Let’s Talk Mental Health: MVMA Health and Wellness Column
"Fall Retreat" By Mrs. Athena M. Diesch-Chham, MSW, LICSW

First, take a breath, I’m not about to suggest that we all come together in a shared space to talk about our communication, feelings, or the teams we work with. Even though I really do enjoy talking about feelings.

Instead of that type of retreat, I want you to consider something different. As Minnesota summer winds down, and the crisp fall rolls in, I encourage you to reflect on the things that went well in the first half of the year as well as what maybe didn’t go as well as you had hoped or planned. Within those disappointments, are there things that you can still learn from and gain knowledge from, or are there more that are just painful reminders of situations that were difficult? If you have learned what you can, and still carrying it with you, why? What purpose is that serving? If there wasn’t much to learn but plenty of pain, what purpose is carrying that serving?

Instead of a fall retreat being a dreaded gathering, what if this fall, the retreat is about leaving behind what is no longer serving you in a positive way? For a few years now I have referred to these pieces as “rocks.” We all pick up rocks on daily basis, from situations during our commute, interactions with our colleagues and clients, and even from our families and friends. They can come as off comments, tense looks or true conflict, and often are more about the other person than us, but we feel the need to pick them up and own them quickly. The fact is that none of these “rocks” are doing us any good, and often are weighing us down more.

Therefore, I want to put out a challenge to you all. This fall, what things, situations, interactions, or burdens are you ready to retreat from? If you are inspired by this challenge, here is your task: Find a physical rock, size doesn’t matter, and then find a new space to leave it. Maybe somewhere serene and peaceful, or maybe somewhere more fitting for the metaphorical rock that you are leaving behind. Either way, when you find the space put the rock down, metaphorical, and physical. Take a moment to make peace with the fact that you are done with it, and then retreat on, leaving the physical and metaphorical behind you with less weight to carry. Recognizing the power of situation, and how it changes us takes time, effort, and practice. Learning to leave those pieces where they originally fell and not picking them up is even harder. However, in the long run, serves us more than carrying it all with us.

Lastly, remember…Time is too valuable to be wasted on anything less than love, happiness, and good vibes. While these may be high bars to achieve, contentment, belonging and connectedness are great starting spaces.

Don’t forget that Athena is here to help! She is a reliable and credible mental health professional with 10 years of veterinary experience. The MVMA has partnered with Restorative Path Counseling and Wellbeing to offer therapeutic intervention both initial consultation and beyond for all members. Additionally, any team member, working at a practice where an MVMA member is employed will be able to take advantage of this benefit. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with more questions at [email protected] and checkout www.restorativepathcounseling.com to learn more.