Resilience for Veterinary Nurses

How to Build Resilience as a Veterinary Nurse

Many of us will experience challenges and adversity throughout our lives – this could be anything from illness, job loss or financial instability. There is also the shared reality of stressful world events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

As challenges are a common part of life, it is important that we develop our ability to be resilient, so that we are able to cope with and work through difficult experiences.

What is resilience?                

Being resilient means being able to adapt and recover from difficult life experiences and events. Being resilient doesn’t mean nothing will ever effect or harm you; however, it does mean that, if you are faced with adversity, you have the tools and strategies in place to work through emotional pain to feel better again.

Our levels of resiliency will naturally change and grow throughout our lives. Sometimes, we may not cope very well; other times we may surprise ourselves with how well we manage a difficult situation. In essence, resilience is just one of many psychological tools we use to feel better again.

Resilience in Veterinary Nursing

Resilience also has its place in veterinary nursing, and building resilience can help you navigate the profession. As many will know – veterinary nursing is a rewarding profession, but it is not always sunshine and rainbows. Seeing animals suffer from an illness or accident can be difficult to experience, especially for passionate animal lovers. In these situations, it is important to be able to get the right balance between being compassionate and doing your job without breaking down – which is where resilience comes in.

There are steps we can all take to help build resilience over time. Here we share some tips to stay mentally well and help you build resilience during uncertain times:

  1. Understand how you respond to difficult experiences

As a starting point, it is helpful to understand how you usually respond to stressful or challenging situations –because this is the first step towards learning more effective coping methods if needed. Self-awareness involves knowing your strengths and understanding your weaknesses, because this awareness can help you more confidently draw on your strengths during difficult times.

  1. Discover ways to reduce stress

Stress-reduction techniques can help you regulate your emotions, thoughts and behaviours when you’re feeling stressed or facing adversity. This could be anything from breathing exercises, mindfulness training, focussing on the present and making a note of your feelings.

  1. Prioritise self-care to boost coping skills

Making time for yourself can sometimes be difficult, especially if you’re rushed for time or you’re feeling stressed and anxious about the future. However, self-care can help you relax and put your problems in perspective when they feel overwhelming. Some suggestions include journaling, exercising, spending time outdoors, socialising or tapping into creative outlets.

  1. Increase optimism

Approaching your problems with an optimistic mind-set can help you focus on what you can do when having trouble, rather than dwelling on the things you cannot change. This way, when you are faced with a challenge, you are more likely to identify positive, problem-solving steps you can take to feel better.

  1. Strengthen connections

Support systems play a vital role in bolstering resilience. In this sense, it’s important to spend time with friends and family and find ways to build new social connections. Not only does socialising allow you take a break from the strains of everyday life, it can also reduce stress by focusing your mind elsewhere. Family and friends may also be able to help you deal with difficult situations by offering advice and emotional support.

If you feel like you are struggling, talk to someone

Remember, it’s ok to reach out for further help and support if you need it. There are so many people, organisations, and services out there to help you cope during difficult times. When struggling, talk to friends, family, or your personal tutor about how you are feeling.

Additionally, if it’s available to you, don’t be afraid to seek professional help and support. You could consider seeing your GP or mental health professional for extra help and a referral.

Further mental health support at The College of Animal Welfare

If you’re a student or staff member with us, and you’re struggling with stress, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your teacher, head of course or line manager – they are there to help and support you. We also offer lots of additional mental health support that you can access free of charge. To find out more visit