

It wasn’t long before negative feelings made me seriously consider whether my future lay in the veterinary profession. I needed help and, luckily, I discovered yoga. I found that the stress of an awful day vanished on my yoga mat. Meditation helped me to gain perspective and recognise what was important, enabling me to let go of things.

When I joined my first class I had no idea that yoga would become such an important part of my life, or that I would end up teaching it alongside veterinary work. I passionately believe it can help us deal with the mental, emotional and physical challenges of our job.

Yoga not only helps me take a more balanced approach to life, it has changed my life. Gaining a qualification outside of the veterinary industry has had unexpected benefits too.

First, it has reaffirmed to me that there is more to me than ‘just’ being a vet. Secondly, I have gained social media skills and set up my website, www.vetyogi.com, where I blog about health and yoga/meditation.

My CV

  • 2012: Qualified from the Royal Veterinary College

  • 2012: Mixed practice

  • 2015: Locum in small animal practice

  • 2017: Yoga teacher training certificate

  • 2018: Locum vet and yoga teacher

Other opportunities have included the chance to present a joint webinar on managing stress, and a highlight this year was an invitation to teach yoga and meditation at the first WellVet Weekend in Cambridge in August. It was a very positive experience and a wonderful opportunity to meet like-minded colleagues away from a clinical practice setting. I’m delighted to have been invited back to teach at the 2019 WellVet Weekend.

Locuming

For me, the advantages of being a locum are flexible working (allowing me to travel) and the opportunity to take better care of my health and welfare. Constantly being on the move makes it imperative to look after my health. After all, if I can’t work, I don’t get paid!

One of my first locum jobs was in Australia. In the UK, I work regularly for a some practices. Although case continuity is often not possible, I enjoy working with the patients and the practice teams; most of all, I enjoy surgery.

One way I achieve work-life balance is to say no – and mean it. This may sound simple, but there is such a demand for locums that if I said yes to every job or shift I was offered, I’d be exhausted.

Looking ahead, I plan to continue working as a locum while building my VetYogi business, ultimately running retreats, workshops and personal yoga/meditation consultations for vet professionals and paraprofessionals. My first-hand experience of working as a vet can help me provide meaningful and realistic yoga experiences for colleagues.

‘The best thing about teaching yoga to vets and nurses is being able to make a difference. It’s lovely to watch them relax, by creating a calm environment after a stressful one’

Balance means enjoying other interests as well. For me, this includes reading and writing – and I never refuse the chance to ride a horse.

I've learnt not to feel guilty about the days where ‘balance’ means not leaving the house or seeing people because I need to recharge

I also make sure to take time away from everything. I use this time well – catching up with friends, going somewhere different or experiencing new things, especially if that involves being outdoors. I’ve also learnt not to feel guilty about the days when ‘balance’ means not leaving the house or seeing people because I need to recharge.

Vet Record Careers

Vet Record Careers aims to reflect the diverse range of career opportunities available to vets and related professionals.

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The opportunity to travel the world while doing the job I love is a huge privilege. Our vet degree really can take us anywhere.

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