My Top 5
When I was considering coming off of my depression medication, there were several very strong reasons having a dog was one of my number one priority things to do.
In honor of National Puppy Day, I put together a list of my top 5 reasons why it’s a good idea for those of us who live with depression, anxiety (click here to read the original post). Maybe you live alone right now and having a pet would be a great addition to your life and help ward off the initial pangs on loneliness.
But here’s my disclaimer: having a pet is also a responsibility and a life long commitment (well the life of the pet anyway), so make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before you bring a pet home. Ask friends, family or forums/groups for advice on certain types of pet or breed you might be interested in. There’s nothing worse than bringing home a new pet only to find out it doesn’t work for you.
Number 5: Puppies are great cuddlers.
Some days are just a ‘no-go’ and having a warm body to cuddle up to you is just the thing that you need. No talking, no explaining, just being. For me, the thing I love the most is that my dog always knows and just forces her way into my personal space and snuggles up for some nap time. It always makes me feel accepted and loved.
Number 4: Puppies are always in The Now
If you haven’t read “The Power of Now” you might not be sure what this means. Basically, it’s about being present with what’s going on in that exact moment. Not worried about what’s on your phone, what happened yesterday, or what might be going on tomorrow. When I first got my current dog, my boxer Ivy, I noticed that when we went outside for her exercise/bathroom break she’d stands and sniff the wind and check out the surroundings. At first, I’d wonder what she was seeing or smelling and then I noticed that I was doing what she was doing – being present with my environment and paying attention to the current situation. The more I started to do that the more grateful I was for the necessary breaks in my day. It alleviated the stress of the day and the pressure to get things done. Ivy also loves to smell all the flowers on our walks and it makes me smile because really isn’t that what it’s really all about – taking the time to smell the flowers?!
Number 3: Puppies require exercise
You’re probably wondering how this can be an important part of my top 5. Well, if your dog/puppy needs to get out for exercise and bathrooms breaks, you’re forced to get up and move. Walking/exercise is an amazing tool for persons living with depression and anxiety but it’s hard to remember to schedule it in – and most of the time, we just don’t feel like it. But studies have shown that activity can help to raise the heavy fog of depression/anxiety. Myself personally, I find that being outside breathing in fresh air and standing under sunshine always improves my mood. Going for a walk can provide some much needed time to allow your mind to creatively come up with ideas on how to overcome some of your life obstacles as well. You don’t have to run marathons or walk for hours, sometimes a quick walk around the block is exactly what your mind and body need!
Number 2: Puppies do silly things
The saying “Laughter is the best medicine” is actually a true statement. The health benefits of laughter include the reduction of stress hormones and blood pressure, as well as increased blood flow and oxygenation to the cells and organs. Laughing provides a natural workout for a number of muscle groups, can defend against illness, and even increase the response of beneficial tumor and disease-killing cells throughout the body. Laughter has also been shown to increase memory, intelligence, and creativity. For me personally, there’s nothing better than a good belly-laugh to help kick stress in the butt!! I’ve had some of my best laughs watching my dog play with a toy, play with other dogs or being herself. They do goofy things and get themselves into the most bizarre situations sometimes. Ironically, this usually happens when you need a good belly laugh the most.
Number 1: Puppies love you Unconditionally
One of the most important requirements for my own life is to be on the receiving side of unconditional love. Growing up my family was unable to provide me unconditional love and so I have to get that somewhere else and, for me, a dog provides it. They don’t care what I look like, how bad my breathe is, how grumpy I am or that you just let out the longest, foulest temper-tantrum – they just love me! You can actually see it in their eyes and the wag of their tail. Most dog breeds are people pleasers and will do anything to give you a kiss or a snuggle.
So as I mention in my disclaimer, a pet may not be a viable option for you. But if you have the resources and the time to bond with a dog (or other pet) I highly recommend it as a part of your self-care plan.
Contact me if you have any questions! I’d love to help you out.