If you’re stressed out lately, you’re far from alone. In the age of COVID-19 and social distancing, many of us are feeling confused, anxious, and stir-crazy.
While it’s easy to feel helpless, there are steps you can take to improve your emotional and mental health. Now more than ever, it’s important to practice self-care.
Need a little inspiration? Look no further than your four-legged friends. As masters of mindfulness and champions of couch snuggles, our cats and dogs are essentially stay-at-home self-care gurus.
The next time you’re feeling the pressure, consider these pet-approved self-care tips.
Lounge like nobody’s watching
Usually, busy-busy-busy is the name of the game. But these days, set aside your to-do list for some lower-key self-care activities. The first order of business? A quality lounge session.
For best lounging results, take cues from your cat: paws up, belly out, no meows to give. Go ahead and stretch out across the entire sofa—you deserve it.
Live in the moment
If you’ve had the pleasure of loving a shelter dog, you know that the pups among us live in the moment. They’re not sad about something that happened yesterday, and they’re not worried about what could happen tomorrow. The only thing our dogs know is that today, they’re loved (and bacon is delicious).
When you’re feeling anxious, try to channel your inner canine and find peace in the present.
Enjoy the little things
With events, vacations, and parties being cancelled, disappointment is understandable. But when it’s hard to see the bright side, consider your pets. Someone dropped a sausage? Your dog has never (ever) been happier. Empty Amazon box? That’s an entire day of quality cat fun.
When you celebrate the little things, these uncertain days can be surprisingly joyful.
Learn something new
Dogs love learning new tricks. It’s not only fun, but it’s great for their mental stimulation, as well. If you find yourself with some free time, consider learning a “trick” of your own, such as a new language, instrument, or recipe.
Acquiring a skill can help make these days feel a little more normal, and will make for a fun show-and-tell once we can all gather again. (Of course, remember to reward yourself with plenty of treats.)
Savor your shut-eye
The average cat snoozes 15 hours a day. While you don’t need nearly that much rest, quality sleep is essential to your physical and mental wellbeing.
When it’s time to turn in, commit to your slumber like a sleep-entitled cat—no phone, no TV, no worries. Feel the need for a nap? You know who to consult.
Make time for play
As the years go on, we humans frequently forget how to play. But Labs of every age are Frisbee fanatics, and even the most mature cats love a good feather wand.
Give yourself a break by scheduling a family game night, heading out to the yard for a good old-fashioned game of catch, or reconnecting with your favorite childhood video game.
Stretch it out
Our pets know the importance of long, relaxing, ahhh-inducing stretches (especially after a nap). While the yoga studios are closed, you can still hit the mat at home.
Sign up for a virtual class, or check out YouTube for free at-home workouts. And of course, be prepared for your pets to join in. (Take notes—you’ll never see a more authentic downward-dog!)
Cats are divas. They do what they want, when they want, because they want. If there was ever a time to focus on yourself, it’s now.
Think like a feline and treat yourself to something special, whether it’s a long, relaxing bath or a little online shopping therapy. Dessert with lunch? Sounds like a plan—and don’t skimp on the whipped cream.
Forgive and forget
As you may have noticed by now, spending this much time at home together can be … challenging. Disputes are normal, but holding a grudge will only increase your stress. Luckily, dogs can teach us everything we need to know about forgiving and forgetting.
The next time someone steps on your paw in a cramped kitchen or eats the last treat, remember what you love about them and move on. Your dog will be proud.
There are endless reasons you may open a cabinet. But every time your pup hears that telltale noise, he thinks a treat is coming his way. Why? Because dogs are the original positive thinkers. Before affirmations were trendy or “manifesting” was a buzzword, dogs hoped for the best and expected a biscuit.
While it can be tempting to worry, instead try to ask yourself, “What’s the best that can happen today?” Or better yet, ask your dog.
Remember to unplug
In our hyper-connected world, information can be overwhelming. News is broadcast around the clock, phones ping with notifications, and Facebook feeds are jam-packed with updates. You know who isn’t stressed about the latest headline? Your pets, who remain blissfully unaware of Twitter.
While staying informed is important, try to limit your screen time if you’re feeling anxious. Ask your cat for tips–she hasn’t scrolled through Instagram in years, and she doesn’t miss it.
Show the love
How do you know your dog loves you? Because he shows you 15 (OK, 20) times a day with face licks, tail wags, and “welcome home!” celebrations. Cats play it a little cooler, but even they can’t resist a good lap snuggle.
Now is the time to wear your heart on your sleeve. Let those you care about know that you’re thinking of them, and don’t be shy about reconnecting with old friends. We all have a little more time on our hands these days, so let’s put it to good use.
The Importance of Self-Care
It’s normal to feel anxious during times like these. By making a self-care plan, you’ll be better prepared to navigate the days ahead. And luckily, we have our pets to help guide, comfort, and inspire us! We’ll get through this together, with the help of our four-legged friend
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