My words of wellbeing wisdom by Marie Holowaychuk

Dr. Marie Holowaychuk, veterinary specialist in small animal emergency and critical care, and yoga and meditation teacher shares her methods and tips for practising self-care.

What does self-care mean to you?

Self-care is anything that people do for themselves with the intention of fostering health and wellbeing. The intention is important as you can take the most mundane activities such as walking the dog or cooking a healthy meal and make them self-care activities by noticing that you are doing them to build emotional wellbeing or physical health, respectively.

How do you practice self-care?

I try to abide by eight different wellness dimensions when inserting self-care activities or habits into my life. The dimensions I use and examples of self-care activities I practice include: physical wellness (getting 8 hours of sleep each night), spiritual wellness (daily meditation and gratitude journaling), emotional wellness (regular counselling appointments), intellectual wellness (reading the newspaper daily, taking online courses), occupational wellness (attending conferences, participating on committees and advisory boards), social wellness (planning regular outings with friends), financial wellness (meeting with a financial planner, hiring an accountant), and environmental wellness (routine clutter-clearing).

What are your tell-tale signs that you need to take care of yourself?

Mindfulness helps me to notice when my body and mind shift from a state of joy, enthusiasm, compassion, or kindness to that of frustration, exhaustion, cynicism, or judgement. Then I know it is time to step back from work and engage in self-care.

What do you do when you need a pick me up?

I try to engage in activities that inspire me or bring me back to a place of centeredness. My favourite activities are spending time in the mountains, practising yoga, baking something healthy, or listening to a podcast on a topic that interests me.

What are your wellbeing words of wisdom?

As veterinary care providers, we must take care of ourselves first before looking after our clients, patients, and co-workers. If we do not make time for self-care, we will find ourselves with nothing left to give the people and animals we are trying to help.

What’s your favourite inspirational quote?

“Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation.” --- Audre Lorde (American writer and feminist)

Dr. Marie Holowaychuk is a specialist in small animal emergency and critical care who travels worldwide to work as a speaker, consultant, and locum. She is also a certified yoga and meditation teacher who facilitates wellbeing workshops and retreats for veterinary teams. Marie also writes a bi-weekly blog ( and monthly e-newsletter on pertinent issues related to veterinary wellness.