This past month of action, activity, reopening and unrest has sparked feelings, emotions and anxiety for many of us. We are all searching for ways to process current events while keeping our minds and bodies healthy. Surprisingly, a powerful resource to deal with our emotions and wellness is already within many of our homes- our pets!
A pet can be a great source of comfort, companionship, support and motivation for their owners. Pets offer companionship, love, and support. Research published in 2018 confirmed that pets can be beneficial to people with a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety. This being said, we must consider the wellness and anxiety of our furry friends during these times as well. The sudden surge of activity with both reopenings and protests, coupled with the holiday weekend ahead, our pets are likely to experience anxiety similar to our own.
But there’s good news: practices used to keep us healthy can benefit our furry friends as well. Below are a few tips and practices to help keep our minds healthy and powerful, and our pets, as we proceed forward in our ever-changing world.
Exercise - Exercise is a great way to burn off anxious energy, and keep our minds and bodies healthy. Doctors and professionals note that exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins.
As we try to keep up with our daily step goal while in quarantine, let’s remember that pets benefit from the same movement and activity. Exercise decreases anxiety in dogs, too, says Dr. Stephanie Borns-Weil, a veterinarian and clinical instructor at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Pet parents who ensure their pups are physically fit will be less likely to return home to a chewed-up couch.
Set Up a Safe Space - With active protests, unrest, and growing cases of coronavirus, it is easy to feel confused, powerless, and anxious in the world. It is important to create a space at home that is private for when you feel you need a break or some alone time. A coping corner can feel a bit like your oasis at home, where you can include candles, soft blankets, comfortable sweatshirts or clothing, and some distractions such as art supplies and music.
Pets have been seen to benefit from having a “happy place” as well. Fourth of July fireworks--if they haven’t been cancelled-- often mean anxiety and fear for those pets afraid of loud noises. A great way to help your pet cope with fireworks and other triggering noises is to create an area where your pet can retreat to and feel secure. Choose a spot in your house where your pet usually likes to relax that will also buffer the sights and sounds of the fireworks, such as a walk-in closet or a room with blackout curtains. Fill it with comfortable beds and some favorite toys, and make it extra awesome with playtime or treats.
Seek Silence through Meditation - In addition to creating a safe space, it is important to take breaks from the news and social media to clear your thoughts and your head. A great way to do this is by unplugging from social media and practicing deep breathing and meditation. This will help you tune out negative thoughts, distressing emotions, and difficult social stressors; and to tune in to being mindful and compassionate towards yourself.
Similarly, soothing your pet by playing music in the safe space throughout the firework display and other stressful situations will help block the booms and other triggering activity. Closing all windows and doors in the house will help as well by providing plenty of distraction.
Eat Well - Remember to keep your body healthy by eating well and staying nourished. Eating fruits, veggies, and other nutrient rich foods will help you feel your best.
This is important to keep in mind with your pets as well. Many foods can be potentially problematic, so we recommend remembering just one rule: No human food for your pet! Make healthy treats available instead so that your pet can still be rewarded and indulge.
Try a Natural Calming Supplement - Natural supplements can also help give you the relief and calm you need. Several natural supplements designed to reduce anxiety can work for both you and your pet. The most commonly used natural remedies include:
L-theanine: a naturally occurring amino acid that boosts relaxation by encouraging production of calming hormones and preventing excitatory nerve signals.
L-tryptophan: also an amino acid, and a precursor to serotonin, a feel-good hormone. This amino acid can also be found in supplements containing whey protein concentrate.
CBD Products - CBD is another great and natural option to help ease stress and anxiety. We have spoken about its benefits for both pets and humans, which you can learn more about by reading our previous posts here and shopping our array of both human and pet products on our website.
With everything that’s going on and all these opportunities for learning and advocacy amidst responsible gatherings and summer celebrations, we all must remember to keep our wellness a priority. These practices and products will help keep us, and our pets, strong and enable us to get through whatever else 2020 throws at us. From all of us at Flourish + Live Well, we wish you and your family a safe and healthy holiday.
Image by GabbyToon