If you’ve ever lived with a dog or cat or any pet, you know that blissful feeling of getting home after a stressful day at the office and being greeted by your floof purring loudly or wagging their tail so enthusiastically that their entire body is just along for the ride. Is there really anything better than coming home to your fur kid who’s been waiting for your return all day, and wants to show you nothing but love? I don’t think so!
This year certainly has been an especially stressful one all around the globe. And the added stress for the US right now of the upcoming elections at times seems almost unbearable! While the onset of COVID-19 was detrimental to our lives in a myriad of ways, for many the impact on our social lives has been a particular struggle. Interacting with those around us is essential for our mental health and for the first time in modern day, we were told as a collective world this year that we shouldn’t go out and spend time with those we love.
Instead it’s suggested or even required that we stay at home where many of us don’t have roommates or family or neighbors with whom we can readily share social connections. As a result, incidences of depression, anxiety and suicide are climbing steadily. I don’t think it’s an accident that we have seen some of the biggest numbers of animal adoptions ever! Folks finally have had some dedicated time at home and decided to adopt their own little sources of unconditional love.
Now in the US we’re at the tipping point of one of the most tense political seasons many of us have experienced in our lifetimes. Have you thought about the fact that your dog or cat can help you navigate that stress?
There are some basic but powerful experiences you can share. While none of these are brand new ideas, if you make a commitment to share them regularly with your fur child, you will find yourself feeling more grounded and focused on what’s enjoyable in your life.
Hearing your voice can soothe them and allows you to verbalize your feelings. Studies confirm that hearing things out loud that you are thinking taps into a different part of your brain so your speaking will help soothe you as well.
Touch releases endorphins that increase humans’ sense of pleasure and serenity. While not all pets welcome cuddles, there are many that do so get that extra bonding time in where you can.
Pets need a regular schedule which helps you add structure to your day as well.
Play hide and seek or do some yoga with your cat. Go for a stroll with your dog. Anyone that’s ever owned a dog knows that they need outdoor activity time, so take them on a walk. Even better, take your dog on a walk to the polls to drop off or cast your vote on Tuesday, November 3rd.
Not surprisingly, the “pet effect” on our mental health is hugely beneficial, and that isn’t even considering the physical health benefits. So if you’re like so many of us these days and struggling with your mental health because of the pandemic or political stress or for whatever the reason, start spending some extra time with your furry family members and pay attention to how your mood changes over time as the bond with them strengthens. Let them focus you on finding awe in what surrounds you. In fact, go right now and do something with your furry ball of unconditional love, hope and joy! I dare you not to feel better :-)