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Developing a resilient approach
  1. Kirsty Sturman

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Kirsty Sturman is a training adviser at VDS, with expertise in time and stress management, communication, resilience, leadership and coaching.

Resilience can be defined as our ability to move forward while coping with the pressures placed upon us. Although veterinary practice can be a pressurised environment, this does not mean that it should result in stress; pressure and stress are two very different things. We all know that we need some pressure to help motivate and focus us. Stress is a natural response to pressure that exceeds our mental or physical resources.

While practice owners and managers have obligations to address factors within the working environment which may increase the risk of stress, individuals can take actions to develop their own resilience.

Establish the baseline

What are the threats to your resilience? What turns a good day into a bad day for you? It’s important to recognise the factors that cause you to feel unable to cope so that you can take action to minimise or eliminate these.

Spend a couple of days being more observant and self-aware to identify these triggers.

Factors for consideration

There are some factors that frequently impact our ability to build resilience, and should be considered carefully. These are as follows:

This monthly wellbeing series is provided by VDS Training. Topics are listed below:

  1. Knowing what you want from life✓

  2. Managing perfectionism✓

  3. Becoming responsibly selfish✓

  4. Getting the most out of your time✓

  5. Feeling in control✓

  6. Setting achievable goals✓

  7. Personal leadership✓

  8. Developing a resilient approach✓

  9. Developing an assertive approach✓

  10. Dealing with difficult clients

  11. Worried about a colleague?

  12. Fulfilment at work


Our behaviours are what we consistently do and say, and how we say it. What behaviours do you demonstrate? When are these helpful and when do they trip you up? What do you find frustrating in other people? Do you play to the individual strengths of your team and minimise the impact of their weaknesses?


Doing something, or working somewhere, that is aligned with your personal values contributes significantly towards your resilience. It’s why, when things are tough, we can feel a sense of fulfilment which balances out the pressure.


Where are you going? What are your goals? What are the milestones and what does success look like? Without a vision and plan we end up only reacting to what life throws at us and we can feel overwhelmed, frustrated and unfulfilled.

Work/life balance

Have you got the balance right? Mentally separate work and home to be 100 per cent present, which will allow you to focus.

Time management

Manage your time carefully, prioritising effectively and focusing on the business-critical tasks. Try to make some time for yourself, even during busy periods or when undertaking tasks that you find more stressful. It is all too easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and not take breaks, but these are most vital for personal performance and wellbeing.

Looking after the basics

We know the importance of sleep, nutrition and rest for a good day at work, but do you manage these well? Good sleep hygiene, attention to the right nutrition and hydration, and taking time to rest are all vital foundations to build resilience.

Development and feedback are also key to building our engagement, drive and confidence. Have a development plan, map it out with milestones and ask for feedback on performance. Discussing challenges with colleagues, friends and mentors will help you to find ways to deal with these more effectively and to build resilience when things don’t go quite to plan.


Do you have a positive ‘can do’ outlook? If you find it difficult to be positive then ask yourself ‘what would be a useful way to think about this?’ And then reframe any negative comments.


To maintain a positive outlook and work through problems with a pragmatic, practical approach, remember these key tips:

1. Reframe the situation.

2. Establish what is in your control.

3. What are your options for the things you can control?

4. For the things out of your control, are you approaching them with the best attitude?

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